When you see a Michelle Brasier show you can be guaranteed of two things: you will laugh and you will feel.

This is the unique talent of a comedian whose act is as much an examination of the human condition as it is an attempt to raise a smile. Brasier is a masterful storyteller, combining stand-up, song and visual props to weave real life tales that are absolutely spellbinding. Reform is no exception, and retells the extraordinary story of how she befriended a scammer from whom she’d bought a $500 pilates reformer machine on Facebook marketplace in the depths of Melbourne’s 2020 lockdown. 

The tale continues to get more murky and increasingly absurd as she finds herself feeling strangely responsible for the mental health of a man who is quite clearly trying to steal her money. At one point during a stay in hospital she even agrees to be his emergency contact, taking him through a guided meditation as she’s forced to ponder how he’s scamming her but, “I’m still doing all the admin.”

How she got to this point and why, by her own admission she is, “riddled with empathy” is at the heart of the show. What makes us want to believe the best of people? And is anyone ever truly beyond redemption? What particularly resonated for me was her exploration of the uniquely female experience of trying to change or save broken men, and how women have been socially conditioned to be polite to a fault, endlessly accommodating bad behaviour for fear of bothering people or being seen as too aggressive. 

Despite falling victim to a scam, Brasier’s message is one of compassion and deep humanity, inviting us to look for the bruises that inform our decisions, because we “can’t keep putting people in the bin.” Ultimately, she concludes that she’d rather be a fool than a cynic and in these divisive and febrile times, there’s something quite beautiful about that. An exhilarating, profound and incredibly funny hour of comedy that left me wanting more.

Michelle Brasier is at Gilded Balloon Teviot (Dining Room) until 27 August.

Michelle Brasier PHOTO Nick Robertson
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