By Adam Rafferty
Dave O’Neil may call himself a lightweight, but the 57-year-old’s wealth of experience working the comedy circuit and the airwaves with his cheeky brand of humour means he can more than hold his own when it comes to a tricky crowd or an audience member reluctant to share the truth. On this night his teenage kids and their friends were in the audience, meaning O’Neil was having to “edit on the run” and a “Teskey Brothers” looking hipster in the front row was being far from forthcoming with detail as the comedian engaged in a bit of crowd-work, so he had his work cut out for him.
Years of breakfast radio on Nova (and the ill-fated Vega), frequent appearances on Spicks and Specks, a bunch of podcasts (including Somehow Related with Glenn Robins and The Junkees with Kitty Flanagan), plus a reputation for taking any and every corporate gig there is going, means it takes a lot to throw O’Neil off his game. So, it’s no surprise that this performance felt as full and as fun as if there were no obstacles in his way.
Yep, O’Neil loves a bit of crowd-work to get his stories rolling, and hearing what the retired couple from Perth in the front row did for their careers is just as much fun in his hands as his own stories about inheriting his deceased father’s Camry with its problematic bumper stickers. Nova’s recently retired breakfast crew: Chrissy, Sam and Browny would often call O’Neil ‘Mr Melways’ and his skill of knowing where every obscure suburb in Melbourne is located even extends to providing translations of Perth equivalents for his front row friends – Frankston is much like Mandurah apparently.
Put simply, Dave O’Neil is a heavyweight comedian of the highest order whose consummate skills at entertaining audiences of all ages means he could survive a gig at the bottom of the ocean as easily as he does in the plush new Basement Comedy Bar at Morris House (formerly the European Bier Café).