DON’T be put off by Ben Lomas’ oversized bicycle helmet in the Vicious Cycle. By the end of the night, you might find yourself rather fond of the lycra-hating comedian, as James Shackell did.
If you see Ben Lomas riding his bike around the city, here are a few things not to do: hit him with your car (he hates that); wear lycra when you are wider than you are tall (he hates that too); walk obliviously in bike lanes (especially if you are a hipster). All of these things could earn you a spot on Lomas’ list of pet cycling peeves, a list which forms the bulk of a very entertaining hour of comedy.
I’ll admit it, my expectations weren’t high when the man himself walked out on stage wearing an oversized novelty bicycle helmet. Giant props are not usually indicative of a show rich in subtlety. But, sure enough, Lomas won me over in the end. Apart from anything else, he’s just a likeable guy. By the end of the night, the packed house at Softbelly Bar either wanted to give him a hug or buy him a beer. Sweaty, bearded, and with a grin a mile wide, he looks a bit like Kenny, and his humour reinforces the parallel: a mix of dry observation, larrikin anecdotes and perfect comedic timing.
Lomas manages to get good mileage from the bicycle theme, pedalling (literally) through bike-stealing stories in Amsterdam, cycling etiquette, what do to if you see a cow, and the now extinct ‘Round-a-Bout of Death’ that used to sit at the top of Elizabeth Street. The style is pretty conventional, with most topics introduced by the old chestnut: “You know, my favourite thing about X is…” But don’t let that put you off. The delivery is superb. Lomas, who has been around the traps since 2004, is on top of his game, and he works the large crowd well, handing out helmets to those close to the stage at the start of the show. Safety first.
It’s always a nice surprise when a show proves you wrong. I shouldn’t have doubted Lomas. Just like Kenny, he is the underdog you root for, and watching him pedal his exercise bike, U2’s Beautiful Day blaring out over the crowd, I can’t help but get swept along in the fun of it all.
He might just be the cure for cynicism. See Ben Lomas before he rides off into the sunset.
Catch Ben Lomas – The Vicious Cycle from Tuesdays to Saturdays till April 21 at the Softbelly Bar, 367 Little Bourke St, Melbourne. Tickets range from $15 to $20. To book, or for more details, visit the Melbourne International Comedy Festival website.