Gordon Southern: The Longest Year
Howling Owl, Tartanya (Adelaide)
Thursday March 3rd, 7:30PM

Gordon Southern performs modern day alchemy, spindling his tortuous covid-induced career interruption into comedy gold. Even in its raw initial stages this thoughtful show is well paced and keeps the audience engrossed throughout. Southern is a first-class performer at an economy price. You could easily spend $50 for another hour of comedy at this festival and not find the same quality offered here for about half that much.

Professionalism is an understatement for Southern. I think it’s possible he has been making people laugh longer than I’ve been able to put pen to paper, and every ounce of that experience is on display once more this season. Southern has been an Adelaide Fringe staple for over a decade and we should be so lucky to have him return for years to come.

Watching live comedy is akin to watching a tightrope act with no safety net. Usually we are constantly anxious if the performance will succeed or end in horrible tragedy. Like any great highwire act, Southern oozes serene confidence. He occasionally dusts off a cobweb here or there after a long, covid-induced travel hiatus (a common theme of this festival so far) but it’s always taken in stride. Southern never really seems in much need of our approval because he knows by the end of the night, he will have it.

Most of The Longest Year is a recount of Southern’s lockdown experience, with Covid a major theme. There is catharsis here for those who might be lingering under the effects of similar ill-feelings. This show endeavours to relieve us of some covid-fatigue with pomp and wit. Southern describes himself aptly as an international word clown. He’s part physicality, part wordplay, delicately dry and provides laughs throughout.

There is even deftly played audience interaction here, but it’s as much crowd control as anything. Certainly that’s not a feature but only because the material does the heavy lifting, so there’s rarely a need for much improvisation with the crowd. Southern’s style, and the venue, are intimate, and he’s not shy about involving an audience member if required.

The only drawback of Southern’s show for Adelaide Fringe attendees is that it is still in infancy. One can’t help but imagine how great this show is going to be by the end of this run. We take solace perhaps in watching a master craftsman at work. Gratefully, you can catch an encore of Southern’s show That Boy Needs Therapy, which has been on the road and back again, at the Mercury this Saturday March 5th and Sunday the 6th, at 4PM.

This show, The Longest Year, continues nightly at The Howling Owl until Saturday March 12th, 7:30PM. Do yourself a favour and see possibly the best value for money comedy act at the Adelaide Fringe 2022.

– Nick Harris

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