Chris McCausland

Chris McCausland

Chris McCausland: Yonks!

Review of the comic's new stand-up tour

The wheel may remain resolutely unreinvented in Chris McCausland’s new tour, but he uses it to cement his reputation as a skilled practitioner of relatable everyman comedy.

He covers such dependable territory as nostalgia for the recent past, the raw humiliation of intimate medical procedures and stories of drinking too much – tried-and-tested topics all. He’s a comic who’s happy to assert what the difference between men and women is and not give a hoot that the cutting-edge kids would see the very premise as a hack. Gender binaries are so 2017.

But McCausland – growing his audience with increasingly frequent TV and radio appearances – shows that being mainstream doesn’t have to be bland, with a witty set buoyed by his genial cynicism and cheery self-deprecation.  He taps into the notion that Britain’s a bit shit, but we actually quite like it that way, as perfectly epitomised by the low standards of the former polys where he sought his education in the 1990s.

He leans a bit into the computer degree he got - useless after so many technological advances – to consider the future of smart TVs and an AI future, including a rare lapse into cliché when he mocks the apparently trivial ‘are you a robot?’ online tests.

Going back further, he recalls embarrassing school stories relived from a safe, decades-long distance. But he also recalls himself as a classroom smartarse – some things never change – with a clever-dick question for the RE teacher in which he challenges the existence of God. 

He was baffled by Shakespeare, however – no wonder, given the Bard simply made up so many of his words. McCausland’s take on this isn’t up to the standards of Aussie comedian Frank Woodley’s version, but McCausland’s audience – and even the comic himself – are very unlikely to have encountered that verbally dextrous display.

McCausland’s blindness, when he mentions it, normally comes as tagline to his jokes rather than their essence, in keeping with a set that emphasises how much he has in common with his audience rather than any differences. The turnip routine being a notable example.

But existing in an all-audio world informs some of his strongest routines, such as mulling the noises artificially added to electric cars so people like him don’t get run over. 

Mostly, he doesn’t need any extra reasons to be baffled by the world or get himself into embarrassing situations, but when his lack of sight amplifies the situations, it’s all the funnier.

Being a straight-talker leads him to a slight backlash against wokeness, such as the feedback he got from overcautious TV executives whose suggestions would have demolished a joke they claimed to love. But when he mocks the convoluted euphemisms people use to avoid calling him ‘blind’, the joke is in the cringiness of the exchange.

There’s no grand theme here, and when he occasionally tries sincerity, such as advising men to do health checks, it jars a little with the easy conversational style he’s mastered.  Nor is there much of a structure beyond a few callbacks, sparingly used but nicely rewarding.

But for uncomplicated stand-up that aims to be more universal than personal, McCausland is a very safe pair of hands.

Support comes from the silky-voiced Jon Long, wryly amusing about topics such as moving to the big city, although his low-wattage, almost ambient, humour is too underpowered and unhurried to be more than gently amusing.

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Published: 29 Jan 2024

Great show, proper stand up, honest straightforward…


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