After a smash-hit 2022 run, Cameron James is bringing back his Electric Dreams for one night only at Sydney Comedy Festival. It hits the Factory Theatre on Saturday, May 6 at 9.15pm. Snap up your tickets over here and read on for our four-star review:
We zoom in on a finger skateboard, and then pan down to Shrek’s big throbbing dick. Switch to a photo of an intensely serious teen Cameron James holding up an iPod, then glide to the Jackass boys. Microsoft Word Art ripples across the screen, over Nelly albums, Matrix DVDs, Napster screens and scanned Kodaks. Rage Against the Machine is playing. The Oogachacka Baby dances.
The show hasn’t even begun and we’re already roiling in sweaty waves of noughties
nostalgia. In the audience, the glands of all the millennials opened up to release the stank of long-gone youth. This mood-setting PowerPoint, and the show to follow, is Cameron James’ hilarious, humiliation-rich tribute to those mid-teen years, and to the young, earnest cringe-lord and Battle of the Bands champion he was.
Back then, see, all he ever wanted to be is a rockstar. Just like his hero, Daniel Johns, lead
singer of Silverchair and a Newcastlian like him. He’d built his whole identity around making
it through music. But then something happened (something pretty graphic and relating to
Fight Club), and he was forced to abandon that dream for good. Decades later, after discovering his old spiral-bound song books during a visit home, James is picking up his guitar and paying honour to the singer-songwriter he was.
What follows is exactly the kind of material you’d expect a super horny teenage boy who listens to Jeff Buckley to write. Only so much worse. And so, so much better.
Using just enough foot pedal for him to claim it back on tax, we hear songs from his Nu
Prophecy period, from the short-lived Love Potion No. 69, and his final high school band
Electric Dreams. Songs written after he lost his virginity, inspired by the Matrix and with the
unforgettable line: “every king needs their queen/or another king if that’s his thing”.
Collectively, we howled. Squirmed. Were pinned to our chairs with gleeful horror. When he
tells the story of his first (yet not final) encounter with Daniel Johns, the man and legend, we hit the floor.
James is one of those comedians who laughs a lot during his own set, and with such an
infectious, good-humoured affability you are right there with him, following happily wherever he leads in his digressions and self-deprecations. As self-aware now as his teenage self wasn’t then, he’s a man mortified yet indebted to the kid who dreamed big.
Maybe in a parallel universe he’s a rock god, but as a stand-up, James is equally natural up there on stage – an easygoing, slightly goofy paragon of the good-humoured bloke who’s made peace with where he’s at in life.
So, yes, Cameron James: big recommend, much good-hearted fun, go see him. If you miss him at Sydney Comedy Festival, you can listen in on him life-coaching with Becky Lucas on their co-hosted podcast The Becky and Cam Hotline every week.
This show was reviewed at Sydney Comedy Festival 2022.