It feels a little like Sam Taunton has come out of nowhere.
As it turns out, he isn’t quite the overnight success he seems. A RAW Comedy finalist in 2015, Taunton was selected to be part of the Comedy Zone at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival the following year before being nominated for Best Newcomer at the festival in 2017.
2019 was something of a breakout year for Taunton as he scored weekly segments on The Project and triple j, also winning the Pinder Prize at MICF. Following this, a top notch review in The Scotsman helped him sell out his debut run at the acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
All in all, Taunton was a star on the rise ready for big things in 2020.
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Then his career flatlined. By his own admission he went off the rails, developed serious addictions to My Muscle Chef, lemon cordial and YouTube videos of people hearing famous songs for the first time. Not to mention bombarding our screens relentlessly during lockdown in an eBay ad where he got in trouble for selling his girlfriend’s designer handbag behind her back.
Surprisingly, there wasn’t any mention of any of this in ‘Rooster’, or why it was called that either. It could have been that there was a story relating to a chicken shop interlaced throughout the second part of the show – we’ll never know.
Taunton’s 2021 Melbourne International Comedy Festival show is super enjoyable. While he has lots of clever lines and stories throughout the show, it’s really hard to look past how darn likeable he is. He’s also extremely relatable. Cool but self-conscious, slightly effeminate, good-looking, fashionable and funny… but most of all he’s brilliantly self-aware. It’s clear he cares what people think.
The middle portion of the show sees Taunton take the audience through a series of his own reviews. While they’re all good, they each had lines in them that poke fun at him, one even comparing his appearance to Mackenzie Crook’s Gareth from the original version of The Office.
By his own acknowledgement, a Sunday crowd is a little more subdued than Friday and Saturday nights. This one was no exception, so it took a little while longer to warm up the crowd. While doing so, Taunton was happy to chastise himself for jokes that fell flat. Instead of the few misfires punctuating the show in a negative way, his self-deprecation only made him more likeable and relatable – ultimately improving the rapport between himself and the audience.
Being from Sydney, Taunton is clearly very aware of the Sydney-versus-Melbourne rivalry and tailored his show to a Melbourne audience, placating us right off the top with the confession that he “knows Melbourne is better”. Any stories or anecdotes involving his hometown were welcomed by the crowd after that acknowledgement.
Taunton is worth seeing simply on his impressive comedic merits, but finding out what happened when he was a 16-year-old pedestrian hit by a P-plate driver is worth the cost of admission alone!
Catch Sam Taunton at Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2021 from now until Sunday April 18 (bar Mondays). Find out more here.