Writing a positive review is quite difficult without using hyperbole, and in the spirit of Pierre Novellie’s Why Can’t I Just Enjoy Things, it is prudent to at least attempt to do so. A relatively cynical observationist, Novellie creates a show that forces us to confront some disappointing truths about reality and the subjectivity of experiencing enjoyment.
If most things are just middling, Novellie’s comedy is an exception to the rule
Novellie has the ability to describe every aspect of the mundane, and turn it into the type of joke that stems from having to confront a disappointing reality. But we’re not laughing to scare away a feeling of depression, but rather in agreement, as Novellie presents us with ideas that seek to find absurdity in the mundane. There are moments in this set that are quite daring, in an ‘I can’t believe he said that’ kind of way, but these moments of shock are quite tempered by the fact that there is a discernible truth behind everything Novellie says. He says it in such a straightforward and honest matter that comes off as rather world weary and adds fuel to the proverbial comedic fire.
It’s an interesting structure; it’s an observationist set wrapped up in an anecdote which veers off in several unexpected directions, a tangent with embellishments if you like; a show so convoluted that when Novellie starts to explain his train of thought, I gave up very quickly trying to track it in my notes, because there is so much to each point in his thought progression that no one but Novellie could make it all make sense. In this way, it is a completely unexpected set, after all it is not every day that you come across a comedian who reviews products and tenets of the everyday in such an entertaining and creative way that could easily put critics out of work.
Over the course of the show, Novellie answers the question at the heart of his show in a way that is bound to capture our thoughts and imaginations for the forseeable future. Every so often a comedian performs a set that is so intelligently written and mesmerising that it not only gives us a glimpse into their own life, but gives us an opportunity to take a really hard look at ourselves, our actions and ultimately what we want. Because what Novellie discusses in the show - whether it’s about the different way we express joy or the true disappointments of a meal deal sandwich - is in its own way, applicable to every member of the audience. This is the power of Novellie’s comedy, the fact that he creates a space to allow us to reflect and learn. It is rare that I leave a stand-up show with a to do list and a self-improvement kick. Did this show shatter my place in the universe? Honestly, I’m not sure, as there is something profound in Why Can’t I Just Enjoy Things? that just sticks with you afterwards, so much so that I am still trying to fully understand myself.
Why Can’t I Just Enjoy Things? is more than just 6/10 or fine. It’s the laughing crying emoji or ‘throwing up, crying, dead’. Whatever language you use, saying that this is an amazing show that comes from a very sophisticated and intelligent comedic mind isn’t an exaggeration. If most things are just middling, Novellie’s comedy is an exception to the rule.