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Tom Gleeson hits the mark

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Just what is behind that bemused smile? Tom Gleeson looks like he’s constantly wondering why people take life – and his comments – so seriously. He certainly doesn’t.

Gleeson is one of Australia’s top stand-up comedians. It’s no surprise that he and fellow comedian Kitty Flanagan, this year’s Adelaide Fringe Ambassador, have been announced as Charlie Pickering’s sidekicks in his new ABC television show to be launched in April.

Well-known for his political satire, Gleeson put us straight at the start of his sold-out Fringe show on Friday night. Noting the latest polls, and the fact that he doesn’t like to pick on minorities, he said he was not going to pick on Tony Abbott – and he almost didn’t.

Gleeson’s laid-back style conceals a finely honed show; his seemingly loose collection of anecdotes, one-liners and send-ups is anything but innocent or random. Stories loop back to click into place, sometimes at his own expense, sometimes at our own preciousness. Going by the audience reaction, he regularly hit the mark. A classic was his take on dining-out experiences.

Blissfully content and successful, Gleeson points out that his perfect life does not supply much in the way of stand-up comedy material and thus he has to turn to less fortunate souls like ourselves for fodder. He also freely admits to being a bit of an arsehole, and deliberately so, goading family members and strangers alike for personal pleasure and professional gain.

Gleeson’s smile is the smile of the wind-up merchant.

Tom Gleeson is performing at the Umbrella Revolution in the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 15.

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