If you thought Rove alumni Peter Helliar was a homogenised play-it-safe comedian suitable only for the teev and not the edgier, more intimate surrounds of the stage, Helliar’s new show will topple your expectations and make you giddily guffaw along the way.
He does irreverent very well — a shock to the senses, perhaps, to any family crowds expecting all-ages entertainment with nary of mention of being, say, inappropriately touched by a lollypop lady — from gags about pedophilia to a stern line about what you deserve if you you-know-what your pants.
Helliar maintains the vibe of a bloke at the pub regaling you with stories, a guaranteed hit in every watering hole across the land. A full house at Hi-Fi bar were loving the guy, greedily gobbling up every pun and anecdote. He sensed that, blitzing past the one hour mark and chinwagging like he could have been up there all night.
Snazzy (a thoroughly unexciting name) consists of fast-flowing storytelling and observations with a wry blocky edge, quintessentially Australian in content and delivery. Helliar is a self-confessed amnesiac bulimic — he stuffs his face then forgets to throw up — and, in one particularly resonate moment of crowd coaching, “cures” an audience member of their fear of snakes by creating a comparison to a man who is fast and bites but doesn’t have any arms or legs.
Helliar is a very good comedian. He’s more suited to stage than screen, with time to win audiences over and build rapport. He also has a very fluid — and seemingly completely natural — way of balancing cheeky and personal comedy, which allows him to breezily drift between stories about family to the lair of the dark and dirty, where lollypop ladies polish their sticks and hide wicked grins.
Snazzy is playing Friday and Saturday at 7pm and Sundays at 6pm at the Hi-Fi Bar until April 22.
Luke Buckmaster also reviews films on Crikey film blog Cinetology.