Thursday, March 3, 2011





Rhino Room

10pm til March 12

Big Love, Fleet tells us on opening night, is an experimental show. Everything is cool. If you want to get up and go to the bar or the loo, nobody is going to pick on you. If you want to say something in the chat sections go right ahead. “It’s all about the love”. The format is ‘chat show with guests’ so how it goes is up to the guests and us, the audience. So far, so good. Mick Moriarty (Gud/Gadflys) arrives and sings a great song. Then he and Fleet sing a very amusing song about treefrogs, and things are looking great. Fleet announces their first guest is Fiona O’Loughlin who does ten or fifteen minutes of material about growing up in rural Australia and being homophobic until she was in her late 20’s; then proceeds to tell highly homophobic jokes. I find it incredibly tedious when comedians use the tool of saying “isn’t it terrible when people are homophobic when they say things like ‘fill-in-homophobic-joke’”. You are still doing that material. It’s still offensive. It’s still homophobic.

But wait, there’s more. “My grandmother is so racist.” continues O’Loughlin [insert a number of racist jokes]. When she finishes, she sits in the guest area while Fleet and Moriaty do a fantastic ‘Noir Detective’ song. Okay, back on track.

Enter second guest, Lawrence Mooney, who gets on stage and wants to tell ‘hilarious’ stories about getting wasted with reformed drug addict Fleet and reformed alcoholic O’Loughlin. “Remember that night we got wasted on that acid?” Fleet, Moriarty and McLaughlin roar laughing ‘Oh yeah, that was awesome’ and it quickly degenerates to a bunch of semi-retired party animals telling stories about their glory days of bad drug behaviour, which left much to be desired as stand-up. Eventually Mooney decides to do some material, and seems to take O’Loughlin’s lead and plunges straight into even worse racist jokes, dropping racial slurs like they were going out of fashion (which incidentally, they have). I hasten to add that my disdain at this kind of material was not shared by some members of the audience, who howled at both guests, with one woman behind me in fits at every new questionable term dropped. So, as comedy is completely subjective, and some people dig that kind of comedy and that kind of comedian, I acknowledge not everyone was offended. But both guests left me cold. I couldn’t say if Mooney or O’Loughlin do shows that revolve solely around this kind of material, I don’t intend to find out.

Given the stated intent of the show (‘It’s all about the love’), to have both guests doing such hateful material didn’t work for me at all. I did however enjoy everything Fleet and Moriarty did and suspect that on a different night, with a different line-up, it really could be quite the magical love-fest we were promised at the start.

Ian Bell

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