Peter Helliar (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)


Peter Helliar has to keep well behaved on the set of Channel Ten’s The Project, so he declared it was time to let loose in his latest comedy show, One Hot Mess

“I’ll say all the things I can’t say on The Project,” he said. Trouble is, the well-known Australian didn’t seem much different from the likeable, 40-year-old bloke that he projects on the small screen. Just add extra swear words, ample references and gestures to his man parts, and some detailed references to his wife’s equivalent.

On that note, his love life after 12 years of marriage got a solid workout – and never fear, it’s all going swimmingly. The revelation is just one we learn about the inner chaos of the Helliar household. We also find out he’s in continual war with the kids, is experimenting with some ‘creative parenting’, and concedes his wife always has the upper hand, even when he’s on the road.

Helliar’s suburban household fodder is largely relatable. We’ve all huffed our way through Pilates class trying to look on top of it, or know someone who hides from their phone when the netball team hunts for a fill in at 9pm on a Wednesday.

While family life and being 40 made up much of the banter, he also teased out some crazy theories, such as the future of drugs – and a public safety warning should be issued on his 90th birthday if his plans unfold.

It wouldn’t be a Peter Helliar show without AFL getting a score. His famed alter ego, Bryan Strauchan (Strauchnie), copped a mention or two, as did the outcome of the previous afternoon’s game.

His references to football and his TV appearances were a good reminder of Helliar’s diversity of comedic skill and longevity in the industry. He came to fame on TV show Rove in the late 1990s and still appears left, right and centre across all types of media.

However, while his new show is lively and cheeky and he remains utterly likeable, the content doesn’t stretch him as an artist enough. While many of his peers tackle local politics, world issues, refugees, the economy and race – taking the audience into uncomfortable territory before craftily steering them into laughter – Helliar mostly keeps it safe. It’s all fun and games, but as such an experienced master of comedy, he’s surely got the whip in him to crack us more.

Peter Helliar’s One Hot Mess has a final show on April 17 at the Comedy Theatre, Melbourne


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