Some of the pleasures of progressive stand-up comedy arise from the comic’s ability to push boundaries, explore social taboos and judge how far they can nudge audiences out of their comfort zones without losing them.

Whether the crowd laugh along to jokes they might never make themselves or shake their heads in disgust isn’t so much a question of content but whether they like the person delivering it.

Loquacious neo hipster Simon Keck — who rocks thick-rimmed glasses as deep as they are wide and apparently doesn’t own shoes — gets away with a lot because he’s likeable.

There’s oodles of sex and toilet humour in Keck’s one hour gab fest Cheating Life and yet the show doesn’t feel overtly smutty.

His style is a curious mixture of low-brow and high-minded, out-there and every day. In a fast flowing collection of gags Keck delivers quality stand-up, moving fluidly from the inoffensively prosaic (board games) to the potentially problematic (fat jokes) to the political (a concise analogy linking cats to tasers) and back again.

Cheating Life is a conversational whirlwind of pointy, funny and intelligent jokes delivered with unprepossessing flair. In terms of a cohesive narrative package, or a tighter themed structure to amalgamate the material, it’ll be interesting to see which direction he takes in coming years.

At the end of Cheating Life, Keck implores the audience to take a punt on other up and coming comedians, those like him relegated to the peripheries of the scene. If he keeps up comedy like this, and keeps building on it, he won’t be there for too long.

Simon Keck in Cheating Life is on at Madame Brussels, Wednesday – Saturday 8pm until April 21st.

Luke Buckmaster also reviews films on Crikey film blog Cinetology.

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