Nick Sun: Joymeat

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Nick Sun abhors comfort. The fact that either he or his audience might know exactly where they stand is anathema, and he’ll do anything to subvert that. While this particular performance, though by no means conventional, goes pretty well, you can almost feel him fighting the urge to throw a spanner into the works.

But he restrains himself. And by that, I mean he ends up on all fours barking like a demented pig-dog, grunting the same punchline into the microphone dozens of times and plunging this makeshift venue into and out of pitch darkness every time he says the word ‘frangipani’ – which occurs rather more often than you would think. This, on his terms, is a tight performance.

Such extreme surrealism elicits those laughs of discomfort that Sun seeks, despite his blatant contempt for audiences or, indeed, the entire process of ‘comedy’. His apparent displays of psychotic behaviour prove strangely funny; the primeval response to a threat dissipated while still remaining nervously alert.

Amid the madness are some routines you could nearly call conventional… the stretch Hummer chunk has a barbed whimsy, while the multi-layered material that brilliantly fuses the fact that all foetuses start as females with mankind’s African origins is inspired in its warped, convention-rattling logic.

Such segments anchor the more outrageous examples of Sun’s raw disdain. Most comics who promise unhinged lunacy actually deliver it in its non-scary form known as zany. With Sun, you often get the real deal, where being genuinely disconcerted and/or baffled is just as valid a response as laughter.

By forging an fragile alliance of inspired, well-thought through gags with this more unconstrained oddness, Sun has created a show that is almost accessible, without abandoning his need to disrupt. The result is still a bumpy ride – and you’d be hard-pressed to recommend Joymeat unconditionally – but there’s certainly interesting work being done here away from Sun’s usual compunction to self-sabotage.

Review date: 19 Apr 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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