Review: Ryan Coffey – On Keys

3 years ago
Til Knowles

Ryan Coffey isn’t your average musical comedian. There are no cutesy acoustic guitars or twee renditions of modern pop songs with altered lyrics. Instead, Ryan Coffey On Keys is a slick fifty minutes of catchy tunes and jokes that fly faster than the tempo.

Coffey’s musical style is layered with a healthy gulp of blues and a shot of rock and roll; somewhere between Tom Waits and Ben Folds. An accomplished guitarist, Coffey is a self-taught pianist (though, it should be noted he’s actually been playing for years, and is very good). On Keys features less stand up and more keys, as Coffey tinkles his way through his set. Don’t read that the wrong way; the show serenades its audience with comedy as well as with music.

Well-versed in the magic of the loop pedal, Coffey repeats and alters musical refrains, harmonising with himself. These beats are both soulful and funny, the repetitions making them all the more memorable and all the more hilarious. Often, the music forms part of the joke set up, as Coffey entrances his audience with musical joy and then springs the joke on them. The material ranges from smoking to ghosts, and Coffey is laid back and comfortable performing it. The musical aspect makes for an original twist on the observational format, the humorous insights of the everyday neatly complemented by the songwriting. There’s nothing shocking or overly political in his approach, just well-crafted, well-paced and well-delivered jokes. It’s cheeky, charming and down-right catchy.


On Keys is on at 9:45pm at the Imperial Hotel until 22 April as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tickets are available at the box office and via the MICF website.


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