By Regan Baker
Surrounded by old-school gaming machines in the depths of Woolloongabba’s Pincadia Bar and Arcade, Chris Martin presents his latest comedy gold Claw Machine. The appropriately retro setting creates the perfect atmosphere for Martin to retell stories of his often-awkward upbringing that shaped him into the man he is today.
After wandering through the dozens of pinball machines in the upstairs arcade and grabbing a drink from the well-stocked bar, we were ushered into the basement where Martin kicked off with a light-hearted quip about the Anywhere Festival, for which this show is apart of. The cosy locale, while a little off-putting at first, perfectly suited Martin’s delivery style through the intimate storytelling environment it created. And though the crowd was small, their energy quickly filled the room as Martin delivered belly-laughing joke after belly-laughing joke.
Claw Machine has a joke for everyone; whether it be the difficulties that come with giving up smoking, accidentally setting the kitchen on fire, life-threatening junk-food additions, or the overshadowing comic-gold that is - dad jokes. And while self-deprecating humour toys a very thin line between hilarity and awkwardness, Martin walks it with ease and perfectly cracks jokes about himself that are relatable and down-to-earth. Often questioning whether to laugh or say “aww sweetie”, the audience hung on every awkward life- story that created the comedian that Martin is today.
What I loved most about Martin’s humour is that it was varied in its style, pacing and overall delivery. Whether it be a punchy one-liner, a ten-minute long story, or a poignant callback referenced throughout the evening, Martin had it all. While there must have been an underlying structure to the routine, Martin’s ramblings appeared to go off in wayward directions that left the audience not knowing what was coming up next – but it was always a cracker!
Comedians tend to have a habit of over-exaggerating, but Martin’s stories leave us hoping for both truth and fiction. On the one hand, Martin’s experiences make for comedy greatness and suit the direction he has chosen in life, but on the other, you can’t help but feel somewhat sorry for his sometimes lack of street-smarts. Martin’s stage persona leads me to believe every story was true (or at least mostly based on truth), which makes them all the more brilliant.
Presenting comedy to an intimate audience must be daunting when you can literally lock eyes with every member of the crowd, but Martin’s confidence was almost flawless in its execution. While there was no single joke that got a raging wave of laughter, no joke fell flat either and there was never an awkward moment. Martin’s talents are to be commended for holding an audience for an almost hour-long set, which can be difficult for even the most experienced comedians.
So pack your pockets with gold coins, enjoy the show and take in the amazing atmosphere that is Chris Martin: Claw Machine and Pincadia Bar and Arcade!
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.