Sunday, 27 March 2016

Justin Hamilton in Hoot, March 26, 2016 ***

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Cloak Room, Melbourne Town Hall, until Sat April 16 (Saturdays only)
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
 Review also in Herald Sun Com Fest review page on Sun March 27, 2016. KH
Justin Hamilton

Justin Hamilton is a rambling philosopher comedian and inveterate navel-gazer who muses on his own shortcomings and obsessions in his show, Hoot.

There are some hoots in Hoot, although the title refers less to laughter and more to Hamilton’s childhood memory about... No spoilers.

Hamilton’s stage persona and style of comic delivery shift at will from cheerfully chirpy to brusque, from vulnerable and insecure to abrasively smug and a bit too pleased with himself.

His move from Melbourne to Sydney is a key topic, as is his personal struggle with mild, floating depression that interferes with his life by keeping him trapped inside his own head.

If this all sounds too dark, remember that comedy often emerges from adversity or intimate revelations and Hamilton uses both.

After having a go at the familiar topics of exorbitant rents in Sydney, breakfast shows and the pervasive virus that is reality television, Hamilton tears a few strips off Warney and his new-found status on a celebrity TV show and his kids’ charity.

Cue groans and claps from the audience.

A large chunk of Hamilton’s comic material is devoted to people’s obsession with that other contagious virus called social media.

A big hit with the crowd is his rapid-fire routine that tracks one idiot’s sleepless, 24-hour social media cycle as he (Is it Hamilton?) tweets, likes, posts, rants and trolls his way through a day with no real social contact except buying his lunch - then photographing it.

Hamilton’s very cool, funny and youthful mum’s antics are a recurring topic while he also gets laughs from stories about his unconscious jaywalking, computer rage and booking Uber cars.

But Hamilton’s longest and most serious musings are about a lifelong devotion, from a distance and up close, to his musical hero, David Bowie and this final material is a moving, albeit not necessarily funny tribute to Bowie and his legacy.

Although his comic material and show structure need tightening, Hamilton’s passion for Bowie is perhaps his most attractive trait and shows this philosopher-comic in the most positive light.

By Kate Herbert

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