On Saturday, in the Garden of Unearthly Delights, Tom Gleeson performed a sharp show on a tough evening. It’s a testament to his talent that he was able to right a rattled crowd, and even pull off some ambitious jokes in the process.

Tom Gleeson is at once a quick political wit and an honest, blokey everyman. His material is dextrous, witty and frank. And he started exceptionally well, quickly charming the audience by appealing to their Adelaide pride, and then moved right into some firm political commentary, leveraging his early-won audience brownie points to have them on-side for material about renewable energy.

He commented incisively on technology, managing to praise Uber drivers while simultaneously damning the very phones that summon them. And his insight into his personal relationships, especially with his wife and his 4-year-old daughter, was open in a way that comedians don’t often manage. At the end of the show, he even made a point of his honesty, challenging the audience to try to pick any bits of his stories that were made up.

As the night rolled on, however, some of his jokes fell a bit flat, and he was forced to linger on a few punchlines, sometimes repeating them with different inflections until he got the desired reaction — which began to grate a bit. But this was no doubt owed, in part, to the power failure that delayed his show by half an hour; to the fact that the venue was packed with more people than seats; and to the audience members that were always going to be more pickled drunk than tickled pink. It was also one of the first nights of a new show, and no doubt he’ll settle into the material more as the week continues.

It wasn’t the best I’ve seen him. But it was always going to be a difficult gig, and I had a solid night out. In my book, that makes his show a resolute three and a half stars.


For show times and to book tickets, see the Fringe guide.