Friday, 22 November 2013

Rod Quantock, First Man Standing, Nov 22, 2013 ****1/2

Atheneaum Theatre, Nov 22, 2013 (one night only)
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Review also published in Herald Sun online on Tues Nov 26, 2013 and in print. KH

Rod Quantock is the Eveready Bunny of Australian Comedy and he’s been joking for 45 hilarious years since he first sauntered on stage in the Melbourne Uni Architecture Revue.

In his one-night-only show, First Man Standing, he recounts highlights and lowlights of his four-decade career as a stand up/sit down comedian.

Quantock is a comic subversive and a political satirist whose comedy is guided by his principles and a boundless need to scratch at social problems that plague him.

His casual, chatty performance style feels deceptively improvisational, but his rigorous structure is evident as he fills a huge blackboard with chalk scrawling, graphs, brain maps and compelling arguments for social change and revolution.

Decades ago, his comedy bus tours proved him courageous and fearless as he ferried his audiences around Melbourne in a commercial bus.

Looking like an insane jester, Quantock carried a rubber chicken on a stick while his audience wore Groucho masks that made them anonymous and as intrepid as their leader.

He relates riotous tales of arriving uninvited with his masked marauders at major events, one of which was a Police Awards ceremony where they delivered a fake singing telegram to a bemused copper.

On his later walking tours (They have a lower carbon footprint!), he took a bunch of insurance salesmen into a private home and made the resident’s night by washing her dishes then inviting her entire family to dinner.

With his wicked and engaging demeanour, louche physique and shambolic appearance, Quantock strolls around the stage, making us feel as if we are in his lounge room having an intelligent, animated chat.

Quantock is an equal opportunity political satirist who attacks all political and socio-economic groups, although Kennett and Abbott get the biggest serves along with bogans who give their kids idiotic names – and stupid people in general.

He bends mad statistics with weird logic to reach bizarre conclusions about controlling population growth (Who do we eat first when the food runs out?) and, by doing so, he highlights the social issues that have concerned him for 45 years.

Quantock’s incisive commentary and acerbic wit are distinctively Australian with jokes about dunking Teddy Bear biscuits, the Tim Tam’s role in social breakdown, our national obsession with lawn mowing, and Melbournians endless capacity for apathy after we lost our tram conductors.

He revisits his childhood role as the Star in a Christmas pageant, his TV success in Australia You’re Standing In It, his Comedy Cafe and Banana Lounge that spawned his Tram and Bus shows, and his years protesting social issues.

Rod Quantock is a Living National Treasure and, it seems, the only surviving, committed and hilarious political comedian in the country. Long may he prosper!

By Kate Herbert

No comments:

Post a Comment