|Richard Gadd, Monkey See, Monkey Do|
There’s a monkey. And there’s Richard Gadd. And there’s a monkey. And Richard. And a monkey. Richard. Richard running. There’s a monkey and the monkey is chasing Richard and all Richard can do is run and run and run and run and run and run and run and run and…
Monkey See, Monkey Do begins with video of a man-sized monkey chasing Richard Gadd through the streets. When Richard appears on stage, he’s still running and he jumps onto a treadmill and that’s where he stays for the rest of the show.
This is a hard show. It’s a hard show to watch. It’s a hard show to review. It’s hard to talk about without giving too much away, but I want to talk about it because its subject matter needs to be talked about. Richard has created a show to deal with his demons, but its power – as a show – is in keeping its secrets. But he wants you to open up.
Richard is blisteringly honest about his experiences over the past several years. Early in the show, we see quotes from a raft of reviews from his previous Waiting for Gaddot. It seems his kind of humour is an acquired taste; the one-star review calls him unfunny and the five-star review is effusive in its praise.
These reviews are often fixated on Richard’s frank views on sex and his own anatomy and I was worried about what I’d gotten myself into. Was he being upfront about his controversial style to excuse what came next? No, in a way, it’s to prepare the audience. To warn them. And to ease them into what comes next.
That Richard runs on a treadmill through ninety-percent of the show is unnerving. His physicality is exhausting, while we take in uncomfortable observations about masculinity and his fixation with how manly he is. Or how manly he seems.
Richard apologises for his show being part of a Comedy Festival – and he’s almost got a point. Except, humour is a great way to broach uncomfortable topics and the subject matter of Monkey See, Monkey Do is one of the more uncomfortable topics imaginable.
Richard Gadd is a smart guy and fit. He’s complicated and hilarious, just like his show. It’s not gut-bustingly hilarious; it’s a gut punch. Sometimes, you run from the monkey. And other times, you gotta run toward it.
Richard Gadd is running all month at ACMI until April 23. I recommend you catch him, if you can.