I have admired Rhys Nicholson from afar for a few years, and after being unable to get a ticket to his Fringe show last year, I was ecstatic to be able to see him this year. His incredible pace and stage presence, and a sense of humour I find incredibly refreshing, made all the waiting worth it.
Nicholson chose to play showtunes to welcome his guests in – this is the opposite of a complaint. This year I’ve taken to noting what music is playing when I enter a Fringe show, and spookily, often the shows with music I like playing have been the ones I have enjoyed the most. In the middle of Angela Lansbury’s iconic ‘Worst Pies in London’, the lights dim and onto the stage bounded Nicholson.
He has an infectious energy. Sporting a bright red quiff, slick blue suit, and bolo tie, he wastes no time in launching into joke after joke. He points out the space – or, as he put it, ‘I’m calling it a space’ – we are in immediately (the Underbelly Fresian). The size constraints would be one of my only criticisms: because of his infectious energy, having a smaller space hurt Nicholson more than helped him. He would do well in a larger venue where he can bounce off of the presence of a crowd. However, he worked incredibly well with what was given to him.
Nicholson leans very much into his sexuality, and how he represents the queer community as a public figure. He discusses messages he’s received from people telling him how to act as a gay man in the spotlight, his relationship with his long-term partner, he pokes fun at Queer Eye… He has had very unique experiences, and this results in an equally unique comedy show.
He also riffs extremely well into unplanned jokes. I saw him on one of his first nights, and by his own admission he was ‘trying some stuff out’. He also discussed the imminent ‘mid-to-late Fringe breakdown’ heading his way. His audience interaction is engaging, but brief enough that it doesn’t bleed into the jokes. And you wouldn’t want it to – they are witty, whip-smart, so-quick-you’d-miss-them jokes. He dances carefully on the line between chaos and calamity, but his pace is impeccable and never falters. He is simply unmissable – take it from me.
Rhys Nicholson: Nice People, Nice Things, Nice Situations runs until the 25th of August – buy tickets here.