Aussie comic Ray Badran has chosen an ambitious title for his debut Fringe show, but he doesn’t fall short of his mark. While most audiences will do their utmost to avoid the front row, Badran’s easy charm and haphazard delivery is so disarming that those lucky enough to interact with him feel more like they’re chatting with an old friend than an onstage predator keen to exploit their vulnerabilities for group laughs.
Armed with a strong Sydney brogue and laid-back attitude, Badran opens his set with a silly joke about dolphin sex that sets the tone for his style of humour, but not the medium in which he delivers it. That’s because it constitutes one of the few actual penned gags in the entire set; instead, Badran favours meandering anecdotes and quirky comedic observations about subjects such as garment pockets, refrigerator settings and sandwich ingredients.
A consequence of this approach to stand-up is that the show may suffer from a lack of structure. There’s no discernible rhythm, narrative or overarching organisation to Badran’s set, despite the tacking-on of a few callbacks at its conclusion. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and Badran’s unique style relies on his spontaneity and almost directionless delivery of the material; he’s reminiscent of a man who’s wandered in off the street who just happens to be naturally funny, rather than a professional comic pouring thousands of pounds into a Fringe set.
Problems with this approach could arise when the gags don’t come off. On the night in question, Badran enjoys an obliging audience and suffers few disappointments in that respect, but it’s easy to imagine more arcane gags with long set-ups and comparatively short pay-offs, such as naming his kids after pop song lyrics or a futuristic World Cup final, falling a little flat in front of the wrong crowd. All the more so when Badran deviates from his normal routine to relate instances where exactly those kinds of reactions have occurred.
Such tangents crop up more than once and underline Badran’s open and honest nature, which add to the charm of his persona but perhaps detract from the flow and effectiveness of his material. Pruning that flab from his routine would surely make for a more streamlined show, and though he wins through on his charisma alone, a slightly more professional approach could take him to the next level of the comedy hierarchy (and perhaps finally land him a national insurance number). Regardless, he’s a highly entertaining stand-up who easily achieves the status mentioned in his show’s title; next up, attaining the one emblazoned on the back of his hoody.