Amos Gill: Kept his audience onside through a minefield of hot-button topics.
AMOS GILL – THE SHEEPLE’S CHAMPION **** Swiss Club until Sunday 18 April
Anyone in need of nailing a definition of “fashionable cynicism” need only watch Amos Gill’s slick new show The Sheeple’s Champion, for by show’s end they’ll be in no doubt that whatever fashionable cynicism is, it ain’t this.
He’s cynical, alright, but there’s nothing fashionable about his manner. When he gets angry, he’s not just doing it for comic effect. The dude means it.
Amos Gill, easily one of the most skilled, confident and content-rich stand-ups on the Festival circuit, might sound like a Prophet of Doom.
As far as Gill is concerned, however, Doom is here already and we’re surrounded by the signs. It’s End of Days for him, so what choice do we have but to laugh at it?
And there is lots and lots of laughter in the show, especially in the first half as Gill riffs on about Covid, his experiences with pornography, bad investments, climate change and those dastardly Boomers (the target of choice for Millennial comics at this year’s festival, it seems).
The sell-out crowd packed into the 154-seat Swiss Room roared at every jibe, jab and swipe as Gill glided through his set.
There were stretches when the audience fell quiet as Gill would explain his position on the public discourse, about his disdain for extreme views, polarized debate, our political leaders and hollow gestures about important matters such as racism, equality and love.
The show is a prime example of a comedian embedding a host of salient points about life as we know in a whirl of jokes and anecdotes that range from genuinely witty to downright vulgar.
However serious, dark and grave the topic Gill’s always taking it somewhere funny, and never once in an extra-long 70-minute set did he lose the audience, thanks to wrapping the thorny mace of his themes in the bubble-wrap of laughter.
Most admirable is Gill’s willingness to push back on WokeThink and expound honestly on a vibrant menu of live-wire subjects.
His anecdote about how he disengaged, mid-protest, from a Black Lives Matter rally is as admirable and thought-provoking as it is funny. So, too, his thoughts about “Welcome to Country” rituals, which might just be the most marvellously contentious thing uttered by any act at the festival.
What comes through like a tsunami crashing into a beachhouse is his deep resentment of the hypocrisy of pretending to care about something so long as it is convenient; amidst all the laughter he generates from these dark themes, he appears to feel it down to the bone.
An ardent enemy of Cancel Culture, Gill speaks out about the controversy over Chris Lilley, a creative talent he admires enormously and openly defends as having been mistreated.
His avalanche of observations all flow naturally and with the affable cynicism of somebody who sees that the end is nigh, but advises to go with it rather than fight it. We’re going to Hell in a hand basket, so enjoy the ride.
If the show has a creed it’s Glory in Defeatism, to resign to the fact that empires fall through the type of moral and political complacency Gill excels at detailing and satirizing.
A lot of comedians joke about politicians, but it’d be hard to find one who actively dislikes them as much as Gill apparently does.
Gill does show a predilection for vulgarity, yet he is still somehow able to use scatological humour and make it simultaneously disgusting and warm.
Now 30, this show bodes bright for his next take on the world and the many, many fault- lines he finds both fatal and funny.