Taylor Edwards and Chris Martin: Undercover Festival Cops
Arrested Comedy Development
‘Undercover Festival Cops’ is a narrative based hour that struggles to garner laughs due to weak performances and inconsistent material. Although the two comedians, Taylor Edwards and Chris Martin, are obviously having a good time with their bizarre tale, their enthusiasm alone is not enough to recommend a ticket purchase.
The title of the show is fairly self-explanatory, as two fictional Brisbane police officers go undercover as comedians in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. In other words, the whole farce is comedians pretending to be cops who are pretending to be comedians in order to catch a fellow comedian, Tom Gleeson, dealing drugs. The rest of the performance is equally as absurd as that synopsis, with the duo jumping sporadically from the sketches in their comedy show within a comedy show, ‘Not Cops’, to their drug investigation. Some of their sketches are redeemable however, with the ‘Melbourne culture troll’ being a novel piece of observational comedy, yet these moments are rare. Generally, Edwards and Martin’s humour offers little insight, being mostly sub-par and predictable. The humour is also reflective of the ‘Undercover Festival Cops’s anti-climactic conclusion, which doesn’t include Tom Gleeson, but a pillow with a face drawn on it instead. This is truly unfortunate, due to the fact that Martin has serious comical potential, but it is just not explored thoroughly enough in ‘Undercover Festival Cops’. Edwards, on the other hand, likely doesn’t have the acting ability to tell an effective and humorous story. There is no doubt she has comedic talents, but her constant smile and over-the-top performance detract more from the entertainment then they benefit it.
‘Undercover Festival Cops’ is the humour and style of a kids show, but with an adult subject matter. It’s silly, ridiculous and not entertaining enough to contend with the other comical narratives at this year’s festival.
★★ (2 Stars)
Taylor Edwards and Chris Martin’s ‘Undercover Festival Cops’ is on at the Tasma Terrace until the 23rd of April, tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
Liam Ryan: Well that’s Disappointing
By Nick Bugeja
Liam Ryan is a comedian who is much too hard on himself. His show, named Well that’s Disappointing, is in fact a pleasantly comedic one. Even though he is only billed as a warm up act for the performance (which we know is a fiction), Ryan makes the most of his 50 minutes on stage, delivering us a good deal of witticisms and ridiculous stories to bite on. In a time where there are myriad comedians who rely only on expletives and grimy subject matter, Ryan’s performance is refreshing. And he should give himself credit for that.
It becomes apparent pretty quickly that Ryan is an anxious, nervous kind of character – he jiggles around the stage, speaks at an unusually fast pace and sweats profusely – and we get the sense that half of this is deliberately done for effect, and the other a natural trait. The most obvious instance of this was when Ryan accidentally joked about his mother’s death. His mother isn’t dead and it seemed like he didn’t do so on purpose. Nonetheless, he moved with the joke, maximising its laugh-inducing effect and referencing it a couple of times after.
Ryan’s show seems to be informed by his neuroticism, as he runs through his jokes and stories at a remarkably fast pace, leaving us with very little comedic respite. Ryan’s speed of delivery often enhances his comedy, but at times can feel rushed and disordered. This issue was most evident in his introductory material, and subsided once he got into the meat of the performance. The story of Ryan’s job as a bartender in Britain was one such story expressed with impressive delivery (aided by the fact that the story related to a faeces debacle).
There is a nice balance between scripted, physical performance and improvised, spontaneous comedy in Ryan’s show. We never feel that he is too reliant on one mode of comedy, and the interactivity of improv and prepared material was an immensely enjoyable feature of the show. It is an encouraging sign for Ryan himself.
Preview performances are where comedians hone their jokes, and investigate what content works and what doesn’t. In light of this, there were a few moments that Ryan will learn from for sake of his run, but they barely detracted from his comedic skill. Ryan even reminded us at the end of the fact that it was merely a preview – as an explanation for his imperfections. But we needed no such apology, Ryan provided an entertaining, worthwhile night of comedy.
