Gareth Berliner : An INCH of Integrity
Gareth Berliner @ Gluttony – Funny Pork
10:00pm, Fri 9 Mar 2012
During the 2011 Feast Festival, I spent a bit of time with my Fringe Buddy down at the Feast Hub catching comedy and cabaret shows alike. After one show, we wound up boozing on with the comedian we’d just seen; as soon as my Buddy was out of earshot (on her way to the ladies), the comedian had turned to me and said – with an endearing earnestness – “I’ve got a massive cock.”
“That’s just great for you,” I told him, “but I have no interest in it whatsoever.”
That’s a mildly amusing story in my memory. But its relevance to this blog post (besides the publishing of the memory for posterity) is that this comedian – who had himself provided some solid laughter earlier on that evening – had raved about Gareth Berliner. Raved. His favourite-comedian-ever kind of rave… so much raving, in fact, that I’d drunkenly stabbed at my phone’s virtual keyboard to enter Berliner’s name for future reference.
And so it was that I came to be sitting in the Funny Pork tent for the last show on my birthday. Now, I’d caught (half of) a Rhino Room late show on March 6 where Berliner had performed a spot, and he struck me as being pretty funny there – stories of being molested by a German lesbian and being dumped by an epileptic lass (moments after taking viagra) were told with a frankness and eye for comic detail that impressed. But when those same jokes appeared this evening… well, they (understandably) lacked the punch of unknown material, but they also felt longer, stretched out… softer.
Whilst I identified with Berliner’s nice-guy-getting-shat-upon persona, most of his stories didn’t really feel like they reached any particular climax. They’re all very nice stories, well constructed and told – meeting and living with his fiancé, travel and drug experiences, a frank discussion of his own diseases and hospitalisations – and they’re all sprinkled with humorous nuggets. But there doesn’t appear to be any thread joining these stories together, and they lack the comedic punch on their own to result in uproarious laughter – a fact that alienated the row of girls sitting in front of me, who spent most of the show looking at each other quizzically, trying to see if anyone in the group had figured “it” out.
But here’s the thing – Gareth Berliner is such a genuinely nice guy, and so earnest and honest in his approach, that it’s hard to remember this show in a negative light. It was just… nice. Sure, he may be more of a raconteur than a filthy laugh-merchant; but I guess the moral of this post is that you shouldn’t necessarily put someone on your Must-See Comedy List on the advice of a well-endowed gay comedian who’s hitting on you. And, having just typed it, that really should have been obvious at the time.