Paul McCarthy in Identity Crisis
REVIEW: Samuel J. Cox
Well known for his role in the hilarious sketch show Comedy Inc., comedian Paul McCarthy's stand up show seriously missed the mark.
McCarthy seemed nice, but he was hopelessly lost. He couldn't segue from one joke into the next without a prompt, and was rambling at best. He bumbled from one poorly-structured story to the next in a manner that was painful to watch.
Attempting to chart his rise from a self-described shy, nervous boy to a "man of a 1000 faces" (while never actually making a clear reference to the titular crisis), his material and delivery had me uncomfortably squirming in my seat. Focusing excessively upon his relationship to his mother (and her sex life), it was depressingly sad rather than funny. Furthermore, the harsh halo of light illuminating him had McCarthy blinded and sweating, so he spoke to the ground- rather than the crowd- and looked as defeated as he sounded.
It was not totally atrocious, and McCarthy was at his best comically when perfectly impersonating the likes of Julia Gillard, David Koch, Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnball. He was particularly scathing in his portrayal of Education Minister Christopher Pyne as a pathetic myrmidon. Undoubtedly a skilled imitator, what McCarthy ultimately lacked was his own unique voice.
In between slating the Catholic Church, comparing Julia Gillard's voice to a drag queen with emphysema, and labelling Woody Allen, "America's Rolf Harris", he proved himself a talented singer when he covered Katy Perry's hit song Roar and Boy George's track Karma Chameleon.
The show was crippled before it began, as technical issues robbed McCarthy's set of its accompanying PowerPoint. Recognising that this was the preview performance, such glitches can be forgiven. His delivery of the material could even be reinvented for his next performances, but the content itself is awful.
The audience were treated to glimpses of hope, where it seemed the set might take a dramatic turn for the better, but these were deceptive will-o-the-wisps. This show requires extensive revision and polish, and I cannot in good conscience recommend it.