19 May 2017, Common Room, Hastings
Being a feminist killjoy, it can be tough to have a laugh. Once you’ve been on the receiving end of a social system that discriminates on the basis of factors outside your control, it becomes hard to poke fun at others under similar criteria.
Cori Gonzalez-Macuer is a comedic veteran of the national and international stage, with the 2006 Billy T Award, and a string of film and television credits under his belt. As such, one of the local amateurs supporting the main act purportedly asked him for advice backstage, on the basis of which he quipped as his opening line, ‘Cori told me to stay away from the cheap laughs- gender, race, sexuality, disability…so…goodnight!’. This would have floated better had he, and the other support acts not clung to these lifebelts like drowning men for the duration of their acts. There’s just something terribly wearying about watching a bunch of old white dudes wring humour out of those who have not had the same happy accident of being born with the arbitrary attributes that our broken society values.
At the same time, it’s easy (and fun) to sit in the front row with a notebook passing judgement. For all their flaws, these guys are putting themselves out there. Even watching their gross out humour and dad jokes fall flat is an arresting reminder of their basic humanity. They are still honing their craft and perhaps will take on Cori’s advice, and a leaf out of his book.
Because there is a way to navigate the waters of political correctness and still find occasion for laughter, and, happily, Cori has charted these. His comedic style might be summed up as, ‘I’m a bit shit, you’re a bit shit, we’re all a bit shit, but better to laugh than cry’. He guides us to the brink of discomfort before turning the tables, with expert timing, to make himself the butt of the joke. But crucially he brings the audience along with him, holding up a mirror to allow us to laugh at ourselves, which is, in my view, the essence of good comedy.
His range, too, marks him as a professional. His ability to wholly embody a character, and flit between personas with subtle gesture and tone are clearly what appealed to Taika Waititi when he cast him in two of his films. Oh, and he sings like a (fallen) angel.
The set ends with a deadly serious appeal for those who may be suffering from mental health issues to seek help. No doubt this stems from his father’s suicide about which he gave a TEDx talk last year. This was a touching moment, a reminder that there is sometimes sadness behind laughter. Its circumstances of delivery made it all the more effective: 11pm down the pub on a Friday night, after Cori’s humour has piqued our sense of common humanity.