Rich Hall opened to a sold-out audience – and one rather snugly packed in to the bleacher-style seats in Studio 7 in the Garden of Unearthly Delights. You'll rarely see a guy more comfortable on a stage, and no wonder – Rich Hall has been doing comedy since the 1980s, both as himself and as his country rockstar alter-ego Otis Lee Crenshaw. This seamless hour of comedy absolutely flew by.
He's extremely clever, for a start. His drawling, laconic stage presence belies a very sharp and very quick mind – he writes a few impressively complex songs on the fly about various audience members and their (very specific) professions, and made a few theatrical mishaps (sirens, loud and mysterious knocking on the outside of the venue, and a few deserters in the audience) into some of the funniest parts of the show. He's an absolute professional.
This extends to his subject matter, too – much of the show deals with the differences between Australians and Americans, and he's clearly done his research. No token tourist-y mention of the Mall's Balls – he's got musical puns about Whyalla, for god's sake.
And while he may seem grumpy and recalcitrant, the fact of the matter is that you don't stay in a gruelling profession like live comedy if you don't love it. That simple joy shone through in the dedication, the honesty and the energy of the performance – even if his body language and facial expression suggest an entrenched resentment of the world at large.
It all adds up to pure excellence. Get tickets before he sells out the rest of his run.