There seems to be a myth that once queer people have been given gay marriage, oppression against the LGBTQ community ends. But as Australia discovered in 2017, the reality is quite the opposite. If anything, debates about marriage equality offer a platform for bigotry to be expressed on a national level.

Rhys Nicholson's material often looks at the intricacies and constant micro-aggressions that come with being a non-straight person today. But in the Aussie comic's new show Seminal, the jokes feel more acute than ever, particularly when he is grappling with his country's messy, harrowing choice to put same-sex marriage to a postal vote.

It would be misleading to say that's what last night's Loft show was entirely about. Nicholson burnt through topics at a relentless pace; at times it felt like he must hold a jokes-per-minute record.

His ability to layer punchline upon punchline before even getting to his final slam dunk is incredible – as is his skill at returning to the backbone narrative of his show after heading off on multiple tangents.


But about 40 minutes in, Nicholson's humour crystallised into something really surprising. Minority comedians face a dilemma when performing to non-minority audiences: how do they ensure the message is received intact, and the crowd isn't just laughing at them?

What Nicholson managed to pull off was deeply affecting, and a shining example of how to negotiate that predicament. Warmed by his humour, the crowd (who, on our night, appeared to be largely straight) was given real insight into just how hard it can be to exist as a queer person in 2018.

It had been, until then, a fast, energetic show, but it ended up somewhere quietly beautiful.

Who: Rhys Nicholson, 'Seminal'
Where: Loft at Q Theatre
When: Until May 5