Chris Turner: Pretty Fly
Chris Turner @ Royal Croquet Club – Shanty Town
7:30pm, Fri 7 Mar 2014
I’ve no idea who Chris Turner is, but his cherubic face peering out from his posters is a curious contrast to the “Pretty Fly” show title. Tomás Ford’s name attached as presenter is the sealer: I’ve got massive faith in that man.
That’s why I decided to turn up on this Friday night. As for the rest of the nearly-sold-out show? I’ve no idea, but I suspect it may have been a combination of (a) alcohol, (2) the ‘Croquet Club being the boozy trashy hangout du jour, and (iii) more alcohol. Still, an inebriated crowd is sometimes a willing crowd for a comedian, so – as I took my place in the middle of the second row, between two cheery men whose gym routines crushed what little space my seat afforded – I hoped for the best.
And whilst I didn’t get The Best per se, what I did get was pretty bloody entertaining.
Turner is every bit the weedy, unimposing physical specimen suggested by his poster… but there’s a confidence, a swagger, to his stage presence that is at odds with his appearance. His voice carries a certain command, too, as he ably deflects hecklers before they get too rowdy.
Turner opens by taking the piss out of his own appearance, before launching into treatise about his love of gangsta rap. He tinkers with the ludicrous nature of his admission – that a weedy white guy could be obsessed by bling, misogyny, and violence – before juxtaposing the culture around the music with his own relationships: the love and conflict experienced with his parents and girlfriend feature heavily alongside sample lyrics. It’s a neat central narrative thread that really holds the show together.
Turner’s style is very much of the hit-and-run one-liner variety: a short build-up before a witty punchline, with the subject of the build-up often left for dead. But there’s enough continuity that the show doesn’t feel like a disparate collection of gags… I felt like the show was a tumbling evolution, and the occasional callback (the Roman numeral jokes were fantastic) never felt forced.
But the pièce de résistance was Turner’s closer – a freestyle rap using a handful of audience-selected words; not only was it a great bit of free-styling, but it also gelled the audience together: after the inclusion of every key word, a big cheer would go up, and the grins were evident. Sure, it may not have been as good as the one at the end of this video, but it was pretty bloody good (even if he did forget one of the words, requiring a check-in with the crowd).
I had a lot of fun with Pretty Fly: rap isn’t anywhere near my favourite musical genres, but when the most un-rap-looking guy ever is talking about it – and talking about it with deft humour – I’m all ears.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 7, 2014