Stand up comedian Nick Capper has been in Melbourne since last year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Since moving down, he’s been a curly haired fixture of local week night comedy rooms, and now he’s presenting the show he was secretly working on all along. Capper tells the story (kind of) of a man forced out of comedy by tragedy, only to have fellow comedian/C.I.A. agent Xander Allen convince him to come back for one last important mission. It’s more of a ridiculous framing device than a fully formed narrative, but it serves as a nice over the top contrast to Capper’s droll stage presence.
The fifty five minute show is roughly thirty five minutes of straight stand up and twenty minutes of sketch based on the premise. The sketches use a series of inverted tropes to pull roars of laughter from the audience. Allen is a wonderful counterpoint to Capper, managing to be both enthusiastic, manipulative and lazy all at once. There are sound effects and dazzling lights, props and costumes.
Capper’s stand up is somewhat generic, though highly enjoyable. His dopey character and tales of incompetence are relatable and endearing. He mentions that he is often told by other comics that he seems like he doesn’t know what he is doing, as a compliment and as though it is an act. It’s a compliment that rings true. Capper does seem awkward and childlike onstage, but comes across as a humorous affectation rather than sheer bad planning. There are, however, moments when Capper seems genuinely uncomfortable onstage, and the audience have to work to laugh through it. He makes a few too many callbacks and fumbles through his delivery of a couple of set ups. Ultimately though, the audience are on Capper’s side and he recovers quickly.
The sketch aspects are the stronger elements of Capper comedically, but it is difficult to tell if they’d land without the stand up to ground the whole endeavour. This is particularly true at the show’s climax, which features a guest appearance. It’s outlandish, borderline foolish, but Capper lands it like a helicopter.
Capper is on at the Portland Hotel on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 10:45pm from March 26th until April 19th. Tickets range between $15 and $20 and are available online and at the door.