Andrew McClelland: Truth Be Told

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

In previous festivals, the ever-jolly Andrew McClelland has produced enthusiastic, professorial jaunts through topics such as pirates, pop music and the Roman Empire. But this year he has deviated from that winning formula and turned his curiosity on to himself – producing even more impressive results.

Truth Be Told is an extended, digression-filled yarn about trying to act on his romantic feelings towards the coat-check girl at Melbourne Museum, a story that’s full of tongue-tied approaches, confusing signals, and reminiscences about previous heartaches.

McClelland has taken a leaf out of Daniel Kitson’s book in spinning a tender-hearted, yarn full of linguistic beauty. But it’s only an influence, as the Australian is very much his own comedian with a style that’s more fervent in his lust for life, more animated in its delivery and more obviously personal in its content.

McClelland’s debonair disposition is irresistibly appealing, and the sheer sense of glee he has, even when knocked by moments of romantic disappointment, is gloriously infectious. He’s playful with the audience, and with himself, affable even when he’s being condescending.

Hanging like baubles from the central branch of his tale are apparently unconnected anecdotes about starring in a Czech music video, his vivaciously anachronistic Italian barber and of hanging out with a former French Foreign Legion sniper in the bowels of the Arc De Triomphe. McClelland, dapper in classic three-piece suit, has a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek way of introducing these stories without losing his thread of his search for love.

Some of these are instantly classic stand-up routines, such as his description of Western Australia’s worst tourist attraction, or the perfect metaphor for parental pressure to pay a visit.

The story is littered with amusing asides, charmingly frank self-analysis and zinging turns of phrase, topped with a garnish of wordplay, including the Emile Zola pun of which he is inordinately proud. Don’t worry, though, it’s far from an explicitly clever-clever show, but a wonderfully told, universal story, full of honesty and laughs, that will resonate with anyone who’s ever had a crush.

Reviewed at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, April 2011

Review date: 1 Jan 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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