Getting behind the scenes of the comedy circuit
By Myron My
Death of a Comedian by Fred Rowan is a privileged view into the green room of a local comedy club as a group of comedians warm up for their show, but it might as well be a group of patients in the waiting room of a medical centre awaiting test results. As the performers wait backstage we witness their tension and anxieties, and as they return from the stage we wait with dread to see if they “killed it or were killed”.
The whole amusing performance takes place over the course of this one night in the green room. The set design was very realistic in depicting what the back room of a pub looks like, and some great stage lighting involved having the comedian who was giving their set take centre stage while the rest of the cast remained in the background of the green room, thus allowing the two worlds to combine yet remaining visually separate.
Jeremy Kewley was brilliant as Graham Dempster, the organizer of the event raising funds for a hospital. His energy and endearingly annoying character were well received by the audience. Kevin Summers as a comedian desperate for a comeback, Johnny Mazing, was reminiscent of the fear we all have of not wanting to be forgotten and trying to hold onto our past. Although it took him a while to settle into his character, the audience was firmly on his side by the end. Believing in a few of the other performers was sometimes a struggle however: it felt like I was watching comedians acting and not actors being comedians.
There was some sharp dialogue and at times this reminded me of the backstage shenanigans that go on during something like Noises Off! which allowed Death of a Comedian to bring home the laughs. I think cutting ten minutes from the show would have created a much cleaner show and the ending, whilst trying to bring in some poignancy, needed editing too as it seemed to go on that little bit too long.
Death of a Comedian is, self-consciously, a drama about comedy. But there are more than enough laughs in this production to make you think otherwise.
Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton
Season: Until 9 December | Wed, Sun 6:30pm. Thu-Sat 7:30pm
Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Concession