[2013093] No Moral Compass

[2013093] No Moral Compass

Stuart Black @ Austral Hotel – The Bunka

5:45pm, Tue 5 Mar 2013

I like talking to people about the shows they’ve seen at Fringe time; long gone are the days where I’d purchase 95% of my Fringe tickets before the season starts. Nowadays, my scheduling is pretty loose, and I’m usually only buying tickets the day before the show, at the earliest… and that means that, when my Event Buddy spoke highly of No Moral Compass, I happily squeezed it in.

A shame, then, that more people didn’t do the same – there were less than a dozen people in the audience, and there were a bunch of artist comps in that lot. And there was a hint of wearied disappointment in Stuart Black’s eyes when he took to the stage… but that didn’t seem to affect his performance.

His style is relatively gentle: long, ambling stories sprout from the germs of some clever ideas. Black admits to a range of substance abuse, garners a few laughs, then shifts gears to talk about a deceased friend (to whom the show was dedicated). Then, as if determining that the tonal shift was a leap too far, Black focussed on his own depression…

…or, rather, his periods of misanthropic depression. And I start giggling uncontrollably – the flaws that he is using as the basis of his material are all-too-familiar to me, and Black’s insights are pretty sharp… and his not-overly-profane choice of phrasing is endearing. The pièce de résistance, however, is his story involving the services of a Polish prostitute: it’s a hilarious (and occasionally painful) tale that twists and turns before settling in for a glorious denouement. That joke alone is worth every cent of the minuscule ticket price.

I really enjoyed Stuart Black’s performance, and I’m certainly glad I saw him do a full set – I don’t think a tight five- or ten-minutes as part of an ensemble would suit his style. Some curious ideas, some lovely wordplay, and a relatively gentle presentation: what’s not to love?

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