Adam Hills: Joymonger

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Adam Hills is human Prozac; a surefire pick-me-up for even the most jaded comedy-goer. Given that you’re guaranteed to delight in an hour of his company, the question is how he chooses to use his overwhelming warmth of spirit.

The aptly named Joymonger has an uplifting a message as ever, with Hills taking his cue from the drivers of Athens, whose streets are so choked in traffic that even the slightest accident can cause hours of gridlock. Knowing they’re going nowhere, the motorists don’t get frustrated, they pump up their stereos and dance on the Roof of their cars, figuring that celebration is better than stress.

The things that threaten to get Hills down range from the trivial to the horrible; from petty bureaucracy overwhelming common sense to odious drunks who insist on telling him repellently racist jokes. On many counts, the anecdotes he tells her are rather mundane – though the Australians’ shock reaction of the commonplace British occurrence of a train delayed for the want of someone to drive it is worth experiencing – but they are told with such unassailable charm, that it doesn’t seem to matter much.

Hills is such an upbeat, generous-spirited performer that it’s hard to see him getting truly enraged about any of these irritations. There’s no anger here to be mined for comedy, just a mild bewilderment at certain ingrained, narrow-minded attitudes. He’s very much like the sweet, elderly British lady he sees become exasperated at the jobsworth service in a sandwich shop before sighing: ‘This country’s weird.’ It’s not the sort of anecdote to start a revolution, but Hills has an eye for bringing out the humour in everyday encounters, which he then uses to reinforce his own upbeat message about spreading the happiness.

It’s in that spirit that he banters with the audience, chasing latecomers up and down the theatre’s aisles to their seats to give them the lightest of grillings. In truth, not much comes from these conversations other than a sense of fluidity, and perhaps the satisfaction for punters of having the bloke off telly’s Spicks and Specks pop quiz talk to them.

But that’s the essence of Hills’ everyman appeal. He is exactly the sort of bloke you instinctively do want to chat to, certain that he’ll bring some cheer into your day. With Joymonger, Hills doesn’t set his sights at doing anything more than – but it’s a worthy aim, and one he achieves with ease.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melbourne, April 2007

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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