Comedy Review: Charlie Pickering Requests the Pleasure of Your Company – Rockwood Music Hall, New York (07.11.16)

Australian comedian Charlie Pickering, former host of The Project, and current host of The Weekly with Charlie Pickering performed at Rockwood Music Hall in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, on a quiet and cold Monday night.

Let me preface this review by saying two things:

1. I found out later that Madonna (yes, that Madonna) was across town performing a free, acoustic set across town in Washington Square Park at the same time as this event. I enjoyed the show but, in hindsight, I would have preferred to go to a once in a lifetime Madonna show.

2. I am writing this day the after the US Presidential Election, and Donald Trump is the president-elect. Any jokes that were made about it being the end of the world if he ended up winning are now a lot less funny, and scary.

Charlie Pickering is best known for his spot on The Project, but he’s recently started his own TV show, ABC’s The Weekly and explored the stand up aspect of his career. His experience on TV shows has definitely influenced the format of the stand up show. The show was divided into sections, with titles including: “The First Part”, “The Stand Up Part” and “The Miscellaneous Part.”

The first part of his stand up routine was based on Australians not laughing at obvious jokes at stand up gigs – something that was less funny when it happened – and asking people at the front what they do for work. A few jokes about him being a white guy who loves hip hop were well executed, especially when he said he sings along to hip hop music using the word “fella” instead of the much more commonly used “N” word.

Pickering is incredibly eloquent, and his intelligence is always apparent, but his own stand up show lacked confidence. He really shined when interviewing his guest Clive Thompson and playing a news-related game that featured questions based on American stereotypes.

Two guests, comedian Loyiso Gola and Julia Claire performed short stand up sets, which mainly poked fun at white privilege, auto-correct, and anti-depressants.

Fellow Australian Scott Dooley from Triple J and “Are You Smarter Than Dools” fame weighed in on the election. His prediction that a Trump victory means it’s the end of America was funny on Monday night, but knowing what we know now, it isn’t.

Side note: Dooley mentioned a documentary he recently made, where he traveled around America and interviewed people about their political beliefs. He was definitely a worthy candidate to discuss the spectacle the world has been exposed to through the campaign. Keep an eye out for the documentary!

Pickering interviewed Clive Thompson who is a journalist for The New York Times and tried to bring some humor into the intellectual discussion. This would have worked better had the subject not been so rigid with his responses.

During the game section, comedian Julia Claire chose the section “Why Trump?” and attempted to answer questions about why people in her country sympathize with him so much. This would have been a lot funnier had Thompson not interrupted to give his intellectual opinions so many times.

The topic “May Cause Death” poked fun at the big pharmaceutical companies’ tendency to dramatize the possible side effects of drugs and the TV commercials that advertise them. If you’ve ever seen any of these ads, you would definitely identify with the confusion that goes hand in hand with seeing them for the first time.

Overall, the show made all us Aussies in the audience laugh and feel like we weren’t alone in observing and calling out the craziness of this place. Seeing local celebrities here also gave us a sense of familiarity. I just wish the jokes about the end of America following a Trump victory didn’t feel so real now.

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