From the moment a lumbering, drunken giant of a man stumbled past the front row, heckling Paul about his freshly shaven face, it was abundantly clear that this was going to be one chaotic and raucous ride. Paul’s professionalism as a long-standing comedian within Australia for the last four decades was immediately apparent from his charismatic, unshakeable stage presence, of which he met jeers from this said heckler with ease and nonchalance – been there, done that. This became even more obvious after he offended an elderly lady about her “calcium deficient hands”, to which she politely stood up, and left, while Paul was undeterred. This is all part and parcel for him – its in these moments he is truly in his element, and undeniably hilarious.
Most of Plus One’s content revolves around COVID-19 and the pandemic that plagued most of 2020. Your mileage may vary here, as for many of us this has become a horse so savagely beaten to death over the last 12 months, it’s facial features are unrecognizable. It’s very hard to say anything about the coronavirus at this point that hasn’t been repeated, ad infinitum, and unfortunately I didn’t feel like Paul brought anything too new to this already overcrowded table.
Paul, however, is at his best when he goes off script, like when he sings about our polarizing PM, Scott Morrison. His comments on the recent rape allegations within parliament are devastatingly honest and confronting, and at one point he drops the act completely and makes a grim admission on the state of our nation and its leader that was met with thunderous applause. Its a brutally candid and straight-faced moment from the rarely serious standup, but it hits all the more powerfully because of this.
The best part of the night though comes, surprisingly, when it finishes, and no, I’m not being a smart ass here. After leaving the Rhino Room, Paul urged around 25 faithful punters to continue the show on the streets of Adelaide, in what quickly became an incredibly intimate affair, all of us crowded together out the front of a nearby hotel. It was the equivalent of a post-credits scene at the end of a movie, and a weirdly memorable moment shared between a group of strangers that will stay with me for quite some time.
Name of show: Paul McDermott – Plus One
Venue: Rhino Room
Duration: 60 mins + 20 mins