In a dull room on the first floor of an obscure hotel in Adelaide, British comedian Nik Coppin joked – as a comedian does – with the 30-strong crowd, warming up for the 50-minute show with Europe’s hit song The Final Countdown.
Endearing in a ‘funny uncle who talks a lot’ kind of way, the track indicated what was to follow.
One mandatory Brexit joke later the show began, Coppin engaging his audience with generous servings of intimacy.
Swaying from ribbing a front-row couple on their second date – their first had come a night prior at Coppin’s Shaggers show – to playfully schmoozing his mate Tom who wanted to hear new material, Coppin’s style heavily revolved around lovable dialogue with those ready and willing to reciprocate.
This played into his hand while he built a rapport with the crowd early on, but later saw the audience become perhaps too confident, throwing off the show’s rhythm and Coppin’s “magic of theatre”.
This was especially the case when one member of the aforementioned front-row couple pointed out that the arms of the Silver Surfer emblazoned on Coppin’s t-shirt were pointing to his nipples.
Nevertheless, the banter played nicely into Coppin’s rebuttal in which he likened his own dress sense to that of a 15-year-old.
Not your traditional stand-up comedian, Coppin’s antics read more like an affable substitute teacher telling jokes the whole lesson so long as the students were buying into it.
It made some sense then, when he divulged a series of stories centred around his antics as a children’s entertainer.
His new material – the focus of Sunday night’s show – consisted of 10 notecards prepared in a similar fashion to high school exam flashcards, with Coppin involving the audience in a ‘yell out until your number is called’ system to pick the jokes he would tell.
On one such card, the words “seahorse dick” accompanied by an illustration of a well-endowed seahorse – a fact Coppin wanted known, specifically pointing out his preparation to the crowd.
With the audience steering the ship, the gig wasn’t structured in the way you’d expect a stand-up comedy show to be. Instead, Coppin linked his stories with “that reminds me…” or “that’s kind of connected to…”.
Coppin seemed unfazed by the occasion, trawling through his content for 20 minutes longer than his allocated time. Commonly, his stories about telling jokes on his international stand-up circuit would draw more laughter from the all-ages crowd than the jokes themselves.
Although showcasing a natural ability to draw the hilarity out of the mundane, the depth and flow of Coppin’s material was lacking
Billed as a stand-up, comparing him to the likes of Tom Gleeson or Tommy Little doesn’t feel fitting. But, for just $10, Coppin made the 30-seater Boardroom at the Griffiths Hotel feel like an Australian backyard post-Christmas lunch, where he played the part of the favourite uncle, taking centre stage to yarn away all afternoon.
His meandering storytelling ebbed and flowed, and his crowd work was a hustle, but for the price of a pint, few could complain.
Image by Liam Fiddick