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January 26, 2011 / Siobhan Argent

John Moloney: One Hour of Jokes


Published 6/4/09 at www.artshub.com.au

Given that John Moloney: One Hour of Jokes is held at the Swiss House, a bit of European style seemed appropriate for the venue—or maybe not. As Moloney himself says, ‘If you want a short bloke with a lesbian haircut, you’ve come to the right place’. Even though Moloney is a Brit, that doesn’t make him super-classy—in fact, his jokes about the need to fart during sex had most of the audience clutching their stomachs and writhing in laughter. It was certainly an audience that moved, since being in hysterics and sitting still are generally considered mutually exclusive.

Somewhat laconic and understatedly charming, Moloney pokes fun at Germans, who just happened to be sitting in the back row poking fun at him on this particular night. He goes on to hypothesise that the Queen has several different titles because she is working full-time and lining up at the dole office to rort the system. John Moloney: One Hour of Jokes doesn’t suffer from the hyped-up, sometimes alarming energy that other comedians can exhibit: on the contrary, Moloney calmly and drolly reels out the jokes, somehow making his punch lines funnier.

The audience certainly thought so. A mostly adult crowd needed very little prompting when Moloney was effortlessly improvising and sending the crowd into fits of giggles. The reason why Moloney is now considered an old-school comedian is because he performs the kind of comedy that is the hardest to pull off. With few props or lighting techniques to act as distractions, the challenge is on the Brit to prove that John Moloney: One Hour of Jokes can work just as effectively as a more prop-driven show.

You can’t help but admire Moloney’s skill, because his sharp wit has evidently been honed from years on the circuit, rewarded by his recognition as London Comedy Festival’s Best Live Performer over two consecutive years. His musical renditions, accompanied by skill on the guitar and accordion, have the audience literally singing along and giggling in their seats. Moloney’s ‘Ginger’ song, set to the tune of ‘Wild Things’ on guitar, had us thankful we were not of the ginger-haired variety.

In the end, the intimate setting and Moloney’s general affability made John Moloney: One Hour of Jokes seem more like a family-affair with an old friend, rather than a comedy routine where the audience’s responses can make or break careers. Throughout the show it gradually became apparent that we were in the presence of a professional, one who could take any unexpected response by a crowd member and turn it to his advantage with a swift jab of British wit. If you like English charm without all the snobbery, then John Moloney: One Hour of Jokes is waiting for you to hurry up and take your seat.

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