Corey White’s debut Melbourne International Comedy Festival show The Cane Toad Effect has sold out three times so far, which is impressive given the festival only started last week. The show, named after the well intentioned but ultimately disastrous introduction of the cane toad to Northern Australia, approaches the Platonic suggestion that no man does what he considers evil.
White, an ex-Brisbanite, has a wild history that he is unafraid to talk about. He broaches just about every sensitive topic, from drug abuse to suicide via rape and heartbreak. Despite the hard hitting subject matter, the show is uplifting, and genuinely hilarious. Compassion is at the centre, although it takes a while for the audience to realise this. The crowd are a little awkward, hesitant to laugh. One woman audibly sucks her teeth every time White begins up a new story. There’s a good reason for this awkwardness. White is directly contrasting the middle class experience of the majority of his audience with his own troubled background, and it is difficult not to feel guilt.
Luckily, White is a skilled enough performer and writer to guide his audience through their embarrassment. Ultra personal, and essentially lacking in a stage persona, White is incredibly likeable and friendly. He is smiley, giggly even, and his face is childlike and open. White is easy to trust, not only because of his honesty, but also because of his intelligence. He is enormously insightful, managing to craft a relatable narrative around even the most violent and isolating moments of his life.
Enthusiasm is by nature infectious, and White coaxes his audience into laughter even as some of them drag their feet. The Cane Toad Effect should come with a trigger warning and a must see sticker.
The Cane Toad Effect is on at the Portland Hotel at 9:30pm Tuesday to Saturday and 8:30pm on Sundays. Tickets sell quickly, so book online or at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival box office.