Carl Hutchinson: Learning the Ropes

Can you smell what the Carl is cooking?

★★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 14 Aug 2015

Some argue that affectionate parody, which originates from love rather than derision, is far more effective than its bitter or hateful equivalents. Personally, I've never been sure, but Carl Hutchinson's paean to professional wrestling makes a strong case for the hypothesis.

The immediately affable Hutchinson begins his hour of autobiographical standup with Fringe-familiar themes of quarter-life crisis-inspired introspection, but he's wise enough not to dwell on it for too long. In pondering what really matters in life and what he still wishes to achieve, the world of pro-wrestling is his most resounding conclusion. This is fortunate, since there has rarely been a subject so tailor-made for parody. He understands that the entire enterprise is ridiculous, and that's why he loves it, and has even taken steps to enter it himself. By the end of the show, even the most sceptical audiences will be able to see the appeal.

Although it might sound rather niche, Hutchinson is at his best when going into geekish detail about the history of his favourite wrestlers, explaining the tangled back-story of the Undertaker or analysing to lyrics to Billy Gunn's theme song. Still, even his more banal anecdotes (of school and holidays past) never fail to amuse.

Hutchinson is also quick witted when under attack. When dealing with hecklers, his most surprisingly effective weapon is polite restraint: only when the drunken family in the front row had repeatedly made fools of themselves did he start doing the same. A good finishing move for either a standup or a wrestler.