By: Adam Rafferty
American born, Australian based comedian Mike Goldstein has been working the comedy circuit both here and internationally since the noughties. But his regular appearances of recent on Channel 9’s The Hundred with Andy Lee – where he plays “budget Hamish Blake”, as he calls himself – will be delivering him new audiences keen to see the moustachioed wise-cracker serve up more of his cheeky charm.
Regular listeners to his podcast with Nick Capper, The Phone Hacks, will be more familiar with Goldstein’s signature style of prank-laden, potty-mouthed dark humour, and certainly the crowd on Saturday night had at least a couple of fans more familiar with this side of his work. Combine that with punters in town for the Grand Prix taking a chance on the unknown and he has his work cut out for him to find the right tone to balance the show for everyone.
Like many stand-ups, Goldstein does a lot of ‘crowd work’ to get a sense of the room and to provide spontaneous banter to bounce improv comedy off, but this uneven mix of audience expectations can have a somewhat lumpy result. Jokes about mistaking who the waiter is in a restaurant, the perils of having a body-building girlfriend and whether ‘teamwork’ is what Australia is all about, land really well and bond the audience in laughter. But Goldstein’s insecurities sometimes come to the fore when he seems to blame the crowd for jokes that don’t land so well – a run of jokes on 9/11 discomfited a few at this performance.
Goldstein has an easy charm, and even when his frustrations bubble up, he doesn’t lose the crowd – a suggestion that he should wind up the show early led to more support from the audience than some of the more structured elements of his routine. As a Jewish American expat with a white dad and a Sri Lankan mom, Goldstein is a rare beast in the comedy world, and it’s clear the audience – at least on Saturday night – love when his jokes a self-reflective, more so than when they’re about ‘what you can make fun of nowadays’ or wisecracks of the pranking variety.