Smooth intelligent stand-up from an international star
By Narelle Wood
The 2016 Melbourne Comedy Festival show starts with a voice-over recording of a conversation between Hills and Johannsen. It seems a little trite, but it does make the point that Johannsen is a stand-up comic, without the use of gimmicks, toys, music or any other prop you can think of: the type of comedian that is becoming increasingly hard to find.
While Johannsen has had tonnes of success and received some high accolades overseas, this is his first visit to Australia, courtesy of his friendship with Hills. Like Hills, Johannsen’s humour does not rely on nastiness or crude jokes: rather, it is old-school stand-up based on a mixture of observations, timing and story-telling that is laugh-out-loud funny. One of the biggest testaments to Johannsen’s talent was the gracious and humorous way he dealt with the very annoying heckler sitting in the back; the comments were absorbed into the show and then he just got on with it.
The main premise of the show is age, mostly growing older, yet it was not just the more mature of the audience that could relate to the anecdotes; there were some truisms for young and old alike. But the show also covered everything from Ugg Boots and their prolific status on Melbourne streets, to male aggression, children, Twilight and social media. I got the sense that most of the material was pre-prepared yet Johannsen’s style is so natural and conversational that he could be making it up on the spot. Either way it worked and he even managed to weave in a few jokes at Trump’s expense, which although perhaps at an easy target, were still meet with an appreciative snicker.
While the Comedy Festival has lots of home-grown humour, I highly recommend a visit to this international act. It’s clever and clean, and there’s something Kramer-esque about Johannsen that makes it a show well worth seeing.
Venue: Greek Centre, 168 Lonsdale St, Melbourne
Season: 7.15pm Tues to Sat, 6.15pm Sun until 17th April
Tickets: Full $27.50 | Conc $23.50 | Tuesdays $19
Bookings: ticketmaster.com.au or comedyfestival.com.au