There are a few comedians who believe that the way to get noticed in the business is to take the heaviest subject they can think of and try to mine a full length show out of it. It’s a hard task, and rarely achieved – possibly best left in the hands of old pros like Rob Quantock. Xavier Toby gives the concept an admirable shot, but ultimately it comes off as a weak hour of preachy comedy.
White Trash puts the focus on racism. Where it’s acceptable to be racist, how people try to rationalise racism, how Toby is (unforgivably) inwardly racist while looking for a laundromat, plus some random jabs at people with tattoos, ‘my family’ stickers, and an effective penguin analogy.
The material wasn’t particularly memorable (you know it’s grim when dictionary definitions are quoted in a comedy show), as Toby rambled from one over-laboured point to the next. The abstract remained that way, concepts were half explained, and jokes were tacked on like punctuation marks to remind you this was a comedy show.
Toby delivers the show with confidence and responded to the mild heckles from the audience well – he was clearly comfortable with the topic. While he’s got some quite passionate, judgmental views about racism in a harmless leftist way, he’s decided to put a few jokes in there as well. While an hour seemed barely sufficient for him, the audience felt it. He had a lot to say about racism, and was determined to get through it all. The jokes just seemed to slow him down, if anything.
Toby’s show White Trash is chuckle inducing at times, and a rambling slog at the other. It’s a pulpit show that tries to be something else, but coming from such an unfunny subject matter, there’s a long way to go. Unfortunately, the humour takes an obvious backseat, and the entire gig comes off as something that would better suit fifteen minutes at an activism rally.
Xavier Toby in White Trash is on at the Lithuanian Club in the Melbourne Fringe Festival until 13th October.