Category: Comedy

Hand To God premieres in Australia

Hand To God delivers the rude and chaotic world it promises, as well as yet another dirty sock to St Kilda.

By Owen James

Fractured faith, crass discourse, puppet sex and unravelled lies. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before onstage, and riotous comedy Hand To God lives up to its advertisement tag-line: “If Book Of Mormon and Avenue Q had a baby, it would be Hand To God”.

The show plays for laughs from the beginning, with little time given to set-up before filthy lines are insulting characters and audience alike. Director Gary Abrahams ensures the exposition moves quickly and this rollercoaster “to hell and back” rarely lulls.

Gyton Grantley is a delight to watch as Jason and his demonic sock puppet Tyrone. With an incredible physical performance and genuinely jaw-dropping puppetry, Grantley handles every comedic high and emotional nuance of the two characters without a hitch.

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Photographs: Angel Leggas

The chaotic character arc of damaged mother Margery is presented by the manic and wild Alison Whyte, with insolent teenager Timothy (Jake Speer) as her unlikely partner. Both bring unbridled energy and some of the biggest laughs to the show.

Grant Piro is a hilarious highlight as Pastor Greg, worth the ticket price alone for his riotous caricature, and Morgana O’Reilly as initially innocent Jessica steals scenes and laughs – especially in the boisterous climax of the play.

Jacob Battista’s set is ingenious, packing every moment into the Alex Theatre. The colourful set is matched with equally colourful costumes from Chloe Greaves, that tell us everything we need to know about these characters before they open their mouths. Lighting by Amelia Lever-Davidson and sound by Ian Moorhead expand the atmosphere of conservative Texas, and help tiny Tyrone take over the whole theatre in his bigger moments.

Hand To God delivers the rude and chaotic world it promises, but there are surprisingly emotional and poetic moments to be found amidst the chaos. Audiences of South Park or Family Guy will be right at home with this brash and outspoken comedy.

Hand To God plays at Alex Theatre until 18 March.  Tickets can be purchased online and by calling the box office on 03 8534 9300.


White Face Crew Present La Vie Dans Une Marionette

Outlandish comedy dressed in old-fashioned charm

By Lois Maskiell

La Vie Dans une Marionette (Life in a Puppet) has all the ingredients of a truly charming show – combine the simple story of a lonely pianist with physical theatre and dress it in pantomime blanche, moustaches, tuxedos and voila! Children will gurgle with laughter and adults will chuckle in delight.

La Vie Dans Une Marionette

La Vie Dans une Marionette by New Zealand company, White Face Crew premiered at Auckland Fringe Festival in 2013 and has since toured to Melbourne and Edinburgh. This current production at Arts Centre Melbourne, kicks off with the audience being greeted at the door by rambunctious host and actor, Jarod Rawiri. Within minutes he’s arguing with Arts Centre’s voice over and interrupts to set his own rules. Eliciting much laughter, an audience member is called on stage and a lively demonstration of how to not be and how to be a good crowd follows.

Actor, Tama Jarman plays the charming, fat bellied Pianist who gracefully moves about the stage – his signature gesture is wiping sweat from his forehead like an English dandy dancing Beyoncé Knowles. Soon, Yann Tiersen’s and Tama Waipara’s compositions are heard, enchanting in their quaint simplicity.

When the host reappears, he’s dressed as a delivery man speaking gromalot – a nonsensical babble that’s hilariously frank. He delivers a box addressed to The Pianist which has within it a puppet of sorts. The Pianist discovers that The Puppet, who’s animated by dancer Christopher Ofanoa, can be manipulated by music. As The Puppet slowly comes alive, Ofanoa’s artistry is revealed and his technical ability is undeniable.

Through a mixture of dance, physical theatre and mime, rules are broken resulting in comedic mayhem – even in the most simplest of moments. In between The Puppet and The Pianist’s amicable shenanigans, our host intermittently returns in a fantastic head-piece as The Moon. Prancing around exuberantly, he declares it night and day. His outlandish comedy is spontaneous and boisterous with the slightest expression inducing tonnes of laugher.

Creators, Tama Jarman, Justin Haiu and Harod Rawiri have devised a brilliant and classic work with each performer’s distinct talents contributing to a rich team dynamic. In the final moments, The Puppet is packed away and a small piece of magic is left on his box as a reminder of good old-fashioned charm.


