Paco Erhard @ Gluttony – The Pig Pen
10:45pm, Wed 27 Feb 2013
After last year’s curious 5-Step Guide to Being German, I figured Paco Erhard was worth another shot; I figured that if he got rid of the flat spots in that show, he’d wind up with a pretty well-balanced hour of comedy.
What I didn’t realise is that 5-Step Guide was a show that Erhard had already spent a lot of time polishing… and this show – by his own admission – was new. Fresh. Unpolished.
Erhard opens up by explaining the central premise of the show – he’s getting older, he’s falling in love, and he’s starting to find kids cute (in a ticking-paternal-clock kind of way). But there’s little real connection between these feelings and the short jokes & experiential stories that he tells; but he always returns to that core, falling back by imagining whether the previous tale was something he’d want to teach his (future) son.
…and it’s always his son – never any mention of a potential daughter. And I found something about that to be quite grating.
Erhard also espouses liberal values, but the words never really seem to be convincing – especially when he veers into religion. There’s some international-comic observances of Australia, and some swipes at Julia Gillard that seemed to go nowhere; it was almost as if he backed off before his comments could possibly cause offence… or, for that matter, humour. And some of his decisions seemed really odd – he seemed to tiptoe around any kind of profanity, then – apropos of nothing – drops a c-bomb in the middle of an innocuous line… one of the two women in the audience was taken aback and gasped in surprise.
It must be difficult for a comic to perform in front of a quiet crowd of a dozen, but I’ve been to many shows where performers have connected to the crowd in a personal way, leading to a fantastic experience for those in attendance. Erhard failed to do that this evening; there was no attempt to engage with the audience at all as he trotted through his disparate set… it almost felt like a scattergun approach to comedy. And without that engagement, this performance just felt incredibly uninspired.