MICF: Jeff Green, Honestly!
British come Australian Jeff Green has been doing stand-up for over 20 years because, he tells us, he loves it. It shows. From the moment he bounds on stage Green is energetic, enthusiastic and very well-rehearsed. Watching a performer who appears so comfortable and settled immediately puts the audience at ease.
As a young-ish woman with no human kids (cats, I have lots of cats) I’m not Green’s target audience. The average age of the crowd is somewhere around 50 or so, lots of couples, lots of people who have that battle hardened ‘I’ve been responsible for the lives of small people,’ look about them. (I’m making this up, they just seemed like they probably had kids because most married couple of that age do). However I found Green’s humour very relatable because of the universality of human experience. You don’t have to be in a long-term relationship or have children of your own to be able to laugh along at well told stories of the joys and pitfalls of both.
Most of Green’s material is mined from his family life. His two primary school aged sons – Lucifer and Voldemort – provide great fodder, as does his Australian wife. Green tells us he met his wife at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 18 years ago, hence his now having resided in Melbourne for the past 8 years.
Green combines his very British turn of phrase and delivery with a strong awareness of local jokes, prejudices and eccentricities; the result is a charming mix of a British take on Australian humour. The local references were very popular with the crowd. He describes living in St Kilda ‘the discarded underpants capital of the world,’ and makes some ever popular Adelaide jokes, likening it to the on land equivalent of a cruise ship; full of old people and a little dull.
The performance is prefaced by warning to the audience that it is not for the easily offended; or those who don’t like swearing because Green thinks it’s both ‘big and clever.’ This gave me pause, not because of the swearing I love swearing, but because ‘not for the easily offended,’ is often code for ‘horribly sexist.’ Being an ardent feminist I thought I might find myself rolling my eyes at the ‘men are from Mars women are from Venus,’ style of humour my eyeballs stayed largely staring straight ahead for most of the night. I think this was because Green uses men and women as equal fodder. He makes fun of himself as much as he does his wife and the show never felt like one of those misogynistic bore-fests where men moan about how awful women are.
Green manages to combine material that is funny, deeply personal (his wife’s struggles with postnatal depression) and universal. The audience were laughing aloud and nodding along for the entire show.
As I was leaving I heard one man say to his friend ‘I laughed aloud, and I never laugh.’ His wife responded ‘It’s true, he doesn’t.’ You can’t get a much better recommendation than that.