The Bug’s entertainment reporter has taken in a performance from an unknown comedian out to make a name for himself in 2019 and the verdict is in: move over Hughsie, Jimeon, Barron…. this guy’s fresh and funky and he’s out to take your crown.
There’s that delicious moment in any comedian’s routine where he instinctively knows he’s got his audience in the palm of his hand. I love seeing when that moment reflects itself in a performer’s face or body language and it came early in the piece after a bloke called Scott Morrison wandered onto the Belvoir Street Theatre stage in Sydney last night.
Here is a bloke without the larrikin looks and funny voice of a Dave Hughes, the poignancy of a sad-sack, woe-is-me Carl Barron or the helter-skelter energy of a Jimeon.
Morrison simply sauntered on stage, looking very much like a suburban solicitor, insurance underwriter, part-time mortgage broker, or all three. You could almost sense the mix of apprehension and sordid expectation in a crowd half-hoping for things to go terribly wrong for a pretentious upstart.
But Morrison simply plonked himself down on the plainest of bar stools, the only prop on stage, adjusted his new, thin-framed glasses and gave the unseen crowd behind the lights a little half-smirk.
And then after a perfectly timed pause where he almost taunted the audience to heckle him, Morrison slowly lifted the mike to his mouth and said softly: “If you have a go, you’ll get a go.”
And after another short pause: “And if you’ve got to go then, guess what folks, you have to go.”
And then came that moment of triumph.
“If you’re fair to dinkum, dinkum will be fair to you,” Morrison said, another little half-smirk forming as the only tell that he knew right there and then that he had the crowd where he wanted them.
But there was no let up. “This will be a big year for Australia,” Morrison quipped.
Another half-smirk said it all as he brought the crowd home to him with: “It’s a country where differences are respected – indeed celebrated.”
Then, waiting skilfully to give the laughter and applause time to die down, he hit them with: “We must always protect this. It’s a key to who we are.
“There’ll be a clear choice to protect what you have and we’ll be right there to back you in!”
He then riffed on a series of seemingly unconnected topics yet ones that gelled perfectly under his exquisite timing.
“It’s okay to be gay. Just don’t show it, okay.”
“There’s no blood on my hands.”
“Trickle-down economics works. It always has.”
“Clean coal will get us to our climate-change targets.”
And the one that probably got the biggest roar of approval on the night: “Tony Abbott would make an excellent minister in any future LNP government.”
Hundreds in the crowd pulled their ears out sideways and poked their tongues in and out lizard-like in appreciation of a joke very well told. Others knighted each other in good humour just to be part of the gag.
Once Morrison knew he had his audience where he wanted them, he lapsed for the last five minutes of his show into tongues and the audience simply couldn’t get enough of that either.
The entire performance was a triumph, particularly as he had been preceded on stage by some excellent female newcomers who had put him under enormous pressure to shine.
Sarah Henderson wooed them with some rapid fire jokes about the Liberals always having better policies for women than Labor could ever hope to have.
And then some of the biggest laughs of the night – well, before Morrison came on – belonged to a lass called Michaela Cash.
She actually never appeared on stage but the Belvoir Street Theatre crowd couldn’t get enough of her, laughing and stomping their feet and pointing at the empty stool for the entire five minutes she wasn’t there.
Afterwards, one patron summed up the mood outside the venue for Morrison’s debut gig: “Hilarious. Simply hilarious. Imagine how much funnier he would have been if he’d worn a baseball cap.”
Footnote: Scott Morrison’s stand-up routines can next be seen in Canberra starting on February 12. Tickets are free but you might have to queue.