Gordon Southern – Long Story Short
Gordon Southern @ Rhino Room – Howling Owl
8:45pm, Tue 10 Feb 2015
It’s always a delight to turn up to a line-up or ensemble show to see Gordon Southern’s name on the list of performers; he’s always proven to be a ridiculously effective comedian, guaranteed to get a room roaring with gut-laughter within the confines of a ten-minute spot. But I was unsure as to whether he could maintain the mirth over a full set… but an early start to his season at the Rhino Room gave me the opportunity to find out.
Of course, the first performance of a new show is rarely the best time to evaluate such things.
Southern’s style is rapid-fire and occasionally pun-heavy, with the speed of delivery allowing potentially dubious material to pass by before secondary responses kick in; his northern suburb references would feel hackneyed if the delivery wasn’t so enthusiastic. But the bulk of his material revolves around his father, who suffers from vascular dementia – and, with my own father fading, and a mother who is beset with dementia, that material has a poignancy to it. But when Southern uses that thread to go other places – like a Costco ramble that is equal parts praising, damning, and fat-shaming – it’s pretty clear which parts of his script have had the longest gestation.
Long Story Short is clearly not fully-baked, yet. Southern is constantly referring to his notes, there’s a big sagging lull in the middle of the show from which he has to work hard to extricate himself, and his tech was still learning the “Fun Fact” and rap cues.
But Southern’s saving grave is the unflappable enthusiasm that he brings to the stage. That, combined with an audience of long-time fans (including Con the taxi-driver in the front row) who lap up every word, covers over a wealth of cracks in his material. And I have little doubt that, over time, the flatter parts of this show will be weeded out, leaving a more taut experience… but we’ll likely never see that in Adelaide. What I saw this evening was uneven and patchy; but it was also touching and funny.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) February 11, 2015