★★★ ½ (3½ Stars)
Liam Ryan’s Well that’s Disappointing is showing at The Upstairs Lounge @ Little Sista until April 23. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
Late Night Letters and Numbers
No Legs to Stand On
By Dylan Marshall
‘Late Night Letters and Numbers’ is a show for fans of the television series, but not so much for fans of comedy. It has been described as “stand-up sitting down” and although it successfully tests the minds of the audience, it subsequently fails to generate many stitches in their sides. Such a result is mostly due to the comedians on the panel, which differ from night to night. However, the ensemble that filled last Monday’s performance, although competent comedians in their own right, did not have sufficient chemistry to sustain a consistent hour of hilarity.
For those not familiar with the concept of the show, Letters and Numbers was a series that ran on SBS from 2010-2012. The game involves a host, two competitors who try and best each other in different challenges, dictionary checkers and a scribe who facilitates the game information. The first round involves letters, in which competitors pick consonants and vowels and try and make the largest word they can from the nine randomised letters they are given. The second round unsurprisingly involves numbers, where the contestants attempt to get as close to a target number (between 100 and 999) with the random numbers they are provided and their basic skills in arithmetic. The game elements themselves are quite engaging, with the host involving the audience nearly just as much as the participants on stage. Part of the performance’s entertainment is racing to figure out an anagram faster, or construct a better solution to the math problem, then the guests.
The panel themselves stumbled on the challenges just as much as they stumbled on their comedy, with their greatest moments being too few and far between to add any merit to the proceedings. The two competitors, Alice Fraser and Laura Davis tried their best to pair funny quips with their comical incompetence in the rounds, but these had varying success with the audience and often felt out of place. On the opposite side of the stage, the dictionary moderators, Laurence Leung and Andrew McLelland, made some hilarious observations, with many of them being comedic highlights for the show. However, the duo was not given much time to include their inputs, with their potential being mostly underutilised. Yianni Agisilaou (‘The Un-Pinchable Pink Pen’) was the scribe for the challenge elements of ‘Letters and Numbers’ and was equally unmined for his comedic gold. Pulling this fairly large ensemble together, keeping the show on track and incorporating his own witticisms periodically was the host, Nick Caddaye. His comedic moments were subtle, but effective and he tied the show together nicely.
‘Late Night Letters and Numbers’ is about as comically predictable as the numbers and letters that compile its title, where the only thing you can rely upon is the game show elements themselves. It is difficult to recommend to people who aren’t already fans of the television show or intriguing puzzles, however a structured hour of comedy with six comedians may just be worth the ticket price.
★★½ (2½ Stars)
The final performance of ‘Late Night Letters and Numbers’ is on at the Town Hall this Monday (the 17th), tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
Josh Glanc: Manfül
By Christian Blackwell
Josh Glanc’s Manfül was joyously inappropriate, but a truthfully shrouded in caricature and satire about what a ‘real man’ looks like.
Glanc’s ebullient attitude, with the use of harmonious music made the crowd feel right at home; the intimate affair created within the theatre was a laugh riot from the outset.
It didn’t take long for the crowd to feel uncomfortable though, with his use of salacious pictures of genitalia. His use of props was hilarious and at times the room was deafenedby his buffoon-like antics.
Dickey Rosenthal (Glanc’s character) has an obsession to turning dweebs into ‘real men’ and with the use of Rosenthal’s protein powder, Manfül, and eggs without “yolks”. Glanc takes a quite personable approach, using the audience as a touch and go prop. Glanc’s slapstick comedy reminds us of an early Chaplin.
Rosenthal repeatedly demonstrates that a ‘real man’ must not cry and has to be tough and disciplined in what they eat. “Real men don’t listen to recommendations.” Real men only concern themselves with the size of their biceps, and the process by which one achieves a ripped physique.
