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April 13, 2011 / Siobhan Argent

Mat Kenneally and the Great Escape (review)


Published 12/4/11 at crikey.com.au

Mat Kenneally is the kind of young gent who will make any young, nerdy, skinny white guy feel like much less of a nerdy, skinny white guy. He’s so much a product of modern times that the only thing he is missing are the hip-yet-dorky glasses.

There’s various reasons for this. Kenneally doesn’t hold a driver’s license, lives in the young white man’s hip-and-gentrified Brunswick, has no muscle definition and hasn’t held a day job for six years. He’s also been upstaged by  radical undergraduates with no sense of humour, and it’s a highlight of Kenneally’s day to sit and watch Mash in a refugee detention centre. Thus a summary of Kenneally’s appeal and the framework of his comedy: be glad you’re not me!

His show, Mat Kenneally and the Great Escape, is not so much of an attempt to break out of anything as an attempt to dance around the political topics that rub up the wrong side of this comedian. It’s probably appropriate to warn you now that it’s a politics-based show, so don’t get too offended if his spiels go against what you think.

Still, it’s all rather safe, middle-of-the-ground comedy. Kenneally has a specific but fairly large audience (anyone who is liberal-minded, i.e. not a Liberal Party member, should be safe) but it’s sometimes a struggle to breach the boundary between talking politics and delivering the punch line. Kenneally also assumes his audience is intelligent enough to laugh at A Current Affair every night, and are informed readers (so if you’re reading Crikey, you’re already there!) But if you really have no idea about the difference between Iraq and Afghanistan, you may nod your head blindly during this segment just to make sure you don’t feel too left out.

Kenneally is not so much the performer who makes you belly-laugh; he’s the comedian who’s read the newspaper enough times to point out all the ill-conceived oddities of our foreign policy, and remind his audience how nerdy he is in the process.

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