Jack Druce’s fifth Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, Running is Good, has a lot of competition for a 10:15pm time slot. Downstairs at the Imperial Hotel is a rowdy sports ball crowd, jeering and cheering various hits and misses. In the room next door is a free live recording of Justin Hamilton’s podcast Can You Take This Photo Please? featuring the legendary and elusive Tony Martin, amongst others.
Yet when he barrels onto the stage, Druce doesn’t seem phased. He explains himself, the premise of the show and shares an experience that occurred when he performed it elsewhere. It’s so gentle that it’s easy to forget Druce is actually performing. There’s no jarring introduction, no quips about needing to buckle your seat belts, Druce just draws you in. His tangential storytelling style is soft and deliberate, but he isn’t thrown by interruptions or distractions. It’s a sign of his experience and talent that his way of dealing with these is both quick and humorous.
Running is Good is, unsurprisingly, about running. He’s not trying to convince you to start or anything, he just wants to share his experiences, and unpick why it is that he runs. It’s genuinely thought provoking when Druce delves into the reasons why we do things we love, and the varying amounts of importance we place on them. The whole show feels like the best of late night tipsy conversations with friends, and in between the smiles caused by the set ups and the laughter at the punch lines, you find yourself glad to be there. Depending on your own personal experience, you may even find yourself thinking “yes! You put it so simply, that’s how it is!” It’s the mark of a capable writer and a relatable performer, both of which Druce is.
The show does feel a little awkward at points, and is hard to pinpoint exactly why. The echo chamber that is the right hand room at the Imperial seems to stifle the laughs, not reverberate them, and the crowd is unfortunately small. Druce is used to performing at 6pm, and perhaps that’s a more appropriate time, if only so he can attract more walk ins. There’s certainly nothing too rowdy or “late night” about Running is Good. In fact, it’s hard to imagine anyone genuinely disliking Druce, his polite persona and high cheek bones make you want to hide your giggles behind your hand like a little school girl. As you step out onto the street and look up at the city lights, it’s hard not to feel a sense of positive affirmation.
Running Is Good is on at the Imperial Hotel from March 26th until April 5th. Tickets are available online and at the door.