Nothing is sacred in Amos Gill’s 2019 Fringe Festival offering, Almost Famous at the Rhino Room, especially if you went to a Catholic school. The hook for this hour of irreverent comedy is his ten year Catholic high school reunion and Amos Gill’s own frailties as well as everyone else’s foibles are on show. He doesn’t hold back – nothing is off limits – and almost nothing is PC. Everyone gets a serve, especially his parents.
Gill even catches himself sermonising, and stops mid-stream with, “Is this TED Talks, or have you come here for comedy?”
Comedy is what the almost full house came to hear from this “almost famous” Adelaide boy on opening night. Until recently, the rising star of the Australian comedy circuit, Amos Gill has now performed at the Sydney Opera House, The Adelaide Entertainment Centre, the ABC’s Oxfam Gala and currently resides in the US where he is also making an impact.
It’s easy to see why his star is rising. He’s good. Amos Gill has got an easy audience banter, there’s a bit of old school larrikin mixed in with ethno angst (his Croatian background gets a good working over), great timing, and he weaves in a really effective story line.
At one time he tells the audience that he was the kid at school who had a blazer full of badges including Football Captain and Theatre Captain. The joke is that he didn’t have any friends because these two domains theoretically shouldn’t mix, but what he does with ease is to blend football locker room bawdy humour into a one hour performance that has some really good theatrical skills.
This isn’t just a babble of random jokes, Gill’s training has enabled him to weave a story line with tension and the most surprising resolutions, some that you really don’t see coming.
But what you don’t see coming is Gill’s willingness to go places you wish he didn’t. You catch yourself saying, “surely he is not going to go there”, but he does. It could be really “cringeworthy” if it wasn’t for his very disarming and cheeky manner. And it’s funny. You find yourself laughing out loud and then catch yourself thinking, “should I really be laughing at this?”
As well as his Catholic school upbringing and personal angst, Gill gives his audience an insight into the world of Breakfast Radio (in another life he was a host of Hit107), life on the entertainment circuit in the US, and the unfortunate mix of parents and social media.
The show does come with a content and language warning, so if you are easily offended, perhaps this show is not for you.
But to get back to Amos Gill’s Theatre Captain days, there is a good reason why Ancient Greek Theatre valued comedy as much as tragedy. Making people laugh and making them think should sit side by side in a well-crafted performance, and Amos Gill certainly does that.
Fringe Review By Robert Becker