A lot of the show passes without Glanc actually speaking, but rather dancing, tensing and posing. Glanc’s physical comedy often provokes in us laughter, and at the other times, quite intentionally, Glanc forces angst and discomfort onto us by staring, standing in silence. We are forced to consider the ridiculousness of hyper-masculine expectations in our society.
The final sequence of the performance is the most hilarious and most poignant. Without spoiling it, Glanc pulls off a finale that makes us question and repudiate masculine ideals by making us sympathise with Rosenthal, who now appears even more pathetic and sympathetically pitiful than before.
The hour long show felt like 30 minutes. An incredibly impressionable and humorous performance, one of the must-see shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this year.
★★★★ ½ (4½ Stars)
Josh Glanc’s Manfül Is showing until the 23rd of April at ACMI.
Tom Walker: Bee Boo
This is Not Normal
By Dylan Marshall
Tom Walker’s hour of comedy makes about as much sense as eating a sock, and yet it still exists and surprisingly it is hilarious for some. Walker’s approach to his craft is controversial, confrontational and just plain crazy, so much so that he proudly records each of the walkouts he has received from his shows on a piece of cardboard next to the stage. At last night’s performance he had to add two more to that table, for what can imagine are justifiable reasons for those who left the performance early. The words one would use to describe ‘Bee Boo’ would be ‘interesting’ and ‘unique’, which to one person could be the polite way of saying it was shit and to another, just an honest opinion of what they just saw.
Surrounded by a stage full of unorganised props and bits of cardboard, Walker jumps around frantically, reaching for the closest item to garner a laugh, whether it be an invisible bowl, the hook of revealing or a multitude of toy babies. If there is supposed to be a structure to this series of events, it is undoubtedly lost in the fever dream which is ‘Bee Boo’ (even the title adds to the confusion). Although prop-based comedy is somewhat of a forgotten art in this years Festival, Walker brings it back with unyielding conviction, completely and utterly unapologetic about every aspect of his show. If you were hoping for an act similar to his recent work on the Australian version of ‘Whose Line Is it Anyway?’ you will likely be disappointed with his show, because Walker is offering his audiences something new; for better or worse.
To attempt to explain or review a piece like this seems arbitrary due to the pure subjectiveness of the humour Walker provides. There will be no distinguishable or popular opinion in regards to this show, perhaps leaving it open for the audience to decide on their own. For me, many of Walker’s jokes fell flat, but for you, this could be the greatest hour of entertainment you have witnessed in your life and due to the sheer experimentation and innovation Walker showcases, seeing it is likely worth the risk.
★★½ (2½ Stars)
Tom Walker’s ‘Bee Boo’ is on at the Victoria Hotel until the 23rd of April, tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
T Minus Theatre: ‘Jamie and the Asynchronous Temporal Atomic Reverberator’
The Launch of a Bright Future
‘Jamie and the Asynchronous Temporal Atomic Reverberator’ (or ‘Jamie and the ATAR’) is an ambitious project. It is the first show presented by T Minus Theatre, a company formed by past members of the Monash University student theatre, and it is not only an original musical (a rarity in the amateur theatre scene), but a piece about time travel (a concept equally uncommon within the medium). It is a bold move, and with a colourful cast of humorous and musically talented individuals, the young blooded theatre company launches their brand with a brilliant show, that establishes their potential and brings a fresh, new perspective to the genre of comedy.
