Dressed in jeans, sneakers and a suitably hip NPR T-shirt, Charlie Pickering cut a casual figure as he performed his one and only stand-up show as part of the Perth International Comedy Festival.
He held court with a politically and socially aware routine that was clever and funny but not quite hilarious or side-splitting.
As you might expect of the former Triple J scallywag and current host of hit show The Project, much of the 34-year-old's routine was up with the news, from the pros and cons of buying fair trade coffee to the overzealous acts of the Sea Shepherd.
"If the Japanese are killing whales for research purposes, as they insist, won't we look stupid for protesting when they cure cancer, AIDS and diabetes!"
Mining boom jokes will always go down well in Perth, and the Melbourne lad played that up to the 700-strong crowd, getting them on side early with his shock response at being charged $28 for a focaccia. "Screw the mining boom, I'm getting in on the focaccia boom! I'll buy shares!"
Some jokes worked better than others, with a gangster rap routine falling largely flat and interaction with front row patrons not nearly as lively or spontaneous as they could be. And despite Pickering performing the same routine at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival recently, he seemed a little nervous at times, leading to some quieter spots in his hour-long show.
Some of it seemed too rehearsed, with one sketch leaping to another without rhyme or reason.
Yet there is no doubting the talents of the socially conscious entertainer, who could tell a story with the best of them. Indeed, stories from Pickering's real life provided the best gags, from jibes about the rude doodles he draws during The Project to an extended story about being banned from a chat room after jousting with the webmaster.
That's where Pickering - who was one of the final acts in the 19-day festival - exercised his intellectual muscle and showed a gift for deploying F-bombs mixed with his often highbrow language, clearly relishing his freedom from a PG timeslot.Without putting his Perth fans in stitches, Pickering was erudite and amusing and proved his place as one of Australia's sharpest young wits.
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