Rhys Nicholson: “Rhys! Rhys! Rhys!” at Edinburgh Fringe 2022

**** (out of 5)

“Are straight men OK?”

It’s a valid question for Rhys Nicholson to ask, or for anyone paying attention to the news inside or outside of comedy these days. Nicholson’s newest hour, which won Most Outstanding Show earlier this year at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, worries more about the cis boys (and their heteronormative relationships) than about their own status in life and love. If the show I attended is any indication, even the straight men in the audience have some soul-searching to do.

Nicholson jokes about never needing to come out as gay, even growing up in Newcastle (New South Wales edition) where it felt more welcoming for miners than for minors who may be queer. In a long-term relationship, Nicholson had planned for marriage in 2020, but for obvious reasons, those nuptials haven’t yet come to fruition. And yet, Nicholson’s already looking forward to divorce. If only for the status and the privilege of opening up a particular type of shoppe. In the meantime, there’s plenty of good reasons (one in particular) for dinner dates out at restaurants held in complete silence. So much to learn from the young couples of today. So much confidence they have! Nicholson has just enough confidence to go to the gym in the late mornings rather than join the early risers (“I’m a 7 a.m. 4 but an 11 a.m. 9.”)

But, as it turns out, Nicholson has needed to come out during the pandemic. As nonbinary. So while their jokes and riffs about the pandemic and relationships and the state of the stand-up comedy scene are all well and uproarious, I couldn’t come away from this hour without wanting to already hear their next hour. The one where they really grapple with and poke at the way society has mugged them over and over again.

Rhys Nicholson – Rhys! Rhys! Rhys! runs through Aug. 28, 2022, at Underbelly, Bristo Square (Ermintrude).

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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