Woke… ish – Blaise White
The Gov, Kuarna Yerta – Thursday February 24th, 9:30PM.

Blaise White makes the most of his time on stage. No matter what, he will try to find some way to make the evening fun. When we saw him on Thursday night at the Gov, to the best of my knowledge, no one in attendance had actually paid for their ticket to the show. That was certainly the inference when we arrived at 9:15 for what was billed as a 9:30pm start, only to find the show was already underway. Appreciated it is a challenge to keep things too strict when you are looking at zero ticket sales for a night, and credit to White that he pulled a crowd together and tried to make the best of it. At $0 per head, most would have walked away feeling they got value for money.

White is aiming for what is probably an interesting angle, to skewer both the woke and unwoke alike, hence the title Woke… ish. Disappointingly there was little material on display for most of the evening, as White tried to bring the show to life through crowd work. While a noble effort, White perhaps made things tougher on himself than they needed to be by relying heavily on the participation (and intoxication) of the crowd. Those who were up for a bit of audience participation certainly enjoyed themselves, in fact they basically carried the evening, and credit to White for orchestrating. But for those who prefer to appreciate the material without being an active participant, there was little on offer here. And sadly, what we did witness, was sorely lacking in polish.

White is getting back on the road it seems, after some time off, so naturally he would be rusty. Concerningly, here it seems the rust may have severely compromised the structure of the act itself, as much of the material we did get to see was laboured and lacked any real bite. White is dabbling in political humour here and there but without much incisiveness and is almost exclusively framing his jokes from his subjective experience. It means he is undertaking perhaps the most challenging content with the most prevalent style on the comedy scene. Neither the jokes nor the delivery was at their apex tonight, and hopefully this is more a reflection of his lack of form than anything else. Indeed the delivery was at times abrasive, which might appeal in a loud crowded club, but in our intimate setting it felt over the top.

If I had seen this act at an open mic night, or as a 15 minute closer a variety show, I think it could have felt punchy. At an hour, or even the 40 or so minutes we were present for, it felt thin. Transition to a solo-show act from an open mic is a big challenge for a comedian, and with Melbourne International Comedy and Edinburgh on the horizon, White will soon have his mettle tested in this regard. He bills himself as a ten-year veteran of stand-up comedy, but besides the acceptable if overworked crowd interactions, little of this experience shone through at our showing.

Hopefully White has a great year on stage and perhaps if he returns here in 2023, we might see the best of him then.

– Nick Harris

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