Review by Cody Fowler
As Brett Blake emerges atop a comically small off-road motorcycle for his return Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, ‘Go Hard or Go Home’, it’s easy to anticipate the full-throttle barrage of Bundaberg rum-fuelled anecdotes and mulleted adventures coming your way over the next hour. What you might not expect is the relevance of and thought behind his many takedowns of the more peculiar corners of modern Australian society. From inner-city cocktail drinkers to the hippies of Byron Bay, Brett Blake leaves nobody unaccountable for their actions and life decisions. Coupled with his larrikin attitude and genuinely rapid wit, Blake delivers a truly side-splitting experience, well worthy of anyone’s time.
Blake’s preferred method of communicating his humour is through his own cleverly recounted stories. Through his highly blue-collar life experience, Blake has acquired a resource of hundreds of hilarious situations in which he has found himself in. With that in mind, ‘Go Hard or Go Home’ plays out much like a one-sided conversation in a suburban pub with a particularly talkative stranger. This is not to say, however, that Blake does not engage with the room, or that his comedy is overbearing; it is more accurate to suggest that Blake’s stylistic choice to throw story after story at the audience can be wholly felt. The intense pace at which Blake delivers his material means that the viewer hardly has time to react to one joke before they are hit with another. Blake’s Rhys Nicholson-esque ability so subtly slip multiple jokes into a single moment makes for periods of genuine ‘compounded laughter’. An absolute treat.
Brett Blake’s timing and delivery are clearly on the money, but what about his material? Thankfully, Blake also comes through with a series of relatable and all-too-accurate observations on life as a self-proclaimed “suburb rat” attempting to integrate into Australia’s inner-city culture. Blake frequently demonstrates is down-to-earth character through his storytelling. As outlandish and varied as his anecdotes are, they consistently feel like situations you may find yourself in, or that you may have experienced once already. In addition, Blake’s perspective on and responses to the world around him maintain an authenticity which enhances his ability to engage the audience. Whether it’s an eye-roll at an affluent city slicker turned Byron Bay neo-hippie or the feeling of utter helplessness when confronted by a list of 100+ varieties of gin at a hidden bar in the inner city, Blake is able to cut straight to the heart of how we really feel about the certain aspects of our modern society, reminding us that it’s all a bit ridiculous and we probably shouldn’t be taking ourselves that seriously anyway.
Brett Blake’s honest character and wonderful comedic ability combine to create a fantastically consistent and outrageously high-energy performance. ‘Go Hard or Go Home’ is a rollercoaster from beginning to end, and for those looking for an evening of full-throttle comedic action, it’s a show that would be hard to miss.