The performance follows Jamie, a successful VCE student attempting to figure out the future by deciding on their all-important preferences. Luckily, they have some help, as Jamie is visited by time-travelling, future versions of themselves, which vary depending on which academic area they choose to pursue. Explaining most of the scientific theory through comparisons to popular time bending films, T Minus do not focus on the conceptual complexities, but instead shine the spotlight on the entertaining insanity of Jamie’s future versions interacting with each other. Here, the terrific performances of the ensemble truly raise the musical to new heights, as the show’s greatest moments of hilarity occur during their exchanges, from Fraser Mitchell’s frantic and panicked physicist to the consistently comical arts student, played by Doug Rintoul. Natalie Speechley’s Jamie persona is refined and powerful, Lucy Rosenblum’s is bubbly and a great contrast to the other versions, while Jesse Thomas’ has the most poignant and effective monologue in the entire show. Furthermore, Amy Tran in the titular role was relatable and down to earth, void of any archetypes that restrict the flexibility of the other characters, allowing her to effortlessly combine these differing personalities with her unmatched enthusiasm. When the ensemble and writing are put centre stage, ‘Jamie and the ATAR’ rivals, and in some cases surpasses, a majority of the other offerings at this year’s festival, making for an unmissable audience experience. The musical numbers, however, are not as memorable as the Whedonist dialogue; they offer effective establishment of character, but are mostly forgettable, with the exception of ‘All the Time in the World’ and ‘The Swing’, which is accompanied by an unexpected, but welcomed tap solo.
T Minus Theatre’s debut show is no farce; it is pertinent piece of comedy theatre that is focused on a specific message, one that needs to be told not only to high school students, but anyone who doesn’t quite know what they are doing with their life. ‘Jamie and the ATAR’ is a show that gives its audience hope; hope for their own futures and hope for the next generation of industry-defining comedians.
★★★★ ½ (4½ Stars)
T-Minus Theatre’s ‘Jamie and the ATAR’ is on at The Metanoia Theatre until the 20th of April (On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays), tickets are available through Trybooking.
Jeff Green: Honestly
By Nick Bugeja
As soon as Jeff Green jumped out from behind the curtains, there was an anticipatory sense in which the audience was in for a night filled with laughter. It was clear just from Jeff’s entrance that he was a comic who had mastered the form of stand-up comedy: his jumpy, enthusiastic gait was paralleled by a calmness that only comes with experience.
It didn’t take Jeff long to fire up the crowd. His warm-up jokes, accompanied by a witty retort to an English heckler (“You’re ruining our reputation for everyone”), were an apt kick-starter to a memorable performance. Similarly, his seemingly boundless energy displayed a genuine hunger for the craft of comedy – thereby enhancing our own experience.
As an Englishman, dressed in a pleasant shirt and a tie, one would be led to expect a proper, modest performance from Green. But to assume that would be way off the mark, as Green gleefully told the audience stories of his newborn son’s diarrhoea on the London Eye, his dog licking inside his mouth and the curiousness of underpants on the street in St Kilda.
These low-brow – but effective – jokes were nicely balanced with longer, elongated stories of personal successes, troubles, and failures. Green told us of his sometimes failing career; when he performed in Germany to a crowd who couldn’t speak English, and something else related to the popular TV show Curb Your Enthusiasm, which I shall not spoil. It takes a great comedic courage to admit fault and acknowledge failure, and Green’s more personal stuff makes us relate to him and his comedy in a way most comics cannot. Perhaps the most courageous part of Green’s performance was his discussion of his wife’s issues post-pregnancy. No matter how serious the undercurrent of his stories were, Green was invariably able to provoke wild laughter in the audience.
Even when his jokes didn’t receive the response he was after, Green was able to get his show back ‘on-track’ by shouting an expletive or mocking his own jokes. His ability to rejuvenate the show whenever it was dipping in intensity (which was rare) was a potent reminder of his masterful grip over comedic performance.
Jeff Green’s show Honestly would have to be one the finest at this year’s Comedy Festival. Any failures he might have experienced in the past appear to be long gone – as his every day, family-orientated comedy helps us to find humour and meaning in the mundane.
★★★★ ½ (4.5 stars)
Jeff Green’s Honestly is showing nightly until April 23 at the Greek Centre. Tickets are available through ticketmaster.
Zach and Viggo: ‘Thunderflop!’
