Watching the footy in a bar on a Friday night with good company is a delightful prospect for many Melburnians. So the boys at Footy Couch set themselves a difficult task when attempting to make the experience more enjoyable.
To their credit, they most certainly manage. With the football playing on a large screen, two members of Footy Couch provide a unique commentary style while two more roam the crowd, occasionally interjecting to crack a few jokes of their own. This is most definitely an alternative to standard sporting commentary. Many of the jokes are unapologetically crass and an impressive array of puns and player nicknames are delivered at breakneck speed.
However, the team is at its best when ad-libbing. A highlight of the night was when a crowd member mentioned his French background, prompting jokes ranging from James Hird’s Parisian study trip/punishment to a ‘peloton’ forming on the wing.
Not all of the comments are footy based. Quirky sound bites allowed the team to venture into political territory, giving the show a more rounded feel. Nevertheless, the hero of the night was the football and when the match reached an incredible climax, the jokes were given an appropriate back seat as the on-field action took a stranglehold on the room. This did not stop some of the better moments coming from some of the blatantly (and as the match teetered, increasingly) partisan commentary, a possible dig at mainstream commentators who struggle to hide their colours.
Keeping an audience occupied for the duration of an AFL match – well over two hours – poses problems most comedians delivering one hour sets could only imagine. Inevitably, some lulls occurred but the boys did well to poke fun at themselves and this generally got the crowd rolling once more.
The four members of Footy Couch do well to give the impression of being your mates. The atmosphere is relaxed and banter is encouraged. This matters, because the appeal of the show is that they are simply doing what many of us do anyway – sit on the couch, watching the footy with friends, making wisecracks. The only difference is that these boys are better. Their football knowledge is prodigious and their jokes are generally more polished. This show might not be for everyone, but if you feel like adding a little spice to your AFL viewing experience, it certainly makes for a fun night out.