Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at aridhianderson.com.
A millennial's perspective on "wanting it all"
The impenetrable housing market. Rental property woes. The soul-destroying nature of work in advertising. Baby boomers who think they know it all when they scoff at millennials for "wanting it all". A Quarter-Life Crisis in Twenty-Seven Parts is Sydney-based comedian Jack Gow's personal story about his struggles as a twenty-seven year old living in Sydney in 2018.
Jack Gow - A Quarter-Life Crisis in Twenty-Seven Parts. Photo from the Melbourne Fringe event page.
Jack Gow is a serious comedian. His comedy is political, it is heavy, and it is based in facts and true stories, no names changed. It is also very personal, and is a telling reflection both of his experiences and of his personality. "The personal is political", he reminds his audience several times during the show. Early on in the evening, he makes a self-deprecating joke about being "a little bit pretentious", later on in the show he jokes about avoiding conflict calling himself a "coward". But it quickly becomes evident that underneath his dignified exterior is a young man disturbed at where the world is going, anguished at his apparent helplessness in the face of it. Gow's stand up show is a means for him to tell a story that matters to him, which, by the end of the evening, his audience appreciates having shared in with him.
Gow is a wordsmith. Every sentence in his show is carefully crafted, and seems well suited for reading, perhaps even more so than hearing performed in person. You can almost picture yourself sitting in a lounge chair with a cup of tea on a rainy day, chuckling quietly to yourself while you read through his cleverly written manuscript. His refined style, his subject matter, his jokes about the correct use of language, and his references to Romantic and Victorian literature point to a deep interest in, if not a great love for, erudition. There is not a hint of silliness or absurdity in this show.
The weight of Gow's subject matter augments the challenge of making people laugh. He does pull it off for the most part, but the balance of emotion the audience is left with at the end of the show tends towards heaviness rather than lightness. There is a sense of having acquired a new burden rather than having lightened the old through laughter. The very intimate venue (The Dock at the Courthouse Hotel) doesn't necessarily help in this regard - the smallness of the space, the mildly uncomfortable seats, and the closeness to the performer (and other audience members) seem to make the experience all the more intense. However, if you feel Gow's anguish and relate to his struggles as a millennial, you probably won't mind the intensity too much.