Stephen Merchant is best known as the tall lanky guy that wrote and directed hilarious TV shows like The Office and An Idiot Abroad with his overbearing partner Ricky Gervais. So his first stand-up show in Australia was always going to be something of test to see just how funny he is on his own.
From the moment he took to the stage, the lesser known of the comedy duo really came out of his shell. The confident, witty Merchant strutted around the stage, putting on sexy poses ‘just for the ladies’ to huge roars of laughter from the audience. However, there’s no doubt that Gervais’s presence was still felt, referring to him as ‘his nibs’ and showing press clippings of him stealing the limelight, including one with a picture of Merchant’s head half cut off during the Golden Globes while Gervais took centre stage.
The main theme for the show, Hello Ladies, is Merchant’s quest for a wife. This has been unsuccessful so far due to a number of factors such as his height, 6’7”, which makes sex rather interesting; being a bit of a geek by wearing a Casio calculator watch and a T-shirt with his parents’ faces on it, and the fact that he looks like he works in IT support.
In fact, his inability to keep up to date with the modern world of dating is hilarious, particularly his question of the use of emoticons in those first crucial text messages; his terrible experiences at picking up at weddings, and his tightness in shelling out for dates (not even paying for popcorn).
Possibly the most standout part of the show was the encore, where Merchant pulled two audience members on stage to perform a school play he wrote in the ‘80s called Choices. Merchant played it in true nervous school kid style, touching on issues like teenage pregnancy, peer pressure and having a gay friend, in a hilariously out-datedness. Watching Merchant solo is a real pleasure and makes you wonder why he hasn’t stepped out of Gervais’s shadows sooner.
Drum (Dec 11, 2012)
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