Jon Brooks – Breaking News
Jon Brooks @ Austral Hotel – The Bunka
9:30pm, Thu 8 Mar 2012
The morning after the city-ruining Fringe opening parade, which left the streets strewn with detritus both cast-off and human, I bumped into a stern looking Jon Brooks in front of the Austral. I’ve chatted with him before, mainly about our shared love of Bill Hicks (Brooks introduced the first screening of American in Adelaide), so I stop to say hello and ask how he fared on opening night. He looked disgusted: “drunk wankers everywhere,” he lamented, “I saw pissed people holding up an ambulance that was trying to take someone to Emergency.” We chat a little about politics before I depart, and I assure him that his show is on my Shortlist.
(As an aside, a passerby heard us talking about the Fringe and stopped: “there’s too many venues,” she complained, “There’s too many shows.”)
And so I arrive at The Bunka on this evening, and waiting outside is a couple who I’d seen at a couple of shows previously (starting with The Boy James). We chat and compare notes – they rave about Spoonface Steinberg again, escalating it up my List – before we settle in for Brooks’ comedy.
Noting that today was International Woman’s Day, Brooks opens with a piece that – at first blush – felt sexist… before it evolves into an expression of outright revulsion and disgust firmly aimed at The Project‘s Carrie Bickmore, which ended with an evocative depiction of Bickmore being staked through two orifices. Opening tirade over, Brooks grins broadly at the small assembled crowd – we’re all on board, and ready for the ride.
But despite the name of the show, and the topicality of the opening piece, a large amount of the show is spent telling comic stories of a personal nature – and, in particular, the intervention that Brooks’ family forced upon him when he went home to Port Pirie for Christmas. It’s a funny story, but also carries with it hints of compassion and alcoholism truisms – a really well-rounded piece of writing.
Things head back towards the news again as Brooks recalls one of the first pieces of newspaper reporting he undertook – the tale of Midnight Lenny in Andamooka – before he rounds out proceedings by comparing the power struggles of the Labour Rudd/Gillard factions to the public pop-brutality of Chris Brown/Rihanna. And that piece, once again, highlights the strength of Brooks’ writing and delivery: rapid-fire descriptions that get twisted and turned for great comedic effect.
Jon Brooks is a bloody brilliant comedian, combining an ability for astute analysis with a coarse acerbic tongue and pacey, punchy delivery. Add onto that a fearless approach to his material selection, and he’s totally won me over.