Charlie Pickering in AUTO

Wellington venues (all), Wellington

16/05/2006 - 20/05/2006

Production Details

Created by Charlie Pickering
Directed by Alan Brough

Charlie Pickering is about to help you re-discover the simple joy of a good story, with readings from his unpublished and as yet unlived autobiography.

Autobiographies are a relatively new invention. Since Augustine’s first ‘apologia’ of 400AD, they have evolved into big business.  Sporting heroes, politicians, artists, fashion designers, pop stars and hotel heiresses have all got into the act, so why not a comedian?

Edgy, polished and inventive, Charlie Pickering is one of the most exciting names in Australian comedy – and his publishers are banking on it.  Buoyed by recent overseas successes critical acclaim and a sizeable advance, Charlie is looking down the barrel of a deadline to get his life onto paper.  The publishers are on his back, the book launch date is set and Bert Newton has signed up to host.  If only he knew how to actually start the book.

Directed by New Zealander Alan Brough, Auto takes a light-hearted look at the wider implications of autobiographies and the culture they create.

Theatre , Comedy , Solo ,


A sweet, smooth man

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 23rd May 2006

Australia’s Charlie Pickering is a natural storyteller, a gifted raconteur, who delights in recounting tales from his deeply middle-class childhood and life experiences. His show Auto, about his inability to start his autobiography, is the perfect vehicle to do so.

Throughout the play, Charlie procrastinates at his desk, finding any distraction to avoid the task at hand. Ah – an audience – mmm that’ll do. Let’s chat. And so we do. He tells us about himself. It’s an interesting yarn: why he’s not a lawyer, the ins and outs of being a spaz, how he always managed to damage himself, even during quiet time at school, applying for law jobs, his parent’s expectations, his pet poodle…

It’s all interesting and very well told by this sweet, smooth man. Though occasionally he seemed to summarise and diagnose a situation in a very barrister-like fashion. Occupational hazard I guess, even though he ran from that occupation.

Directed by New Zealander Alan Brough, this is a slick, polished theatrical production, with smooth transitions: perfectly formed from beginning to end.

The useful device of BB King’s blues stylings, as a musical underlay, and then passages from his autobiography, work well, breaking up the recurring motif – Charlie sitting at his desk. Another diversion tactic was possible titles for the much-anticipated book, presented as enlarged core-flute proto-types. "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, I’m from a middle class background", proclaimed one.

BB King also provides some of the most memorable – though grotesque – material of the evening. I might just have to buy BB’s autobiography, just to make sure Charlie wasn’t embellishing the story of the swollen pustules penis, or BB’s thoughts on lipstick and parties. It’s … quite revolting. The blues will never be the same.
Charlie’s characterisations are extremely good.  The head master morphing into a pesky crow and his Scottish deputy with anger management issues are both highlights.

I really enjoyed Charlie’s seamless chat – it was informative, witty and engaging…(I especially liked his musings on Goggle, exposing blasé behaviour for what it really is and how, as a young lad, he thought hard-core porn just looked disorganised). However, I also found parts of the evening slightly predictable… and, well, slight. But Charlie really is a lovely man to spend an hour with and I would recommend that you do.


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Comedy as a desk job

Review by John Smythe 17th May 2006

Style-wise, despite being from Melbourne too – the undisputed crucible of Australian comedy – Charlie Pickering could not be more different than The 4 Noels. His show AUTO in fully scripted and neatly staged with narry a whiff of audience interaction or spontaneity.

That said, it’s a well-conceived set piece delivered by a young man – a boy most of the time – who makes no apology for his good middle-class education, although he plunders it mercilessly for material.

The premise is that he’s trying to write his authorised autobiography (having attempted an unauthorised one) and he can’t get started. But his chat between taps and urgent backspace deletes on his desktop laptop pretty well covers his twenty-something years of life to date.

The irony is he avoided a career in law because he didn’t want a desk job and for almost all the show  he sits at a table trying to write – and chatting to us, with the help of a head mic and some judiciously placed pre-recordings.

Four drawings adorn the back wall and as the tale proceeds we come to understand why a knight’s castile is labelled ‘poodle’, a raven ‘headmaster’, a sticky-tape dispenser ‘snail’ and a sausage dog ‘fast bowler’.

Character acting and voices are Pickering’s strong suit, well served by an easy way with words which, while they’d work as well on the page as the stage, paint vivid pictures of family and school life with insight, humour and humanity.

With most of his life still ahead of him, we can only look forward to what he’ll produce in the years to come.


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