Softbelly Bar must be an unenviable venue for a guy with a comedy show. The glamour extends little further than a photobooth-sized backstage (demarcated by a crushed velvet curtain which doesn’t meet the floor; we see his feet before his face) from which Cody introduces himself, and once onstage he’s constantly interrupted by variously inebriated punters from the front bar looking for the bathroom and maybe a momentary heckle. The 24-year-old Werribee boy adeptly deflects the challenges and I can immediately understand his reputation as a pub comedian; you get the feeling that he might be doing the heckling were he in any other profession.
I’ve seen snippets of Cody and he has always opened with merry self-deprecation – deciding never to have children on account of being a redhead, his “Mediocre Relationship Advice” skits and so on – but tonight this is approach is noticeably absent. His acerbic wit, which at times borders vaguely uncomfortably on vitriol, is tonight directed almost entirely outward as he takes on small towns, cyclists, travel agents and other unsuspecting targets. For the most part it’s in good fun; the audience laughs genially and Cody takes advantage of the small room to revel in their assent.
The humour is fairly broad though, and when he embarks on various “my girlfriend” stories (another staple of the act) my enthusiasm begins to wane. There are obvious similarities in these anecdotes to the way Dave Hughes (who seems to be something of a mentor to Cody) talks about his wife, but I never found Hughes to be distasteful. His stories are measured; the gentle teasing of his wife seems underscored by affection, and he readily makes himself the butt of the joke. When Cody talks about his apparently gorgeous yet crazy girlfriend she is always the butt of the joke, while he is the loveable scoundrel who just wants to have sex with other women all the time. It’s funny to an extent, but it’s not particularly endearing; there’s no Russell Brand-esque, winking at the camera cheek, and without the element of self-deprecation it can come across as genuinely, not jokingly, arrogant. It also didn’t make me particularly receptive to the “I know I’m not supposed to make rape jokes, but I’m JOKING” bit which immediately followed.
Overall it’s not a bad night; it has all the charms and laughs of good amateur comedy. I’d recommend rocking up early to smash a few $3 pots of Boags, say g’day to his sister on the door, get a comfy couch (not front row unless you’re keen to get involved) and feel free to get a bit rowdy, because if Cody’s not pulling any punches then maybe we don’t need to either.*
Nick Cody in Sinful Thinking runs until April 22 at Softbelly Bar, 367 Lt. Bourke St. For tickets head to the MICF website for bookings.
Words: Jess Kemp
*please do not actually punch him