The Factory Theatre, Marrickville
Friday 13 May 2016
“Who’s on stage again?” asked a female two seats down from me.
“Tony Martin,” her plus-one hissed back as the lights went down.
I was, of course, aghast. Who doesn’t know who Tony is, I thought. Was Tony’s show so unpopular that they were giving away front row tickets? Tony Martin, star of the D-Generation’s Late Show, avid writer of hilarious autobiographies, cameo king, drive-time radio star… would this woman even get any of the jokes?
I needn’t have worried. By the end of the night, the woman was in hysterics, along with the rest of the audience, many of whom were wearing the kind of nondescript jeans and shirt combo that Tony popularised in 1992.
Tony — just a man and his microphone — didn’t skip a beat during his performance. Opening his show by quoting some choice coverlines from a mediocre, poorly-researched biography of Michael Douglas, it was all uphill from there. Sure, sometimes he told familiar tales that fans would know from his books and radio shows — the haemachromatosis “iron man” saga, for instance, and his favourite discussion about the dying breed of video stores — but he put his own spin on them and still made them sound fresh and funny, even if we knew what joke was coming. It is, of course, all in the timing and delivery. Tony’s impersonations of dole bludgers and talkback radio whingers was so very, well, Tony.
Tony acknowledged later to me on Twitter that the show went on some tangents at times (audience members threw random quotes at him like “How come?” and “Stacks of Slacks!”), but he handled them perfectly well, just as a seasoned performer would, and it was all good.
One particularly lengthy monologue involved him describing his bowel cancer screening kit which arrived in the mail once he’d turned 50. His colourful description of how it all went wrong, and his musings about who on earth would be involved with unpacking the multiple layers of biohazard packaging in order to analyse the results (which he was unable to get organised in the first place), were absolulely hilarious. So that story did go on a tad long (“and that ends the arse portion of the night”), but there were plenty of other tales of awkwardness, missed opportunities and, thrillingly, some old Late Show references. These included a bit of “New York, New York, it’s wonderful town” dancing, a discussion about Warner Bros Movie World and the pissweak Yahoo Serious attraction, and Tony’s discussion of beige slacks (which at least harks back to the Neil Diamond monologue he did during The Late Show).
The show was soon over — and Tony’s swift exit meant that no one could even get a proper photo of him. But when your audience all leaves with a smile, there’s a realisation that leaving your social media at the door for an hour and immersing yourself in some comedy can be pretty life-affirming!