Rod Quantock: 2050AD The Musical

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

‘For the past 12 years, this man’s written all my jokes for me,’ veteran comic Rod Quantock says wistfully as a picture of the hated John Howard fills the screen. Now what’s this merrily uncompromising left-winger going to talk about in the first Melbourne Comedy Festival since 1995 under a Labor administration?

Oh, just the complete meltdown of civilisation, that’s all; as he cheerily pulls up how long the oil will last (if we don’t overheat the planet first), and lists all the petrochemical products we’ll lose, from movies to pills, let alone the energy. Then there’s the water supply, which can barely sustain the current seven billion people, let alone the nine billion expected by 2050. It’s miserably depressing stuff, if ever you stop to think about it for a moment, but Quantock romps through it all with a casual, fatalistic air. If we’re going down, we might as well go down laughing.

For the bleakness of humanity’s prospects, Quantock, who turns 60 this year, has suddenly become excited by technology. Which is generous of him, considering it was technology that got us into this mess in the first place.

Now he’s got a camcorder, laptops, wireless communications and a projector to illustrate this show, taking the leap from the whiteboards he’s traditionally used and embracing the gadgetry with the zeal of any late convert. We find my London home on Google Earth, with Quantock disappointed it’s only a flat, then pull up the doomsday clock monitoring the swelling population and dwindling reserves.

All this is covered with great, avuncular playfulness, with the collapse of life as we know it being treated with the same amusement as his mechanical toys. Younger comics might get angry at the state of the world, but Quantock, who should be preserved as an official Australian national treasure, has been around long enough to laugh off the stupidity of mankind. And, after all, he can afford to be glib – he won’t be around to see this horrible future.

He’s built his audience – and stuck to his principles – over decades on stage, and Quantock’s modest but loyal fans are given exactly what they expect. But a straw poll of the audience finds some late converts, too – which is just as it should be: you can’t say you’ve been to the Melbourne Comedy Festival if you haven’t seen Rod Quantock’s show.

Never mind the oil and the water, a world without Quantock is hard to imagine.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 5 Apr 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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