Justin Hamilton: Circular

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Much has been written about the phone app Justin Hamilton has created to accompany this show about modern communication. But apart from the obvious tie-in with his topic, the technology is irrelevant… this is a pared-down, gimmick-free show from a comic who usually has much more ambitious aims for his festival offerings.

But the back-to-basics approach has certainly worked, resulting in an hour of funny and classy stand-up, with a relaxed conversational style that belies a subtly well-structured argument that rarely feels the need to announce its presence.

The emerging message of the show is that as the methods of communicating get increasingly easy, what we actually have to say to each other has become correspondingly vacuous. So it’s only right that by simplifying his own delivery methods, Hamilton’s content is allowed to shine.

Anecdotes loosely fitted around the theme range from musing about how he can barrack for a footy team when he knows every unsavoury fact about its players to more personal yarns, such as the bind he found himself in after answering a ‘unknown number’ phone call from someone who seemed to know him so well, he was too ashamed to ask their name.

These are stories most people will identify with on some level, yet Hammo takes things to extremes; his fear of confrontation leading him to embarrassing, yet credible, situations entirely of his own making. If they were sitcom scenes – and they sometimes seem like they are – you would certainly believe them.

In a deliciously pointed pop about his pseudo-lookalike Ben Elton, Hamilton says that unlike the veteran Brit, he’s ‘relevant’. And it’s no idle boast, as his appeal spans demographics without blanding down. A shade under 40, he’s young enough to use the word ‘hashtag’ as a running joke, but with more than enough experience of comedy (17 years) and indeed life to know what he’s talking about.

That’s not to say he’s flawless. The ‘why do people insist on trying on my glasses?’ chunk feels old hat, and the deliberately stuttery delivery quirk of incredulously asking: ‘W-w-w-w-what the fuck?’ is a rather obvious Bill Hicks borrow.

But these are not, ultimately, significant, as this is a time-flies-by hour of relaxed, interesting and funny chat from a comedian who definitely knows what he’s doing. Tweet the word… or better yet, actually tell your real friends face-to-face.

Reviewed at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, April 2011

Review date: 9 Jan 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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