If every stand-up routine were as wildly verbose as the brick-of-anecdotes-to-your-face style of Melbourne comedian Trav Nash, one gets the sense the craft would either sky rocket to new heights of popularity or collapse like a sick dog in a gutter, saved for brave souls with insatiable appetites for loud and offbeat storytelling.
In his new show Good Grief Nash has finessed his charmingly geeky pop culture obsessed personality and matched it with the nous of a comedian clearly well practised in working small rooms that do not need (but always have) a microphone to project his booming voice, which is typically pitched somewhere between outrage, shock and bemusement. But it isn’t hard to picture Nash performing in big rooms in front of large and adoring audiences.
Nash begins Good Grief with the announcement that what we will see and hear will be all about — and for — himself. The audience have purchased entry into a one man counselling session in which the star of the show more or less identifies himself as both a rabid froth from the mouth fruitcake and the only person capable of rescuing his sanity.
Good Grief presents a stuffed trough of memories and pop culture observations that Nash feasts on with the dauntless energy of a starving feral pig, and that energy is very much infectious. The show consists largely of reflections about growing up, such as a bit focusing on his toy collection (Nash is livid when he reflects on a transformers toy that turns merely into a rock – what marketing genius was responsible for that?) and his parents’ foibles and follies, such as his mother’s collection of dolls and his discovery of a doll without a face, which he uses as one of many reasons to draw a cranked to 11 “what’s the deal with…?” response and vent wild-eyed outrage.
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The more prolonged stories tend to be stream of consciousness rants delivered with gusto, and refreshingly devoid of the dry self-referential techniques that often blunt the sharpness of contemporary comedians. Nash in fact is the antithesis of dry comedy; his brand is wet, slippery and fluid, a verbal goo that flows from his gums and sticks to the audience.
Small stories break out of larger narratives to occupy substantial pockets of time, and just when you think the original tale has been relegated to the dust bin Nash inevitably finds a bridge back to it. This structure creates a circular energy that will win audiences over with its natural flow or, if the wrong crowds are gathered, clang in the ears of punters who prefer more staccato, compartmentalised comedy. If you want broad, straight-up, conventional clean-cut humour this show is not for you. However, playing it broad and homogenizing his routine would likely serve a death blow to Nash’s natural eccentricities, which flow through the show as effortlessly and impressively as any comedian you’re likely to see at this year’s festival.
Perhaps Nash’s greatest achievement is building a performance that manages the tough feat of being earnest and personable while coming on like a sock full of pennies to the nads.
Quirky, original and very funny, Good Grief is a hoot, and at 12 bucks a ticket no one can complain about the price.
For more information about Good Grief – or to book tickets online – check visit the Melbourne International Comedy Festival website.