Garret Millerick: Sunflower

Garret Millerick: Sunflower
Garret Millerick: Sunflower
Soho Theatre, London
Tue 12th – Sat 16th Feb 2019

by Alex Plant

The best comedy does more than simply make you laugh; it makes you feel. Though that’s not to say that there isn’t any merit to an hour of thought-free laughter. Indeed, that’s the sort of show Garrett Millerick states that Sunflower (named after his favourite Beach Boys album) was initially meant to be; free from politics and sob-stories. However, the unpredictable nature of life has a habit of getting in the way of best laid plans…

Millerick is a hell of a presence. As be barrels on stage his booming voice and immaculate beard certainly grab your attention, but his measured mastery of different dynamics are what hold that attention for the duration of the set. He quickly establishes his curmudgeonly credentials by telling the crowd that his three favourite things are, “solitude, silence and lying on the floor”, but does so in such a way that it’s impossible not to take a shine to him.

His relationship with the mic is fascinating. Sometimes he seems to not even need it, having it almost at arms length and holding his own against the PA. But then his delivery softens and as he holds the mic closer we get a glimpse of his vulnerable side, and it’s this seamless transition that makes Sunflower such an effective show.

The first half consists of a series of well-observed routines on nostalgia and pop-culture, including a particularly funny run on the idea of an anonymous millionaire that thrives on the misery of low-tier pop stars. Along the way however, Millerick seeds little nuggets that subtly prepare the audience for the more thoughtful second half. About two thirds in there’s a tonal shift so sudden that you’ll question whether you actually misheard what was said. I won’t spoil it here, but suffice it to say that Millerick and his wife Sarah have been put through the emotional wringer in the last twelve months. In the hands of a lesser comic, this dramatic u-turn wouldn’t work, but Millerick’s carefully considered delivery has you hanging on his every word.

What starts out as a themeless show becomes a poignant exploration of when it’s appropriate to make a joke, performed by a comedian who bares himself in an open and honest way that’s tough to not admire. And it’s still really, really funny! Likely to make you laugh and cry in equal measure, Sunflower is the sort of tightly crafted show that many comedians never even get close to.


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