Words by Paul Maland
Greg Fleet’s latest show These Things Happen is a shift in tone for the Australian comedian. With a recently released autobiography detailing his thirty-plus year addiction to heroin and other antisocial misadventures as the backdrop, Fleet has emerged with an honest, insightful commentary on the effects moral destitution has on a man who makes strangers happy for a living.
Fleety’s These Things Happen stage show is not a direct adaptation of his autobiographical book of the same title, however it is does dip heavily into some of the same content, with all the theatrical stand-up nuances you would expect. Presented in a highlight-reel style format, These Things Happens showcases the more anecdotal content of the book, while taking the time to emphasize to the intimate audiences the absurdity of consequences caused by actions while in “the hole” of addiction (which is, by the way, a metaphor).
The final show of Fleet’s season at this year’s Adelaide Fringe took place on Saturday in the smaller, intimate beer-garden section of The Rhino Room. Fleet took the time to also answer audience questions directed at his Twitter (@thegregfleet) in the weeks preceding the show, some of which were said to have never been seen by Fleet until being read on stage. Tougher questions for the comedian included whether or not Fleet’s supposed sobriety is legitimate (as he has falsely claimed it to be in the past), what his motivations for doing the show are (answer: redemption), and whether or not Fleet’s publicized drug-fueled theft ever resulted in the pawning of his daughters belongings. These things happen. Audience questions were approached as brazenly as they were asked, but with comedic softening and, overall, honesty; as a man who has recently put most of his life to print in recent months, avoidance or diversion are not in Fleet’s repertoire.
Fleety powered through his anecdotes and pre-written material, taking the occasional sideline to recount previous audience reactions to parts of the show, to make points clear to the audience, or to dispel rumors. Unlike being on LSD in Hyde Park, the audience is never left wondering what exactly is happening or why. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though; Fleet is, after all, a comedian. The set was punctuated with true-to-life absurdity that only the most bitter of cynics wouldn’t find amusing. Although the show appears at times to be very off-the-cuff and casual through the anecdotal material, it has been carefully crafted to allow the audience a taste of each emotion readers of the book get to explore, before a light-hearted send-off (thankfully not to the army, as Fleet explains).
These Things Happen, the book, is available from most bookstores, and one final show is rumored to be happening at The Rhino Room in the final week of The Fringe (details to be announced at Adelaide Comedy).