Luke Escombe – Chronic
Luke Escombe @ Adelaide Town Hall – Prince Alfred Room
9:15pm, Sun 26 Feb 2012
As I scurry to the Town Hall, I dwell on the fact that I know absolutely nothing about Luke Escombe. I check the Guide in the moments before being allowed into the venue… “He spent years trying to be a family-friendly acoustic folk artiste. The charade nearly killed him.”
Ah. That probably explains why this show made my shortlist.
The Prince Alfred Room is pretty small – just as well, really, since there weren’t that many people willing to come out on a Sunday evening to see a relatively unknown comedian. A dozen people, tops. As is my wont these days, I encourage as many people as possible to sit near the “stage”, on which a variety of musical instruments were scattered.
Escombe presents himself with dapper geek chic – patterned suit, matching vest and fedora – and, despite the curious physical presentation, is remarkably pleasant. Opening with Hard 2 B A Pimp (he relishes the contrast between the pimp persona and his gangly white nerdiness), he delivers much of his performance in comedy-laced songs; he tries his hardest to get the audience involved (and best succeeds during Damn Girl (poppa cap in that ass), featuring some comical falsetto), but a sober Sunday night Adelaide crowd didn’t seem to be willing to come along.
While Escombe also plays guitar and keys over the top of pre-recorded backing (or generated loops), I suspect that many of his songs would work much better with his usual band backing. And despite a decent range of styles that he brings to his music – the ragga-esque Jerk Ya Coq is a bit of a surprise – he starts to lose the audience with Too Old to do New Drugs. His personal enounters with IBS, and his work as a spokesperson for Crohn’s & Colitis Australia, is most certainly interesting… but, if anything, it pushed the crowd further away, rather than bringing them back in.
Look – no matter what the rest of the crowd thought (and their reaction as the show progressed became noticeably less enthusiastic), I reckon Luke Escombe is a perfectly genial, non-confrontational, inclusive comic. Which is nice and all… but there’s a wealth of such talent is around during Fringe-time. And, all things considered, I’d prefer someone to shock me, to challenge me, or make me think long after I’ve left the venue… while something like Golden Retriever Breeder is smirk-worthy at the moment of delivery, it isn’t going to be tickling my neurons much after-the-fact.