There are moments during Doc Brown’s Of Mic and Men show where you might wonder whether you’re at the comedy festival or in a lecture. Brown often goes minutes without telling a joke, using his set as a platform to discuss his views on race, politics, crime, and parenting in a slow and measured tone. His progressive values and open-mindedness are certainly welcome, but given the educated, cosmopolitan nature of the Melbourne audience, one could dismiss Brown for preaching to the converted.
Brown’s tendency to take long pauses and walk around the stage aimlessly means that his punchline per minute ratio is lower than many of his compatriots. But if you prefer laughs to lessons, don’t worry; Brown is still a funny man. Even when discussing serious topics, he finds a way to make his spiel entertaining, including a bit of irony here, and a verse of rap there.
With a background in hip hop, Brown hits his highest notes—and gets his best audience reactions—when breaking into rhymes. If the noise generated by the audience is any indication, one suspects they wanted more freestyling than philosophising.
Brown’s style won’t be to everybody’s liking, but he brings an intelligent and thoughtful voice to an industry where it can be so much easier to appeal to the lowest common denominator. If less cultured members of the audiences can walk out of Brown’s show feeling a little bit worldly—not to mention with a smile on their face—then it’s fair to say he’s done a good job.
Doc Brown is performing Of Mic and Men at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from 27 March to 20 April.