“Modish crap” was Michael Gove’s verdict on Turner prize-winning artist Helen Marten this week. Maybe he should hasten to Soho to see Australian standup Nick Cody, who has a routine sharing the same sentiment. Nothing wrong with being reactionary in comedy, of course, but wit is required to back it up. There’s little in Cody’s remarks about a reluctant gallery visit with his girlfriend: he just sneers at conceptual art (“abstract is the Latin word for shithouse”), before the routine expires with a weak punning punchline.
I wouldn’t describe that riff as typical of Cody’s show – which has its moments. There’s no doubting that the 29-year-old can craft and tell a decent story. But there’s hoary stuff here, like the lame drinking anecdote starring his “loose unit” dad. And the macho poses Cody strikes – reaching for a strip-club analogy to describe his visit to a distillery; boasting of how blase he was about securing his scholarship to private school – become wearing.
Most of the show traces Cody’s life as a globetrotting standup; the world beyond his own experience seldom impinges. Its highlights are his mickey-takes of TripAdvisor reviews; and there’s a neat twist in the tail of his gag about refusing to do anything that sounds soft.
But the show ends grimly, as Cody transports us to Kabul airport (he was there to entertain the troops, natch) and a cynical, self-centred closer about suicide bombing. He’s a capable comic, but he doesn’t exactly make the heart soar.
- At Soho theatre, London, until 10 December. Box office: 020-7478 0100.