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Asher Treleaven: Troubadour

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

I know what you’re thinking – as comics are fond of saying. Not another comedy show themed around Edward De Bono’s 1985 meta-conceptual problem-solving technique Six Thinking Hats.

But the unique concept is less an aid to Asher Treleaven’s show than an albatross. It’s an arbitrary device to split an otherwise disjointed show into chapters, yet requires so much explanatory set-up that the top of the hour sounds more like a business seminar than stand-up.

Yet even as mere architecture, the concept doesn’t provide much support. The ‘green hat’ of creativity is a section that showcase his street-performing skills, which is immediately followed by a rant against gay marriage opponents, arbitrarily assigned the ‘yellow hat’ of positive thinking.

But it’s understandable why he’s used such a framing device as he really needs a way of holding this rag-bag of routines together. How else to jump from an anecdote from his time as a child-friendly mascot to a demonstration with his impressive but futile skills with the doable, to a beat poem about the facts of his life?

Troubadour is designed as an autobiography, so Treleaven is duty-bound to talk about himself to tonight’s modest audience of about 25. But a comic can reveal much about themselves without going into detailed, uneventful chronology such as the origin of his name or the fact he has a stepdad.

At the heart of this show is a great routine about an ultrasound examination Treleaven underwent after finding a lump in his testicles. The appealing combination of serious consequences, dignity-defiling procedure and knob gag potential means he’s not the first comic to deal with such a topic, but he executes it wonderfully, with wit, humility and originality of expression.

Treleaven, who’s twice been nominated for this festival’s Barry award, has the gangly physicality and florid speech patterns of a diluted Russell Brand, which sometimes distract but come into their own in this keystone segment, especially as he recreates the involuntary, inevitable effect of the process, slowly becoming a human hard-on.

Yet there’s the sense that this is a great ten-minute routine Adrift in a rather ordinary hour. The delivery style, plus his innate gregarious charm, and engaging performance techniques such as that beat poem, make the mundane more interesting. But it is, essentially, still mundane.

Review date: 4 Apr 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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