Some Funny C*nt from New York
Matt Romot @ PJ O’Brien’s Balcony
5:00pm, Fri 14 Mar 2014
I’d never seen a Fringe show in PJ O’Brien’s (apart from a show in the 1998 Fringe when the venue was called “Racketeers”); the type of shows that seemed to settle into that venue always appeared to be… well, not my cup of tea. But a chap who ostentatiously names his show Some Funny C*nt from New York? And promises anti-conservative, anti-bogan humour? And has a friendly 5pm timeslot? This I had to see.
Arriving atop the stairs in PJ O’Brien’s, Matt Romot appears to be a very quiet, almost shy, character; he was almost apologetic as he performed his own ticketing duties. There’s only about a dozen people present, but there’s a couple of older women who are clearly enjoying the combination of a warm muggy afternoon and cold alcoholic beverages. We have a bit of a chat, and then Fee turns up; she’s a ton of fun at the worst of times, but she’s decompressing during a day off and positively buzzing as a result: we have a great catch-up before Romot awkwardly does his own sound tech and stammers into the start of his show.
A small audience must be daunting for a comedian at the best of times, but we’d somehow managed to arrange ourselves in just about the most awkward arrangement possible, lining the edge of the balcony. Upon remarking that it was difficult to play to such a crowd, one group moved to the seats directly in front of the stage… whereupon Romot realised that the group was two parents and their teenage son. He pulled up short – “You know this show’s going to have some rude words, right? I mean, it’s in the title…” – but, on the back of the laughs that followed, he appeared much more comfortable.
Romot’s delivery has a hint of nervousness about it, as he jumps from one thread to another in an almost skittish manner. And, despite the promise of “weird stories and ideas” promised by his précis, Romot’s material was relatively conventional. Sure, there were tales of drug abuse and related hijinks, and a few forays into left-wing political ideology, but for the most part it was material that could have been presented by any number of left-leaning comedians.
Except, of course, for the undoubted highlight of his set: a lengthy piece on paedophilia that skirts the boundary of social acceptability before Romot throws midgets into the mix for a brilliant climax. It’s a beautifully constructed joke, and demonstrates that Romot is more than capable of delivering quality material; but this short set only showed glimpses of that ability. I’d have no qualms seeing Matt Romot perform again as part of a lineup show; another full show of his own would be a big ask, however.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 14, 2014