You may remember Paul McDermott from our television screens back in the eighties as one of the Doug Anthony All Stars. He’s not as stunningly attractive these days, but with his new bearded look, one could say that he’s still got a certain appeal – to other men with beards, perhaps.
Forty years of entertaining audiences has certainly honed his comedic skills. His self-deprecating style of witty banter had the COVID-distanced crowd in the Rhino Room in stitches. McDermott has always been topical, and the recent trauma of the coronavirus and the recent Australian political landscape gave him plenty of fodder to work with.
Not that the Adelaideans in the room missed out on the sting of his barbs. Like a stern headmaster, he chided us for our seemingly indifference to the horrors unfolding in the outside world. Coming from Sydney, McDermott was aghast to find locals gleefully pressing pedestrian crossing buttons, then licking their fingers afterwards (metaphorically speaking).
The more pointed and angrier that McDermott became, the louder the raucous laughs of approval became. The role of comic can often be to expose uneasy truths in this world, and this is McDermott’s forte. Therein lies his appeal. During the night there were several expressions of love, adoration and sexual favours from the audience. Rather than treating interruptions as something that detracts from the show, McDermott revels in the interchange.
Performing to an audience is the only thing that he knows how to do. The show is both structured, yet chaotic. He revels in the distractions and goes off on so many tangents that he threatens that he may not be able to fit everything in. When leading us through the stages of grief, you don’t want him to get stuck at ‘loss’. Songs about SCOMO, Coronavirus and Pete Evans seem to be made up on the spot with scraps of paper with scrawled notes flying everywhere.
All too soon it’s time the show to end, but that doesn’t stop him and his plus one, Glenn, moving the show to the street, busker style. I should mention in passing that the plus one style works a treat, as a perfect foil to the madness. Passers-by had to stop and shake their heads to believe what was going on. But in this, hopefully, post-Covid world, scenes such as these will become the new normal again. The pared-down Adelaide Fringe is hope of a brighter future and that is one that will definitely have Paul McDermott and his plus one at front and centre. Chaotic fun at its finest.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The reviewer attended the performance on 4th March.
Paul McDermott – PLUS ONE plays at the Rhino Room until 13th March.
Tickets available from the Adelaide Fringe Website here