‘Claw Machine’ // Chris Martin

‘Claw Machine’ was multifarious.

One of Brisbane’s upcoming and exciting new stand-up comics, Chris Martin, has brought his brand new comedy special, ‘Claw Machine’, to the Anywhere Festival… stage?

Anywhere Festival is, as the name suggests, an array of performances and productions held in often obscure and unusual locations. With nothing but a bottle of water, a chair and a microphone, Martin captivated his audience in the intimate underground arcade at Pincadia, Woolloongabba.

Not to be confused with Gwyneth Paltrow’s British singer-songwriter husband, Queensland’s Chris Martin is a 30-something scientist, who has performed his routines at comedy clubs across Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide. His comedy special showed that he has what it takes: diversity, relatability and a knack for quality storytelling.

The special runs for a solid hour, and shares an overarching message about life that is cleverly connected to the arcade setting. Martin links his puns, anecdotes and punchlines back to the show’s setting with a solid life lesson to end the set. This is not only reflected in the title for the comedy special but also helps unify the eclectic mix of comedy styles and techniques that Martin incorporates, as well as the mismatched stories that he shares.

After Martin delivers the show’s message about life and its challenges, he makes an attempt at audience participation. Unfortunately, this type of comedy is not Martin’s strong point, and it leaves the audience with a touch of confusion and makes an awkward finish to an otherwise polished show. However, the fact that Martin was unable to gain traction with his audience participation is almost redundant. He masters several other comedy styles and manages to command the room, who respond with laughter and applause throughout.

The whole special has a sort of colourful feeling to it. Right away the bright lights of the pinball machines and disco balls help create a feeling of fun. Martin performs in a small corner by the bar, where his focus is divided between audience members to his right and in front. The awkward shape of the space doesn’t detract from Martin’s storytelling, as he manages to present himself with open body language and mindful eye contact.

At the beginning of his set, Martin throws some one-liners to the crowd and announces that the climax of the show has passed. This self-deprecation is just one of the many techniques that Martin utilises to ensure he reaches every audience member. Martin makes a point of talking about his age, and the challenges of aging, which was ironic given he is still in his early 30s. However, Martin’s casual demeanour and friendly person allowed him to get away with this.

One part of the set was based on the idea of politics, which is always an easy way to lose people. Fortunately, Martin tackled the topic well and was able to steer the show back toward more wholesome discussions, like family and burning down kitchens. He also gave the audience some of his very clever impressions. These were strategic but simple, and very effective. Of all the segments of the show, this was one of the highlights, it was unique and could easily be Martin’s signature style.  

Many of his traditional jokes are about his early love life, career and family. He acknowledges the universality of these concepts and ensures that many of his jokes include some form of advice for this audience. For example, he tells his the audience that whenever a fire is started with oil, not to try putting it out with the garden hose. Sound advice.

Martin’s comedy feels familiar but unique. His material never feels forced, and while some of the topics are not new to comedy audiences, his fresh take provides for some solid laughs.

‘Claw Machine’ is a refreshingly relatable comedy special, thanks to its multifarious format and Martin’s personability. This young comic may still be finding his feet in the comedy arena, but he has the skill, and he knows what he’s doing.

‘Claw Machine’ performs again on Thursday, 16 May and Saturday, 25 May.  Visit https://anywhere.is/listings/claw for more information and tickets.

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