Or, very liberal punchlines
Australian internet comedy sensation FriendlyJordies has been touring the nation for the last six months, with a show called “Chin Up, Stooge”.
For the uninitiated, Jordan of FriendlyJordies has built his viral brand through a podcast and YouTube channel. If you’ve heard the name in passing, it’s probably been in reference to his popular Sterosonic satire videos or when your Labour mate on Facebook shares half of the channel’s backlog around election time. Jordan’s style of comedy typically navigates the extremes of surreal humour and relatable social anecdotes. Let’s be clear though, this guy has a clear target audience. If you’re not in your twenties, throbbing for Labour, and going to University, you’ve probably not seen much of this guy.
For the initiated, if you were expecting Yilmaz, you will be disappointed. He didn’t make it past the advertising campaign. This show was really about keeping your chin up, stooge. If you come expecting more skits on Aussie bogans, sure. You’ll be happy. But Jordan is also using this show as an unusual foray into motivational speaking: a show intending its audience to be happy, and stay happy.
The pokey little Backspace stage at the Theatre Royal was an appropriate den for our Aussie troll’s fired-up antics. Looking around the audience, it became a test in spotting the odd one out. If ever there was a demographic that looked suspiciously educated in the University system, this was it. As for the four old guys in the crowd, I’ll continue to pretend they’re mature aged students.
It only took a brief moment for the lanky YouTube sensation to jump straight to impressions and jokes about our mass media, squaring Larry Emdur’s career in his crosshairs. Did you know Tracey Grimshaw runs ACA with lizards out of her backyard? And apparently the ABC operates solely on the spawn of Kerry O’Brien’s loins. Puzzled yet? You should be. The best segue is no segue, and Jordan fired off threadbare satire on one Australian personality after the next. The joy is in the delivery though, with Jordan one of our strongest masters of irreverent humour without reaching into edgelord territory. Still, this isn’t quite ‘fun for the whole family’.
Perhaps I’m just salty, though. The audience wasn’t even safe, which is the mark of a great comedy show. We want to squirm. But he crossed a line by saying, “If there was a God, Kanye West would have gotten leprosy by now”. I’ll happily hold my strange discomfort at the roaring applause by any joke regarding the Liberal party where the punchline is their very existence, but let’s not bring the big boy down with Malcolm Turnbull. And then 50 Cent. And THEN Soulja Boy. I’m left thinking if my best avenue to self help is to question my taste in music.
Despite Jordan having barely half the square jawed radiance of Tony Robbins, all these punchy jabs at our most well known entertainers were sandwiched between tips for the ‘being the best you’. Coming to this show knowing it would be a platform for this new direction from Jordan, I couldn’t help but be anxious. I would have previously considered self help books and seminars to be wishful thinking for the mediocre divorced dad in his 30s. Clearly aware of the stigma, Jordan shook the audience’s safe cynicism by addressing the audience with the fact that nobody cares about your clinical depression. In the next breath, he’s telling the audience to fix their posture and smile more. If he doesn’t get his forced smile, he’s not moving on. The beauty is in the execution, delivering hard truths interspersed with jokes.
If you didn’t leave his show uncomfortable, but with the challenging resolve to want better for yourself, did you even go at all? Probably not, or you wouldn’t have read this far.