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Tommy Little: Good Talk (MICF)

6 April 2017 | 4:31 pm | Maxim Boon

"An entertaining show with a broad, welcoming appeal."

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It is impossible to dislike Tommy Little. With boy-next-door good looks, an uber-easy, ultra-friendly demeanour and an almost wanton excess of charisma, the man is so indestructibly likeable, it's almost as if scientists made him in a lab.

So, spending an evening listening to old mate Tommy spinning a few cheeky yarns is hardly arduous. But it's not especially remarkable either.

Not that comedy needs to push the boundaries to be considered a success, but Little's gags often err on the generic side. There's no denying that it's a well put together hour of stand-up, delivered with the kind of high-gloss polish and confidence you'd expect from someone whose career is spread between live performance and television presenting. In fact, I'd be prepared to bet that in the hands of someone less endearing and upbeat, much of this shtick could well fall flat.

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In that respect, full credit must be paid to this comedian. Little is a consummate showman, and his expert handling of some very funny crowd patter speaks to the hard yards he's put into honing his craft, bringing much of his onscreen appeal to bear on stage. There is, however, a somewhat hackneyed quality to the humour, and a few nigglingly ill-fitting punchlines that feel too off brand to be authentic.

Like so many comedians before him, Little sacrifices his own dignity on the altar of stand-up, lampooning his various inadequacies for our amusement. The principle target in this shooting gallery of self-deprecation is Little's sexual prowess - another oh so familiar trope of classic stand-up.

Of course, the three 'S's — the shocking, the scatological, and the sexual —  are tried and true stand-up staples, so in principle, there's no shame in turning to this type of material. But the bumbling sexcapades Little regales his audience with - especially one incident which earned him the nickname "Head To Bed Tommy" - seem unlikely from someone so affable and engaging, lacking the social awkwardness or insecurity we usually associate with these kinds of wisecracks. Little has more than enough skill to make sure all his punchlines land, but great comedy comes from truth, and there are moments when it feels as if he' is reciting the jokes of another comic.

If you can look past these incongruities, this is an entertaining show with a broad, welcoming appeal, but those hoping for something innovative or edgy should probably look elsewhere.

Tommy Little presents Good Talk till 23 Apr at the Forum Theatre, part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.