Dates:  16 – 20 January

Venue: Fairfax, Arts Centre Melbourne

Times: 2:00pm, 7:00pm

Prices: $25 – $35


Photo credit: Stephen A’Court, courtesy of Capital E National Arts Festival

Melbourne Fringe 2017: KOSHER BACON

Delicious and delightful comedy

By Jessica Gittel

Foreskins, marriage, state MPs moonlighting as DJs and the profound dumbness of the human race: Michael Shafar’s Kosher Bacon was 50-minutes worth of light-hearted laughing and fun for this year’s Melbourne Fringe.

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Now showing as part of the 2017 Festival, Kosher Bacon explores the hypocrisies and intricacies of the human species, particularly those found meandering through Shafar’s everyday life. The comedian casually draws on his own life experiences growing up in the Melbourne Jewish community, explores outsiders’ expectations of marriage with his long time girl-friend and the interesting cyber correspondences he is now privy to as a comedy writer for Channel 10’s The Project.

This show relied on imitations, anecdotes and observations of friends and foe alike that admittedly don’t always make the most sense, but unlike some comedy shows where there are moments of unease, crudeness and profanities thrown into the mix as space fillers, you can rest assured this is not that type of show. Kosher Bacon is very funny, interactive and relatable. As a Jewish person seated next to a native Queenslander, I enjoyed the fact no-one was spared and there was something that everybody could relate to and have a good giggle at.

The small audience slotted nicely into the cosy upper echelons of the Lithuanian Club, but don’t worry for those who get a little shvitzy, there is a fan on the audience to ensure we don’t over-heat enjoying the humour.

Kosher Bacon is a well-polished and charming show with an energising and upbeat pace. Michael Shafar’s warmth and intelligence comes across throughout the performance. This man definitely has the potential to go a long way in the Australian comedy scene: maybe next year he’ll be deservedly promoted to the main room of the Lithuanian Club? For now, get down and book your tickets today – seating is limited, but the laughs certainly aren’t.

Fringe Hub: Lithuanian Club – Son of Loft

44 Errol St
North Melbourne
T: (03) 9660 9600

26th – 30th of October.

9pm (50 minute performance)



Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: ROMESH RANGANATHAN is IRRATIONAL

Delightfully disarming

By Tania Herbert

A relative newcomer to the comedy scene (he was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards in 2013), Romesh Ranganathan has been a regular face across the BBC stand-up and mock-news genres in recent years. At his first appearance in Australia for this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Romesh himself queried “Can it be worth it?” to have travelled from his UK home to present Irrational – a stand-up show which has previously sold over 100,000 tickets in its 2016 run.


Romesh brings a generally self-deprecating style and continual tongue-in-cheek humour which is full of charm, wit and the occasional ‘awww’ (though Romesh, do you really expect us to believe you are exceedingly unattractive?)

As irrationality tends to be, it was a highly amusing performance, and one which Romesh is clearly comfortable and polished in. The laughs were constant and genuine, and created that lovely and not-so-common feeling of a community of laughter in the audience. There’s no particular single narrative or ‘plot’ – it’s a life-ramble through family, technology, politics, entertainment and sexuality, with an ongoing theme of the comedic opportunities one has as a ‘brown person with a lazy eye’ living in the Western world.

Too often it is the case that one goes to see a beloved BBC comedian on stage rather than screen, and instead finds themselves inundated with unsophisticated adult humour. However, this was not the case in Irrational. Whilst swearing like a trooper (and amusing us by his tales of encouraging his children to do the same), Romesh maintains his charisma throughout, though I probably could have lived without quite such a vivid description of an afterbirth.

Overall, this is a fun show, and very typical of both his usual humour and stand-up generally, though I was actually most entertained by his off-the-cuff stuff, which was infrequent but hilarious.

If you enjoy a bit of charming, slightly awkward and lightly-political British humour, then you’ll have a great time at Irrational.

Irrational is playing at The Pavillion at The Arts Centre until April 23, with new sessions added for the 21st and 22nd


Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: JUPLICITY

All the laughs

By Margaret Weiringa

Early on, Phil Jupitus warns the audience that if they are expecting the Phil Jupitus that you’ve seen regularly on QI, chirpy and flirting with Stephen Fry, that you’re mistaken. The man we are watching tonight is far more filthy-mouthed and very, very hilarious. He’s a master of standup, with perfect timing to draw the audience in before slamming the punchlines.


