Words by Samuel McDonough
‘Almost’ is a strong word for this one I’m afraid.
I’m a pretty big fan of the ABC’s Utopia series, and indeed Luke McGregor's character within it. His character’s perceptive and scathing analysis of the often-maniacal situations which arise are delivered by Luke with visceral indignity and serve to break the tension perfectly. I was interested to see how his talent for banter translated to the lonely stage of stand-up comedy.
The Corona Theatre of the Garden of Unearthly Delights is one of the larger spaces for performers. Luke’s was a sell-out. The 7:15 time-slot meant people had just enough time for a drink or two before the show, and so were primed and excited to see the star of the recent ‘Lukewarm Sex’ documentary to take the stage. Luke does his own announcement off stage and walks on with the air of nervousness common to the characters he plays. He, after announcing that his parents are here in the audience, awkwardly begins his show.
The show’s primary theme is the fact that he’d finally managed to get a girlfriend after over thirty years, having only had sex on two occasions beforehand, and dealing with the foibles of modern relationships. His jokes are delivered with a high-pitched tone punctuating the end of every sentence, a marker for when the joke his ended. It’s charming and reinforces the character that is Luke McGregor as the nervous, anxious, virgin, goober redhead. However, as mentioned, delivery is never his problem.
The unfortunate truth is that Luke’s jokes are not terribly well written. A good joke can be told by anyone and get a good laugh. Recite Luke’s material to your friends and they’d be forgiven for asking where the joke lies. He tells a story of a woman who took his wallet from him on a tram in Melbourne for the purpose of him writing a joke about it. He then says he didn’t. I was left perplexed. Is he making up the story of somebody taking his wallet? Is he trying to undermine himself by putting two clearly opposing statements together? Is he acknowledging that what he just said isn’t actually a joke? In any case, I didn't find it very funny and left the show feeling disappointed and underwhelmed.
Luke McGregor is far better at scripted comedy than he is at stand-up.