The Absurdist Humour You’ve Been Looking For?
By Dylan Marshall
Half way through the performance of Zach and Viggo’s ‘Thundeflop!’ the audience member behind me verbally whispered under his breath, “what the fuck is going on?” That man’s sentiment is probably the most accurate synopsis a show like this could ask for, it perfectly summates their type of humour, their non-linear sketch comedy format and their love for the absurd.
‘Thunderflop’ is a culmination of bizarre and ridiculous physical sketches that cover everything from a recurring magician, a realistic swim in the ocean and a musical mouse’s love for cheese. Full of trumpet solos, way to close for comfort audience participation and rigorous dance numbers, this show does not have something for everyone, in fact it mainly appeals to one type of humour, which is perhaps the show’s greatest shortcoming. The humour of Zach and Viggo is very subjective, it could have you laughing outlandishly for an hour straight or it could have you physically stating ‘what the fuck is going on’. Saying that, some of their scenes are stronger then others, with even the purest of stand-up fans likely being won over by the duo’s infectious charm. It is in these highlights, like the aforementioned ocean adventure, that the pair truly shines, resulting in thunderous laughter from the audience. However, not all their skits hit home, with some causing only confused brows and weird glances, as they continue their longwinded piece to reach their punch line, in what can only be described as a ‘flop’.
The duo themselves, Zach and Viggo, are exceptional; their enthusiastic energy is naturally contagious, as they bounce sporadically around the stage. Their chemistry and partnership is truly wondrous, with Zach’s witty, flirtatious character perfectly complimenting Viggo’s cheeky, over-the-top persona. The two constantly mess with each other throughout the hour, building more and more laughs onto already solid sketches. It is obvious that the two are having a great time, which is something so genuine; it can’t help but make you smile too. The only thing that let’s these two terrific performers down is just some of their material.
That’s how their show is though, genius one second and perhaps nearly too absurd the next, but maybe that’s the type of comedy you find the most appealing and have been searching hysterically for in the official festival guide. In which case, I would implore you to see this show, because it may not tickle everyone’s funny bone, but when it does, it tickles tirelessly, frantically and passionately, all with a manic grin on its face.
★★★ ½ (3½ Stars)
Zach and Viggo’s ‘Thunderflop’ is on at The Tuxedo Cat until the 23rd of April (Excluding Wednesdays), tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
Michael Shafar’s Jewish-ish
By Christian Blackwell
Michael Shafar’s Jewish-ish instantly points out that he is Jewish. His witty comedy on everyday terms is designed not only for Jewish people but “gentiles”. He has the audience engorged in his happy go lucky attitude.
A local Caulfield boy with a strong knowledge in chess and being a quintessential nerd, he makes full use of his 55 minutes on stage. Unlike most Jewish boys who grow up with 3 options: “lawyer, accountant or doctor”: Shafar found love for comedy.
Shafar is a a Monash alumni and is clearly up to date with the cultural innuendo in Australia. He made shockingly funny comparisons between the Apex gang and Bronwyn bishop. However, most of his comedy centres around Jewish custom. For a Jewish audience, Shafar’s comedy may be eye-opening, and for a non-Jewish audience it might be funny and enlightening. And his whole act isn’t merely derisory towards Jewish people, often times it is debunking and clarifying misconceptions held about Jewish people.
From time to time Shafar was lost for words, yet he still showed poise in redeeming himself using the phrase ‘thanks for coming’ on a few occasions. Even when his joke didn’t receive what he was after, he made laughter appear out of his own self-induced embarrassment.
For the most part, Shafar’s comedy is great to watch. He definitely has potential in the art of comedy but is still a little rusty around the edges, but experience will alleviate this.
★★★★ (4 Stars)
Michael Shafar’s Jewish-ish is showing at Trades Hall until 23rd of April.
