Tommy Little: I'll See Myself Out
Time Out says
Australia's proudest dickhead is back doing what he does best
Who is Tommy Little? That’s a tricky question to answer. On The Project he’s a cheeky prime-time rib-tickler, offering wholesome salt-of-the-earth comic relief. On his radio show Carrie & Tommy, he’s the consummate on-air quip-master, risque but on just the right side of the gutter. Meanwhile on stage, he’s a no-holds-barred banter bazooka; proudly and unashamedly a self-proclaimed ‘fuckhead’ with a pocket full of C-bombs and felatio jokes. He’s also something of an unlikely sex symbol, drawing fans as much for his looks as his stand-up, if the thirsty as hell crowd at the Enmore Theatre during the Sydney Comedy Festival run of his latest hour-long set was anything to go by.
But if you take a minute to peer a little deeper, you’ll find there’s more to this chameleon comic than just ladish fuck-upery and blue humour. Little has been plying his comedy trade for more than a decade, and while he may play the fool extremely well, he is in fact a seasoned virtuoso of the one-hour format. Classic stand-up – one man, one mic – is not an easy art form to draw out for 60 minutes. Most comics cut their teeth delivering a tight-five in a club setting, so structuring material to have long-form storytelling and theatrical logic is not an easy skill set to come by. Little, however, has the power to keep his yarns spontaneous and springy and his callbacks perfectly placed so that this masterfully structured show feels effortlessly spun from start to finish. His crowd patter is also some of the quickest, most whip smart in the biz. At the performance we attended, one particularly obsessed fan lured Little into a bizarrely intense repartee, but while many comics may have lost their cool with this potential derailment, Little handled it with grace, charm, and a blazingly brilliant amount of wit to get the show back on track without losing any momentum.
In fact, there’s so much intelligence simmering just beneath the surface of his schtick, it’s almost a disappointment that his comedy go-tos are such low-hanging fruit. Despite his lucrative mainstream success and his ascent as a celebrity sexbomb, he continues to peddle the narrative that he’s utterly hapless in romance, that he lives in a student-style share house, and that no human appendage is funnier than a penis. Accessible and everyman as Little may be, it’s hard not to see his on-stage stand-up persona as just another character; a tailored fictionalisation of himself for maximum crowd-pleasing value, but without a whole lot of truth behind it.
Not that this is all that problematic if you're simply hanking for a good night in a safe pair of hands without too much mystery or surprise. If you’re in search of truly creative comedy – and Australia has a clown car full of experimental comics turning out some of the most innovative and original work in the world – this show will leave you wanting more. If, however, you want a solid, self-assured hour of quintessential Aussie stand-up from one of the masters of the form, Little goes a long way.