Charlie Pickering: Betterman [Melbourne]
Show type: Melbourne 2005
This show has not yet got a description.
We know very little about Charlie Pickering at the end of his hour-long show; which is bizarre when you consider the whole concept was supposed to be all about the steps he took to improve himself.
But it turns out not to be that at all, just a collection of soft-edged discourses on several familiar betes noires of today’s fashionable liberal – media pressure on women to look good, the evils of organised religion and so forth – plus everyday observational takes on the likes of late-night adverts or gym workout machines.
Nor do we learn little about him from his persona, which seems little more than an amalgam of various festival favourites, rather than a distinctive voice of his own.
He starts off very Dave Gorman, engaging in a pointless exercise to break the internet with infinite loops of email autoreplies, illustrated with a smart bit of computer animation of which he seems inordinately proud. But why we should care about such a simple-to-execute bit of timewasting is beyond me.
Elsewhere there are touches of Adam Hills, particularly in the section about women’s magazines that closely echoes some of his material, combined with Daniel Kitson’s habit of affecting a superfly street accent to emphasise a point. But what’s funny for Kitson, the least fashionable person in the world, doesn’t work for the much more cool, image-conscious Pickering.
He does the job all right: people warm to his easy banter, and he’s got the rhythms and upbeat delivery down to pat. But the style seems slightly bland, more suited to one of the countless sunny Australian radio stations with ‘Triple’ in the title than it is for a stand-up supposedly aiming for something exciting.
Given the plaudits he earned for his 2004 show, Revolver, you could have though he’s capable of a lot better, man.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melbourne, April 2005