People Like Us is enjoyable to people like Brendan Goh and doubtless more.

Malaysian-born gay comedian Brendan Goh has just made his one-hour comedy special debut in Adelaide’s proudest LGBTQ+ arts and cultural celebration, Feast Festival. In this autobiographical comedy set, performed in the very agreeable bar called My Lover Cindi in Pirie Street, Goh shares his experience growing up gay in Malaysia and navigating his new life in Australia.

When the venue door opens, Goh welcomes his audience in the foyer for a brief moment and then retreats to the green room.

Later, before the performance begins, he anxiously paces around the entrance with one hand on his chin. This nervous disposition follows him onto the stage. With hesitant steps and a slouched posture, he does not radiate confidence. Until he picks up the microphone. His official greeting to the audience is joyful and energetic. He engages with questions about their sexual and gender identities which effectively raises the energy of the room. 

Goh is socially aware and quick-witted. Most of his jokes are clever and well-written. However, his delivery could be improved to earn those jokes the laughs they deserve. He stays on a higher vocal register and uses the same speech pattern to deliver every sentence. He has a beautifully sweet speaking voice that, with better phrasing and inflection, would be captivating. 

An awkward period is when Goh lingers on vulgar sex jokes for too long. It is certainly an easy way to get cheap laughs but, with his wit and intelligence, he has the potential for something more complex and smart.

This one-hour set is a good way for him to introduce himself to Adelaide. However, at some point, he will need to think about what makes him click beyond his sexuality and ethnicity. 

This performance of People Like Us is actually a trial for Goh before he presents the show again in Adelaide Fringe 2024. An admirable quality of Goh is his reactivity. He is able to sense immediately when a joke does not work. If one asks what they can expect from his sets, the answer shall be “improvement”. 

Goh mentions that the main reason why he does standup comedy in Australia is to amplify the voices of his community. His performance definitely achieves such: he amplifies the voices of people like him, of people like us.

Brendan Goh performed at My Lover Cindi on November 16 as part of Feast Festival, which continues until November 19. He is also planning to present People Like Us at next year’s Adelaide Fringe.

Nicky Tsz Tung Li is the fourth recipient of the Helpmann Academy InReview Mentorship. She is working with experienced writer Samela Harris to write a series of articles for publication on InReview.

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