Rhys Nicholson (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)


Some comedians simply bring their presence to anything they say, so that even ordinary statements become witty, laugh out loud gags. Rhys Nicholson is one of these people.

You’re not laughing at him, at his silliness or absurdity; he’s letting you in on how he sees the world. He finds it odd and funny, and he transfers that to you, amplifying the odd, the weird, the camp and the crazy into a melange of funny.

It’s traditional stand up; one man and a mic, but it feels fresh mostly as Rhys takes us on a tour through parts of his life as a gay comic. Being queer is an important part of his act because otherwise: “Under this shiny gay man I’m just a whiny bogan”. Which is twice as funny when you realise that at times he sounds uncannily like Hughesy. Camp drawl becomes lazy ocker drawl very quickly.

The show is entirely focussed on the personal; Rhys realising he is gay, coming out, losing his virginity; his life as a three glass chardy screamer, offending all around. His only concession to politics is marriage equality — “it’d be nice to have the option” he drones at the right moment.

Rhys uses his stick insect body to great effect, waggling his legs around to emphasise a point, or pouting or sneering as he comments in that arch way that’s become a cliche — the campy gossipy man. But he pulls it off and keeps it fresh.

It will be interesting to see where he takes this. For now his material his inbuilt, fresh, and both personal and universal. It’s not hard to understand him, even if your own experience is light years away. Rhys is a great communicator and could make reading out the phone book funny.

Rhys has been nominated for the Barry this year. Based on this performance and the gales and squeals of laughter, the judges made a good choice.

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Rhys Nicholson’s Bona Fides – is on at Roxanne until April 17


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