Gillian Cosgriff: 8 Songs in 8 Weeks
A Blissful Hour of Musical Comedy
By Dylan Marshall
Gillian Cosgriff’s ‘8 Songs in 8 Weeks’ indulges its audience into the mind of Cosgriff herself; a cheerful, musical and delightful place filled with random night thoughts, creative rhymes and a lot of interesting information from the internet. Her upbeat melodies take you through a variety of subject matters, from a regular lady’s night at a club to the life of an enigmatic figure named Felecia Cocoa.
The show’s concept is simple enough, as Cosgriff sings eight songs that she wrote in an eight week period, with intervals in between where she explains the inspiration and the mindset behind each piece. Not only that, but Cosgriff also writes an extra song during the show, based on a suggestion given to her by the audience. Each and every part of the show is hilarious and jam-packed with Cosgriff’s comedic and musical talents. Her stand-up moments between each number are solid enough to support a whole show simply on their own, but Cosgriff also showcases her lyrical abilities prominently throughout the hour, adding her bubbly persona to another sub-genre of comedy. The songs themselves are compelling, honest and bound to leave you in stitches, with some of the highlights being her ballad to ‘December 23rd’ and her final number about the blissfulness of ignorance (or just closing your eyes, putting your fingers in your ears and yelling “NA, NA, NA, NA!”).
Although Cosgriff’s eight songs aren’t sharing anything particular insightful or providing pertinent social commentary, they do make for one fun hour of musical comedy that you would be truly ignorant to miss.
★★★★ (4 Stars)
Gillian Cosgriff’s ‘8 Songs in 8 Weeks’ is on at The Butterfly Club for only a few more nights, so book your tickets now through The Butterfly Club Website.
Yianni Agisilaou: ‘The Un-Pinchable Pink Pen’
Pink Pen Rewrites Comedic History
By Dylan Marshall
Yianni Agisilaou knows how to do comedy. His show is almost flawless, transitioning smoothly from one hilarious joke to another, whilst also retaining eagle eye focus on the show’s major concern; gender roles. Yianni perfectly frames this discussion by saying, “I was staggered by a friend telling me she deliberately buys pink pens as it stops men from stealing them”. What follows is an hour of sidesplitting entertainment where Yianni playfully constructs comedy around profound and pressing issues like ‘what does it mean to be a man’, ‘does our gender define us’ and ‘why was Titanic a historically inept film’? His comedy could be likened to a wrecking ball that breaks down walls of expectation and prejudice. By deconstructing these defensive measures, Yianni opens his audience up to progressive thought, slowly constructing a new belief of acceptance and appreciation throughout the whole show, climaxing in a personal confession that seems outlandish, but is inherently justified and permissible within the show’s context.
Yianni’s success in this regard is a result of one thing, ‘perspective’. Comedians offer a very unique perspective on their world; they are able to create hilarious fantasies from the most mundane of human tasks. Yianni offers his outlook on many of the “preposterous rules, double standards and expectations society lumps on us depending on which bits we’re born with.”
Yet Yianni’s perspective is more insightful then that; it is a perspective that is both refreshing and eye opening for those who experience it. It is an approach that culminates in countless epiphanies within the audience, as they bend over in laughter, perhaps not even realising the shift in viewpoint they are experiencing themselves. The show’s final comment is suitably therefore not a hilarious witticism, but a well-deserved address to the audience to simply consider what has been discussed and how it affects how they regard the world.
So often comedy is a showcasing of ideas and outlooks that are humorous to a given audience, but there are the rare shows that go further, questioning preexisting social values and critically evaluating common held beliefs through the framework of these outlooks. Through research, experience and unprecedented comedic skill, Yianni provides his audience with this perspective, whilst also producing an hour of exceptional comedy. ‘The Un-Pinchable Pink Pen’ is a brilliant show and a master class in concentrated comedy; it should not be missed.
