Tom Gleeson: Going At It With A Big Stick

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Tom Gleeson can get a lot out of a very little; taking the slightest of anecdotes and stringing them out to extended routines.

He’s certainly a skilled public speaker, drawing the audience in so they are rapt, waiting for even the slightest plot advancement in such inconsequential domestic tales as the time he was messing about with his dog.

Never is this employed to better effect than the yarn he spills about two of his friends, playing an epically cruel practical joke on their mates out camping in the bush. It’s a masterful piece of storytelling which he’s honed over the years – but it certainly isn’t the first time he’s told it in a festival show.

But this is really the only story he has with substance at its heart, and for all his technical brilliance and intuitive timing, Gleeson can’t completely disguise the foundations of clay on which some of the other routines are built. They remain only moderately amusing, however skilfully he builds the set-up with careful repetition and pregnant pauses.

He is an immensely likeable presence, but when he attempts more jokey material, the inspiration is often slight, with easy quips about how he’s ginger, or how he’s balding, or the reassuring voices of airline pilots.

But then he’ll come up with some better ideas, too. His story of getting a massage from a bloke isn’t up to much, but the switch at the end makes the long build-up almost worth it, and he starts with a playfully silly skit, in which he tries to have the last clap in a round of applause, a very nice way of getting the audience warmed up and – like everything else in this effortlessly slick hour – expertly executed.

He has an affable stage presence and gripping storytelling skills, but his tales need sharpening on the lathe of less tolerant audiences. It means he feels more like a ‘personality’ than a comedian.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melbourne, April 2009

Review date: 1 Apr 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

What do you think?

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.