Canadian stand-up Asaf Gerchak is in Melbourne with his show Asaf Gerchak is a Terrible Stage Name. Being his debut run of MICF, Gerchak acts his own publicist – his promotion of the show revolving around how “unmarketable” his name is. While this is no doubt an ironic attempt to make the show marketable, there’s something endearing about this newcomer in that he seems hilariously self-aware of his own lack of MICF mileage. This was seen at the beginning of his routine when he crouched under a table and introduced himself in the invisible MC style more typical of comics who have climbed the ranks.
It seemed imminent that the name of the show would feature in Gerchak’s routine. Thankfully, however, he came just shy of beating his audience over the head with it and set himself up strongly with a segue into a bit about his poor fortune in getting an unimposing rap name on the online Wu Tang Rap Name Generator.
From this, the promise of continuous and self-reflexive humour – the sort of humour that rewards a good attention span – seemed probable. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before Gerchak’s charisma deteriorated into silliness, and narrative was sacrificed for a series of stand-alone bits that simply lacked the humour and cleverness he had so far cultivated.
While anti-narrative is in no way an illegitimate way of approaching comedy, none of Gerchak’s anecdotes and gags seemed to land – at least not with the younger members of his audience. His routine ranged from the concept of ‘taco night’ and its apparent superiority to basically everything, to ‘reverse racism’. A personal favourite was his bit about going through white supremacist forums and subconsciously siding with the most ‘rational’ supremacist, only to come to his wits and realise the absurdity of siding with a supremacist.
But even that barely warranted a ‘ha’ – the gag sounds funnier on paper than it was in its delivery. Indeed, Gerchak’s major downfall was his delivery. His persona registered as an uncool kid trying to be cool; an introverted man attempting comedy; but not in a way that lent ironic humour or charisma to his routine.
On a less-harsh assessment, Gerchak’s performance can be chalked up to lack of experience with a Melbourne crowd. And perhaps it speaks volumes of my own depravity and bitterness that the only bits in his show that amused me were the ones bordering on self-deprecation. Regardless, Gerchak seemed an incorrigible nice-guy who I’d like to see do well next time around.
Asaf Gerchak will be performing three more shows: 3, 4 and 6 April at the Horse Bazaar.