A Brief History Of History

Kym Clayton, The Barefoot | Posted on February 25th, 2012

Rhino Room – Downstairs. 25 Feb 2012

Gordon Southern has a mischievous glint in his eye – shades of Jimeoin – and he enjoys sizing up his audience to get a sense of whom he is dealing with and to identify a punter (or two) he might coopt willingly or unwillingly into his act.

In A Brief History of History he sets himself the rather silly task of surveying the history of civilisation in about an hour, and he begins by profiling the age of his audience. The oldest turned out to be a spirited 71 year old gent by the name of Drummond, who was sitting near a group of educated young women who were self-confessed Melbournians, much to the derision of the largely parochial audience. The girls took great delight in correcting Southern when he stretched the truth, and Drummond was the point of reference for times past. Poor man.

Like a lot of good humour, Southern’s gags relied on stretching the truth, or drawing ridiculous comparisons, or imputing meaning that is not really there. Some of the gags were ‘dark’, especially when he was covering World War II and joked that an archetypal photograph of Hitler with several of his henchman looked like that of a Nazi boy-band with a name like The Fuhrer’s Four posing for the album cover which featured the hit single The Vinyl Solution! We cringed, but laughed all the same.

The performance seemed a little under-rehearsed, and Southern made free use of a cheat sheet, but the audience couldn’t have cared less.

A feature of Southern’s routine was a music sampler which he used to make musical exclamations to underpin his narrative. He also used…..wait for it……PowerPoint technology (which he thought should nearly blow Drummond’s septuagenarian mind!) to project images of historical events and people about which he would poke merciless fun.

Kym Clayton

When: 28 Feb to 17 Mar
Where: Rhino Room – Downstairs

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