Review: Pete Johansson – Utopian Crack Pipe, Underbelly Bristo Square (Venue 300)

There are some brilliant 
stand-up routines in this latest show from Pete Johansson. And he comes so close to reconciling his abiding love of bears with a satisfying, thematically sound hour.

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From a daft, initial premise that the British police would be better equipped for riots if they were accompanied by the carnivores, the Canadian spins a series of whimsical set-ups, and some aggressively funny material around them. The best, on racism and the hunting of these beautiful, endangered creatures for libido-enhancing alternative medicines, which prompts an inquiry about human equality, are characteristic of a comic who’s as insightful a cultural observer as he is an assured storyteller.

There’s a memorable glimpse into his mother’s cub-rearing, responding to the discovery of his porn stash by making him examine every photograph in minute detail, preventing him from objectifying women, plus his model wife’s dalliance with the adult business, initiating another great tale. But despite Johansson’s self-awareness and a heart-rending conclusion, the ursine obsession is too often overplayed, needlessly weighing down material that would be lither without it.

Until 27 August. Today 8:40pm.