Damien Power: Alone in the Crowd.

Gorilla Specials: Damien Power Makes A Terribly Funny Case For Being ‘Alone In The Crowd’

It’s rare to see such an unrestrained, almost honest special outside of a Marc Maron, Drew Michael, or Jerrod Carmichael release. Damien Power, however, takes the stage and lets it rip in a semi-associative way that plays out the way shows like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel tell you it should. There’s vulnerability, even if it is heavily-written. There’s speaking truth, even if that truth may change or erode in a few years. Alone In The Crowd makes space for the idea of conversation, and never feels like it’s trying too hard to be clever. 

Damien Power: Alone in the Crowd.
Damien Power: Alone in the Crowd. Courtesy of Damien Power.

Damien Power isn’t afraid to take on generational differences.

Early on in his set, Power shares this observation:

“So, I’m in a poly relationship now. Yeah, I just found out. It’s good when you find out, isn’t it? ‘Cause poly, like, polyamory is so popular now, with young people, like, particularly young people. And people give young people today more shit than any generation. You know what I mean. Look, it’s not fair. Look, if I were to describe young people today, I would describe them as hypersexual environmentalists. That’s the best way…is that bad? ‘Cause you know how everything is hypersexual and political with young people. Everything. Everything’s like, (mimes the gesture for eating a woman out), ‘Save the koalas.’ Innit? Everything’s sexual and political. Everything’s like ‘Hey guys, my pussy’s wet, but there’s a drought in Uganda.’”

Here, Power manages to land a sharp observation about the ineffectuality of youth efforts to change things that are globally important, while getting off lines like “Raise your fist into my ass for worker’s rights.”However, rather than let the criticism stand as an undeniable truth like traditional stand-up might, Power looks inward, and tries to call himself out for his judgments. He shares that his town and its conservative culture shaped him in ways that maybe aren’t great, but that are part of him nonetheless, saying:

“I’m from the most conservative electorate in Australian history. I’m from the most conservative town in Australia. I’m from Toowoomba, Queensland. And they didn’t fucking like change. I remember when they built the first cafe in Toowoomba. It was a coffee club…That’s true, they built a coffee club, and people fucking hated it because they thought it was pretentious. Just people buying coffee. People passed by, ‘Fucking coffee wankers. Fucking, what’s wrong with meth in the morning?’”

Power will point out members of the crowd that exemplify his jokes, at least when it comes to age brackets. It’s a clever tactic that makes the audience feel seen, even if centers older generations in jokes about moving to avoid feelings, or criticizing his dad by explaining that “Dad never looks inward, he’s just going, ‘You won’t get me life, I’m going too quick to feel. You won’t catch me!’” By sharing his deeper experience with life, Power is able to bring more than his jokes to the stage, and it can’t help but make audiences want to take the journey with him. 

Power tries to take the temperature of a cultural shift beyond the obvious.

If there’s a theme to the special, it’s that things change, and circumstances and upbringing will illuminate that divide. After talking about his father and his upbringing, Power considers the fact that  “It’s a very individualistic time. It’s really the height of the individual, you know, and I can’t imagine my generation dying for something bigger than themselves, for example. Like, hands up if you’d die for your country…yeah, that sort of went out of fashion, didn’t it?”

Here, the laugh comes from the lack of raised hands, but Power is more interested in building his point. After running through a joke about the way army recruitment commercials have changed, he hits on some of the things that aren’t better for the times, including comedy audiences. Power, in a move that’s interesting for a special taped in front of an audience, discusses audience entitlement, saying:

“Man, people hate comedy more than any other performing art when it goes wrong. Like, the level of what people want. Like, I’ve had people wait for me in the car park. Like, ‘Fuck it. Not funny dude, what the fuck? Why wasn’t it funny man? What the fuck?’ Do you reckon any other performing art gets that? Do you reckon ballet gets that?”

There’s a back and forth to the good and bad that Power tries to situate, and his wrestling with it, as written as it may be, and as acted as it may be, is interesting and salient. 

Power knows how to make a point and write a killer punchline.

Lest you think Alone in the Crowd is a serious exercise in generational discourse, rest assured that Power still knows how to crack off a great observation and a great punchline all in one. For example:

“Homophobia is still so happening. It’s crazy. Everytime I see, like, Christians or Muslims going like, ‘Homosexuality is not natural.’ My man, natural is whatever nature permits. Whatever nature allows is natural. If everytime I tried to put my penis in a man’s mouth, it just repelled? Like, I was like, ‘I love you Steve, but I can’t. It just won’t let me. It’s not permitted.’ Like, you know, like two chess pieces in a travel pack where they’re like (mimes repelling). Like, ‘I love you, but I can’t. I can’t.’ Like they’re running the dick at the mouth. You’re running the dick at him.’ That would  be, that’s like nature going, ‘Nah.That’s unnatural.’ Like, we can’t travel faster than the speed of light, because there’s not enough processing power in the simulation.” Tag “If when gay people had sex, they traveled faster than the speed of light, well, that, that would be unnatural.”

Over and over again, Power manages to make his audience think, reflect, and laugh, ushering in a way of comedy that might be healthy, and encourage audiences to wait in the car park less often. 

Damien Power's new comedy special, Alone in the Crowd, will be streaming tonight on YouTube. The new special & album is also available for purchase on 800 Pound Gorilla!

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