Rhys Nicholson has this infectious way of delivering his jokes that might fool you into thinking that this is the first time he’s said this sequence of words, like the funny asides and minor revelations are occurring to him on the spot. Whether it’s an affected performance or authentic persona, the effect has you leaning in as though it’s just you across a coffee table from him as he irreverently confides his thoughts on sex toys, anxiety and emergencies.
There is something effortless about the way Nicholson builds on his own monologue. “It’s going to get darker than that, get on board,” he demands after a particularly macabre joke, making already outrageous comedy all the more vivid. He is wickedly indulgent, coy with punchlines so when he finally delivers them after a subtle buildup you feel like you’ve secretly won something.
The biggest punchline is bubbling underneath the show the whole time as you fall deeper and deeper into Nicholson’s world, where his anxiety is always thinking three steps forward in the wrong direction and his level of attractiveness depends on the hour of day he chooses to go to the gym.
Some of the best material explains his anxiety in a cathartic, pragmatic way. He doesn’t have any solutions, but he doesn’t shy away from frank explanations of his experiences. “Satellite problems” emerge from your original problem, he explains, using the bulimia nervosa borne from his anxiety as an example. It’s not confessional, it’s insightful.
If the show has any main theme, however, it’s “[his] dick and how it relates to others,” in his own words. Stellar sarcasm, pervasive energy and propitiously crude jokes make even this a surprisingly enjoyable subject.
Words: Emily Hall
Rhys Nicholson: I’m Fine, Underbelly Med Quad, Aug 25-27, 9:15pm