Jupiter also mentions that it is tricky being a comic in the age of the internet because the audience may have already seen a lot of his recent work. In particular, he refers to the section of a show that he played at The Apollo that raised controversy for the way he included parts of his teenage daughter’s life in his act. I mention this here, because he tells us he picks up this act from the end of that routine and if you are attending, you might want to check it out first.

The show is quite intimate in the Pavilion at the Arts Centre, a room that may be more often used for conferences than performances. There’s not a bad seat in the house, and it was the perfect setting for the stories Jupitus told of his childhood and of his life. Certainly a highlight was the revelation of his youthful misunderstandings about the facts of life and just how confusing hearing about sex can be to a young child.

Juplicity seemed to disappear in a moment, and I left wanting more. I know I’ll be looking for his act from The Apollo, and I hope that he comes back to Australia again in the future.

Where: The Pavilion at The Arts Centre

When: April 19-22 at 7pm, April 23 at 6pm

Tickets: $46.90, or through Ticketmaster 1300 660 013


Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: RENONSENSE MAN

Always a joy

By Leeor Adar

Jimeoin has brought the best of his physical comedy for this 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival season. He’s part-time Irishman, and part-time horny T-Rex, who brandishes his guitar for one of the best renditions of a one-night-stand love song I’ve ever heard.

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You just can’t be disappointed with his comic prowess; he steers clear of the political rabbit hole whilst his humour never sinks to the boobs-and-farts dimension lesser comedians use to relate to their audience. Jimeoin is relatable because he’s totally human, and totally willing to laugh along with you. Sitting in a Jimeoin audience is like sitting with your good mates as the funniest one sends you into fits. It’s a social event, a comedy that brings everyone together.

Thrilling Australians since the nineties, Jimeoin can always get audiences in the droves, signifying that his humour through the ages never ceases to endure. Whilst us 20-somethings cackled with glee, we sat next to an older gentleman and his companion, who slapped their knees along with us. This is the mark of a great comedian, and Jimeoin’s star has returned across the seas to the United Kingdom where he’s been thrilling them since the naughties.

Renonsense Man is Jimeoin’s historical account of his life with such energy, humour and absurdity. It’s a return to his Northern-Irish roots; a father who banishes him to be funny elsewhere; a mother without a sense of humour whilst being entirely comic in his retelling; and the everyday all of us can recognise.

You can catch Jimeoin’s performance for the MICF at ACMI until Sunday April 23rd. Performances commence at 8:15pm most nights, and Sunday’s at 7:15pm.

Take your friends, take your neighbours, and maybe for the more daring lot – take your kids.


Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017: COWBOY MOUTH

By name and by nature

By Myron My

Comedian David Quirk has had four different women located around the world dream about him. These women all contacted Quirk to tell him about their dreams and from these communications , Quirk has created his stand-up show Cowboy Mouth, which is being presented as part of this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

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Quirk cleverly uses the four encounters as touchstones for his anecdotes, in which he takes a step back from the dream and looks at the bigger picture or implications. The first one involves a woman reading a review about one of his shows and talking about this, which leads Quirk to recall a memorable meeting he had with a fan. Watching Quirk on stage for the first time, this story immediately gave me an indication of the type of personality he has and the misadventure and trouble that seems to follow him wherever he goes, and subsequently set the comic tone for the rest of the show.

At one point, Quirk beings to explain that sometimes he completely blanks out as to where he is and what he is doing, which has led to some hilarious encounters, including the one with his neighbour which left everyone stunned with jaws hanging. Quirk never rushes through his stories, which allows us to be fully engrossed by what he is saying, and to break out in laughter as we re-live the moment with him.

Quirk’s show give the audience a real insight into how he operates, how he sees the world and his assessment of the situations he finds himself in. His analysis of a particular racial slur he hears is a perfect example of conveying his unique life views to us.

With Cowboy Mouth, we are treated to a near-hour of thoughtful reflection on the world around us as seen through Quirk’s eyes. It’s an evening of great storytelling with plenty of laughs to be had.

Venue: Melbourne Town Hall, Cnr. Swantson and Collins St, Melbourne.
Season: until 23 April | Tues – Sat 9.45pm, Sun 8:45pm
Length: 55 minutes
Tickets: $20 – $32
Bookings: MICF website