Opening with a self-confessed “sexually aggressive” act towards a man in the front row is a brave way to start your show, but Australian comedian Rhys Nicholson does just that – and has the charm and wit to get away with it.
Steadily building his own stage persona in a velvet dinner jacket, bow tie and pair of lensless glasses, Rhys introduces us early on to the show’s concept by way of an inflatable llama. Humans, he believes, are broken down into two categories: guard llamas and sheep (“sheeple”). Those who protect, and those who need protecting. The show is essentially Rhys exploring this theory of responsibility and trying to find out where he fits in.
Playing up to any camp stereotypes that might follow him about, Nicholson warns us of the numerous penis jokes dotted throughout the set. In fact he’s good enough to keep count of them for us. But that’s not to say Eurgh is just an hour of crude jokes, images of stained showers and drug abuse (although much of the material does make you want to make the noise described in the title).
No, Nicholson has far more up his velvet sleeves. He muses on what it is to be in love, and on the topic of protection – which inevitably leads him on to faith, or as he puts it, protection from death. He tells us of an encounter with a fundamentalist who counter-flyered him at a festival in Australia and told him to renounce his sexuality. That’s an unimaginably horrible thing to have to deal with, but rather than dwell on it, Nicholson set about sending a certain infamous hate-filled minority group in America a series of pornographic images on Twitter. You can’t blame him.
But Nicholson, who frequently refers to himself as “Mama”, also talks earnestly of his love for his boyfriend – and recites one episode where, following an ill-judged trip on horse tranquilisers, he has a romantic epiphany with what turns out to be, well, a rug. The llama theory comes neatly back, too, as the protectee becomes a protector, and the ending is something truly worth waiting for.
For a young comic this is a bold set, filled with a mixture of emotions. At times it’s funny and bizarre; elsewhere it’s strangely moving and poignant, and it’s all, of course, punctuated with penis jokes. Certainly an act to keep an eye on.