Adelaide Fringe

Fringe Review: Tom Gleeson – Gear

Gleeson demonstrates his biting wit, love of revenge served cold and ordinary tales crafted into hilarity: a master performer and fabulous show

Gleeson demonstrates his biting wit, love of revenge served cold and ordinary tales crafted into hilarity: a master performer and fabulous show

Presented by: Token Events

Reviewed: 20 February, 2024

Hard Quiz host, Tom Gleeson, has got some brand new, top notch gear. And by “gear”, I of course mean “stuff”. Stories, jokes, amusing tales of revenge – what did you think I meant? If your mind jumped to any of the possible double entendres available, then this show is for you!

Gleeson is a comedy king, one might almost refer to him as a veteran, but that could result in aspersions about the average age of his TV viewers. This is something Gleeson himself worries about—that the ageing population has a direct correlation to ratings drops brought about by the deaths of people old enough to still watch TV, adverts and all. But if Tuesday’s opening night was anything to go by, there are still masses of Gleeson fans keen to experience his trademark biting wit not just on the telly, but up close and personal.

Gear, explains Gleeson, is a bunch of stories from his life told in the best way possible. About 99 percent of his anecdotes are true, he admits, and it’s his ability to shape the ordinary into hilarity that demonstrates his enormous talent. The other trademark that viewers of Hard Quiz and Taskmaster are well acquainted with is his lightning quick heckles and he was straight out of the starting block with that. It takes true talent to get away with heckling your audience before you’ve even told a joke.

Gleeson hit out at the stance that “you can’t say anything these days” by countering that of course you can say anything, you just need to be prepared to wear the consequences. Announcing his “I’m OK with that” stance, Gleeson went on to cover topics including dodgy opinions, the downside of political correctness, the merits of Volvos versus electric cars and the problem of overly compassionate cops.

My favourite parts of the show involved Gleeson’s love of revenge served cold. Committed to the long game, his tales of justice served for the nasty neighbour who was not as nice as Norma, and the awful host of an American reality TV show, were just glorious. He also regaled with stories of performing at the Edinburgh Fringe 20 years ago and a run-in with a now infamous comedian. If you’re sitting on the fence, I advise going along for this story alone!

Opening night was not without its technical glitches, the main being doors that failed to stay shut. According to Gleeson, this was because he “blew the doors off the place”. Ever the consummate professional, he didn’t allow this to break his flow and, hopefully, the fine Fringe folk will have this sorted before his next show. The Vagabond also has good air-conditioning, most welcome on a hot Adelaide evening.

It really is Gleeson’s years of experience and professionalism that make him a standout performer. His anecdotes were funny, relatable and pushed the boundaries right to the edge of that metaphorical line without actually crossing it. The energy and laughter never faulted over the sixty minute show, and his audience interactions were just beautiful. Be warned: it is a brave heckler who tries their luck with this funny man. While not entirely clean or free from swearing and innuendo, comparatively it’s pretty tame, contains nothing alarming and would be suitable for mid-years teens up to adults.

It’s difficult to review stand-up comedy without giving away those punch lines artists work so hard on; it’s often tempting to just say ‘it was great, go see it.’ So, rather than ruin the experience for future audience members, I’ll leave it at that: great gear, go see it.

Reviewed by Samantha Bond

Venue: The Vagabond, Garden of Unearthly Delights
Season: 21 Feb-16 March
Duration: 60 mins
Tickets: $42-62

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