Gordon Southern: Nisolation | Melbourne International Comedy Festival review
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Gordon Southern: Nisolation

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review

If you’re going to make an entire show about being in Covid lockdown, it’s probably a good idea not to make it too realistic - advice that comes unfortunately too late for Gordon Southern to heed. 

The English comic ended up staying in Adelaide for a bit longer than the original 'two to three weeks' he had planned last March in the hope that this pandemic thing would blow over, even beginning a new relationship in the most extreme circumstances imaginable. 

On paper this would appear to be pretty good fodder for a stand-up hour from an experienced storyteller, but unfortunately a lack of focus, some avoidable over-engineering and a bewildering mixture of tones results in the sort of lockdown time drag that surely could not have been the intention. 

Southern has a winning, slightly manic energy that brings Robin Williams to mind, but while powering through some solid, straightforward observational gear he takes some unexpected and decidedly strange detours, patently struggling to bring everyone else in the room along on the ride. 

By way of example, attempts to illustrate the cabin fever that Covid engendered leads to a painfully long angler fish personification as well as a baffling dog/cat hybrid character that he created to entertain his girlfriend. It's quite possibly illustrative of some of the bizarre efforts made to offset boredom and anxiety in the early stages of lockdown, but not exactly relatable. 

Meanwhile, a surfeit of audio effects and underwhelming visual slideshow make an already busy show even more unwieldy, and a list of box-ticking callbacks heaped into the closing stretch either require explanation or land with a clunk.

Southern is clearly a talented performer and there’s some enjoyable segments here, so it’s difficult to know whether the incongruity of styles and content is consistent with previous efforts or partly the result of a spectacularly unusual year. Happily, he’ll apparently be calling Australia home for a while to come, so plenty of time to find out.  

Review date: 8 Apr 2021
Reviewed by: Patrick Horan

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