Words by Kevin Hawkins
The only other time I’ve seen Lehmo speak at a live event was on 23 February, at the Reza Berati #lightthedark vigil. That evening, the breakfast morning radio presenter and refugee rights advocate gave an impassioned and thought-provoking speech, defending people seeking asylum. It was a breath of fresh air to hear an Australian personality uninhibited by the commercial or political pressures of television or radio, and just speaking their mind.
While Lehmo wasn’t particularly funny that evening, his speech that night gave me the impression that he would be one person worth seeing at the upcoming Melbourne International Comedy Festival. I didn’t expect him to preach his political values at his audience (only Tom Gleeson can get away with that), but I expected him to bring intelligence – or a sharp wit, at the very least – to his performance.
Perhaps my expectations were too high, but LEHMOOOO!!! (Get Involved) failed to deliver. While his set was amusing, one gets the impression Lehmo didn’t work particularly hard on writing his material. He took aim primarily at the low-hanging fruit*: the Corby family, the Southern Star, his nagging girlfriend, cheap airlines, and bogans. I’d be lying to say I didn’t laugh at anything, but there wasn’t much in Lehmo’s repertoire that I hadn’t heard before. Perhaps the best way to sum it up is that Lehmo’s best material was a running gag about cats, and a joke about MH370*.
Lehmo’s formulaic routine certainly doesn’t compromise the great work he does as an ambassador for Welcome to Australia, Make It Possible, and Live Below the Line – among other initiatives. But those hoping for something more intelligent than your typical stand up routine might be better off waiting around for the next asylum seekers rally.
LEHMOOOO!!! (Get Involved) is on at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival at the Melbourne Town Hall on 14 April.