★★★★★ (5 stars)
Yianni Agisilaou’s ‘The Un-Pinchable Pink Pen’ is on at Trades Hall from the 30th of March to the 23rd of April, tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
Khaled Khalafalla: ‘Loose’
Potential Let Loose
By Dylan Marshall
Khaled Khalafalla was named the next “huge, mainstream star” by The Age, but he is still yet to live up to this title. Khalafalla is a man refining his craft, finding his feet and mixing up his material minute by minute on stage. When you compare Khalafalla to a more seasoned professional he struggles to compete, but the man has a way about comedy that is undeniably impressive. Call it charisma, call it charm, but Khalafalla has the capability to smile away a heckler or fumble his way through a transition that still makes you laugh. Perhaps this is why he has been labeled ‘the next big thing’ because with better and more profound material he could utilise his preexisting presence to create a riveting and undoubtedly hilarious performance.
The title of his show, ‘Loose’, probably best summates this style, both offering a fresh flow to his work, but also providing awkward moments where Khalafalla himself admits he has no idea what is going on. Such an approach also requires an ability to reshuffle various anecdotes on the fly, something not all comedians can do, as they religiously stick to their prepared scripts. Khalafalla thereby combats this by using the audience as inspiration, almost bouncing off them as energetically as he bounces around the stage, asking them questions and using their responses to relate to whatever amusing narrative he has equipped to his comedic utility belt. These tales vary a relative amount from discussions of history (the comical construction of the Taj Mahal), family drama (a hilarious story about his family interrupting an important film audition) and the interior design of Indian restaurants (and how they are so often trying to do “too much”). Although he branches out regularly, Khalafalla often sticks around the themes of race and heritage, justifying many of these humorous anecdotes by stating, “now is the time to joke about these things”, and that is undoubtedly true.
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival has come at the perfect time where social and political tensions are at an all time high, supplying some much needed escapism and smiles. Khalafalla may not be the best form of escapism offered at these festivities, but his charming smile and easy-going attitude towards comedy will, no doubt, leave you smiling too.
★★★ (3 Stars)
Khaled Khalafalla’s ‘Loose’ is on at Trades Hall until the 23rd of April (Excluding Wednesdays), tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
‘The Lost Lost Lost Cabaret’
Get Lost in the Madness
By Dylan Marshall
‘The Lost Lost Lost Cabaret’ is a variety show that begins with a woman appearing on stage with a dress (made of pots, pans, drainers and utensils), ridiculously high, sparkly heels and a cheeky, red grin. Following the immaculate entrance of the hostess, Sharnema Nougar, an audience member is pulled up on stage to help take part in the ‘ritual’ that opens the Cabaret. This ‘ritual’ involves the participant jumping over the co-host, Pinky-Von-Sox (who wears nothing but a metallic funnel over his genitalia for most of the show), and then proudly exclaiming, “I am ready to experience new things!” Thus, completes your introduction to ‘The Lost Lost Lost Cabaret’, hosted by a woman who uses tongs instead of hands for the entirety of the show and a man who is almost naked in a variety of costumes, but can undoubtedly shred a guitar.
The interludes of the two hosts in between acts get increasingly more bizarre throughout the performance, from a song about the over industrialization of the Amazon rainforest, to the final sing-along where the hostess removes her kitchen ware completely, revealing the two spoons that cover her nipples and a metallic scrub that blocks her crotch. Nougar’s unbroken enthusiasm and delight during the whole hour is infectious and dazzlingly unique, with her performance being one of the highlights of the rollercoaster ride which is the cabaret. Her co-host plays the role of a dim witted, comic relief character, similar to his namesake from the show ‘Pinky and the Brain’, and, for the most part, is entertaining.
