Reviews //

A nice talented prick

Kristi Cheng saw James Colley’s latest stand-up show.

The quality of Idealist Prick was as to be expected from someone who is a Young Walkley Nominated satirist, creator of SBS’s The Backburner and involved in the production of The Weekly and Gruen. James Colley set the tone of the show by expressing his amazement that there was a room full of people who would pay to watch a white guy express his opinion, when they could just go online. I knew the show was going to be fun, but there would be serious messages and lessons along the way. Colley was very aware of his identity as a white male, and his self-deprecating humour reflected the progressive politics expressed in the show.

Idealist Prick was a balance between digs at specific politicians and digs at general attitudes of people today. In the short one hour, we covered topics from white privilege to feminism, to Mark Latham, to mosque protests, and it even touched on why you just shouldn’t climb Uluru.

It was not short on life advice either, which I thought was as good as an inspirational quote from the Internet you could use as a desktop wallpaper. Here is some of his advice now: You can experience problems, or be a hardworking person, and still be the beneficiary for privilege. It’s easier to not be an arsehole than to be an arsehole. There’s something wrong when you hear small children talk about negative gearing.

The show was tightly run and speedily paced, with quick transitions from one piece to another. There were no major lulls in pace or jokes that fell flat. The stories Colley presented were relatable to his young, Gen-Y audience. I particularly enjoyed the segment on the housing crisis (a few words you don’t usually see together in a sentence), which encapsulated his theme of privilege and also the feelings of unjust many young people feel today about the opportunities they feel should be theirs.

The only qualm I had was that, at times, I felt Colley toed the line between making meaningful jokes that reflected society’s biases and making all-too-serious commentary. While it was important to not present just mindless comedy, there were times that I found shift to the ‘Serious Message’ tainted what was an otherwise low-pressure laugh. These moments were, however, infrequent, and for the most part his transitions from funny to serious were eased into and nuanced. And while his political comments were not new views by any means, damn, they were wrapped in funny enough packaging that it didn’t need to be.

He brought hearty laughs out of me when more veteran comedians don’t even make me chuckle. He made me laugh at material based on political views that at times did not match mine. Ultimately, it was an enjoyable way to spend an hour and the time went by very quickly.

Special props to the opening MC, who started the show with a dry earnestness that hit the mark and perfectly complemented Colley’s act.