Words by Paul Maland
Greg Fleet is a comedian, playwright, author, and actor from St Kilda, Victoria. Recently relocated to South Yarra, the jack-of-all-trades of the Australian performance arts is no stranger to Adelaide, having performed at every Adelaide Fringe festival since 1988. He's also written a book here, These Things Happen, which last year's stand-up show was based on.
This year, Fleety has brought two shows to the Adelaide Fringe: Signifying Nothing, a play which combines Shakespeare with contemporary Australian politics, and We Are Idiots, a stand-up performance written with material from the past year that highlights the beauty of human idiocy — something Greg Fleet is all too familiar with.
Fleety's work over the past two years, through both the written and performed works of These Things Happen, has been a starkly honest retrospective on his own misadventure. The unassuming comedic edge of this year's Signifying Nothing serves as a mechanism to deliver powerful prose, and both pieces cement Fleet's ability to use the jokey-telly as a way to deliver stirring commentary.
Despot of his own fate, Fleet barreled into the Beer Garden of the Rhino Room a casual ten minutes late. "I'm sorry I'm late, ladies and gentleman," he began, making his way across the room slowly toward the stage. "I was in a cab," he remarks, still wearing the suit from his performance in Signifying Nothing, which finishes across town in the Holden Street Theatres directly prior to his stand-up show.
"No, no. This will simply not do," he said in his coy, faux-posh accent, gesturing towards the vacant front row to an otherwise full room. After a brief audience readjustment to fill the front row, the show began.
We Are Idiots is a return to form for the comedian, focusing less on the life lessons of a life of idiocy, and rather on the observations of an idiot, which everyone, if being honest, should identify as. Having clothes fitted, spotting celebrities at the gym, the hilarity of "people coming here and taking our jobs", the usual.
There are a few spots of dark humour that Fleety shines a light on, such as seeing your successful friends on billboards and giant televisions while you sweat it out in an over-sized t-shirt on a footpath in South Yarra, or your stuff being stolen that the same week as your father dies, topped off by your favourite sports team losing, but the show's overall a light-hearted step forward from the doom and gloom of lives past.
The bits are well written, though after Fleety's tumultuous week of critical success and large, Adelaide Fringe scaled nights out, sometimes the rhythm fell victim to wandering tangents. All in all, we are indeed all idiots, and if anyone's the man to remind us how, particularly in the fitting surrounding of the Rhino Room before the iconic purple Adelaide building falls to the ground, Fleety's the one to do it.
You can catch Greg Fleet in We Are Idiots at the Rhino Room beer-garden until March 18, and Signifying Nothing at Holden Street Theatres until the 19th.