The acts for this performance included Ex-MUSTers ‘Pink Flappy Bits’, American comedian Eve Ellenbogen and rapping, pun-master Jared Jekyll. The three performances offered great variety with ‘Pink Flappy Bits’ performing a hilarious song about inadequate penises, Ellenbogen offering humorous stand-up about the some of the difficulties faced by women and Jekyll indulging in an outlandish rap about having a flashlight for a dick. All of these concepts are fairly out there in terms of subject matter, but one should expect this of a 10pm cabaret show at an envelope-pushing venue like ‘The Butterfly Club’.
‘The Lost Lost Lost Cabaret’ sounds like an intimidating experience, but that would discredit the sheer wonder and absurdity presented at this show. It is a wholly distinctive experience that provides a peek behind the curtain into a more exciting and adventurous genre of comedy theatre. It obviously is not a show for everyone, but if you are looking for a bit of variety in your festival-going journey and are “ready to experience new things” then this is a performance you should welcome with open arms.
★★★ (3 Stars)
‘The Lost Lost Lost Cabaret’ is on at The Butterfly Club for one more night (Sunday 2nd of April), tickets are available through The Butterfly Club website.
Pink Flappy Bits’ ‘The Flappaganza’ is also on at The Butterfly Club from April 3rd to April 9th, tickets are available through The Butterfly Club website.
Eve Ellenbogen’s ‘Don’t Get Mad At Me’ is on at Trades Hall until the 9th of April, tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
Jared Jekyll’s ‘Young, Dumb and Full of Pun’ is on at the Victoria Hotel until April 23rd, tickets are available through Ticketmaster
Watson: ‘Go To Hell!’
A Hell of a Show
By Dylan Marshall
Comedy is, at its core, confined by codes and conventions of the genre. It is so often restricted to a fixed perspective that, at its best, it can leave an audience comfortably laughing in their seats, whilst also questioning their own views on the world. The trio that make up Watson; Adam McKenzie, Tegan Higginbotham and Liam Ryan, don’t limit themselves to this restriction though. By incorporating elements of surprisingly effective horror, Watson create an experience unlike any offered by over 600 shows at the comedy festival, pinning audiences to the edges of their seats.
Horror is an effective, but criminally underutilised, genre in live performance. It places you in the same room as the terror being experienced by the actors, without the protection of a screen or book. It is often difficult to develop such an atmosphere of apprehension when you are placed within the safety of a crowd, but Watson bypass this potential hurdle through the sheer variety of different scares, supported greatly by the incredible sound and lighting design. The trio do not limit themselves to jump scares, but construct drawn out moments of fear, entirely aware that one of the most effective elements of horror might not be the scare itself, but the build up to one. Layering this unnerving soundscape and perfect use of horror onto a comedy show seems equally difficult to pull off, but Watson tread the line between the two so perfectly that their performances will have you laughing joyously one minute and then laughing nervously the next. The levity of the comedy may lower the tension in some areas, but it provides perfect contrast to the most effective points in the show, almost escalating the fearfulness in comparison to previous scenes.
Watson frame these moments of hilarious horror around personal stories of terror; exploring their own phobias, as well as the fears of the audience. All of this is justified by McKenzie’s reasoning that he can make you “never be fearful again, but first you have to be scared; so scared that you shit yourself.” It is at this stage in the play that you would think that Watson are throwing in frights for the sake of it, a trap that many horror comedies fall into. Yet this isn’t what happens. By the end of the rollercoaster ride, which is their hour of entertainment, they are able to do something that grounds the horror, justifying it; making it feel real, potent and all the more powerful. It’s the type of climax that mixes another allegorical shot into their already perfect cocktail.
Amidst the countless homages to classic horror, the mystery of a hidden secret and the comedy genius of all three, Watson seem to continue to offer their audiences more. Whether it is more jumps, more laughs or more shit in your pants, their show only builds; reaching an unyielding crescendo that will certainly leave its mark.
★★★★★ (5 Stars)
Watson’s ‘Go to Hell’ is on at The Malthouse Theatre until the 23rd of April (Excluding Mondays), tickets are available through Ticketmaster.