Rhys Nicholson – Nice People Nice Things Nice Situations

12 May 2019 | 1:04 pm | Hannah Story

"He’s a man on the edge of a breakdown – and it’s fucking funny."

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Rhys Nicholson might be Australia’s top young comic. Tonight’s show was a major moment in the Novocastrian’s career: selling out Sydney’s Enmore Theatre, where he once worked in the box office, daydreaming about performing stand-up on that main stage.

His backdrop was his face in silhouette, his suit was crisp and tailored, hair perfectly coiffed. There’s a whiff of America’s John Mulaney about him.

Nicholson’s set ran the gamut of jokes about his dog, his relationship with his long-term partner, broadcaster Kyran Wheatley, and his mother, always landing at a point about his own fractured self-perception, confusion about where his life might be heading. 

When he shouted a punchline, almost crouching, mic by his side, the crowd roared with laughter, in the same way they did when he called us out as having definitely been bullied at high school “because you’re at a comedy show”. Bullies don’t go to comedy shows. 

There were moments of delicious crassness, the audience grateful to be given permission to laugh at a simple cum joke, delivered with Nicholson’s signature bustling energy.

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He cleverly closed out the set calling back to his harshest critic, the one who pleaded for him to focus his comedy on the “nice people, nice things, nice situations” of his show title. It worked. There were a number of moments like it throughout the night, Nicholson pulling out a reference with a knowing nod, an elbow dug into the rib of his audience. 

Ultimately Nice People Nice Things Nice Situations is a show about growing up, or trying to. Nicholson is almost 30 now, too old to take drugs with the abandon of his early 20s, too young to have his shit truly sorted, even at the top of his comedy game. He’s a man on the edge of a breakdown – and it’s fucking funny.

Performed as part of Sydney Comedy Festival