I was introduced to Luke McGregor’s work through his documentary series Luke Warm Sex, which aired on the ABC last year. The six-part show chronicled McGregor’s attempts to get “better at sex,” in a very public way. I suspect this would be stressful for most people – even admitting they need to get better at sex would be stressful for most people – but McGregor suffers, very openly, from social anxiety, which clearly didn’t make things any easier.
And yet, he made it through the series in one piece, and in fact a piece which is surprisingly comfortable talking about issues that other people would avoid. A significant theme of his Comedy Festival show, Almost Fixed It – “it” being his life – is his adjustment to actually having a girlfriend, and a regular sex life. Again, this seemed like a topic that very few people would actually want to discuss – our cultural relationships with states such as singleness and virginity don’t tend to encourage people to be very open. But McGregor seemed as comfortable with that as he was with anything else – so not very, but he managed. His physical presence speaks volumes about the anxiety he must be feeling, in the way he often touches his face or sighs at his own jokes. This could have felt like an affectation, but came across as charming instead, as a result of how obviously natural it was.
Along with his fabulous comic timing and warm, witty sense of humour, a large part of the appeal of McGregor’s act is how relatable much of it feels. He’s certainly an odd guy, but his oddities are of the sort that really speak to most people, that they can identify their own anxieties in. There were a number of points when he engaged the audience in these discussions of his strange behaviours, and while very few people shared his inability to sleep if a chair is facing the bed – “in case a ghost sits in it and watches me sleep” – anxieties over leaving cupboard doors open, or not having a sheet covering you, abounded. McGregor’s willingness to share his own issues allows audience members to look more directly at their own, and to feel less weird about them.
Even after seeing the show, it’s odd to think of it as radical – he’s strange and sweet and not at all the type one would imagine busting taboos in his comedy. But really, for McGregor to openly talk about the fact that he didn’t lose his virginity until 25, or to describe his experiences visiting a psychologist – it’s not something everyone would be willing to do, but is something that is desperately needed. This is the kind of comedy that makes people feel less alone, and it’s wonderful.