Category: Stand-Up Comedy

REVIEW: Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen: In Conversation With Lionel Corn

The Chaser do-over Q and A

By Caitlin McGrane

The Chaser stars Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen are here to ruin audience Q and As forever. Fictional author Lionel Corn is somewhere between Groundskeeper Willie, Malcolm Tucker and George R.R. Martin. However, I’m not sure there’s enough under-shirt padding in the world that could make Andrew Hansen even vaguely resemble Martin in this almost totally transparent reference to the author in their debut MICF show. Corn’s pairing with Taylor’s totally inept interviewer/MC was wonderful; that I cannot remember his name has only enhanced the effective awfulness of his character and his love of his own voice.

Chaser

In this show Taylor and Hansen do what they’ve always done best – lampooned popular culture and social conventions in order to score satirical points. Their fantastic send-up of The Festival of Dangerous Ideas, in which Lionel Corn was interviewed by the worst moderator in the world, had me laughing and cringing throughout. They opened well, with an extended gag about walk-on music that effectively called out the ridiculous music that always accompanies speakers onstage, to which literally no one else pays attention.

The whole show was a send-up of the endless festivals that we all love to attend – writers’, emerging writers’, film, dangerous ideas etc, etc. It also very satirically lambasted shows like Q&A, with their refusal to engage in a conversation about the lack of women and trans people on screen.

The only part that let the show down slightly was a bizarre sequence involving a disease invented by Corn/Hansen called ‘Parkinsons of the arse’; it felt cheap and poorly thought out. I also missed out on seeing the promised guest comedian, but enjoyed the explanation of the empty chair on stage as symbolising the journalists and broadcasters who were locked up for political dissidence, or who couldn’t be there due to a schedule mix-up.

While the show isn’t exactly as groundbreaking or biting as some of their Chaser sketches, it was engaging, entertaining and kept me laughing.

Venue: The Forum

Season: Until Sunday 19 April (excl. Mon) Tue-Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm

Tickets: Full $34| Conc $30

Bookings: http://www.comedyfestival.com.au

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REVIEW: Jude Perl presents Is it just me?

Musical comedy with a conscience

By Narelle Wood

 Jude Perl knows how to make an entrance, an entrance in a dress that would make Lady Gaga green with envy. Perl’s musical comedy is full of musical and pop clichés in a satirical look at everything from being a pop star to asking the very poignant question Is it just me?

 Jude_Web2

The songs cover a whole gamut of topics, but all seem to have some feminist undertones, or other social commentary hidden amongst the extremely witty and downright hilarious lyrics. Her songs drip with well-written innuendo and a smattering of over shares, which, she acknowledges from the start, are things the audience may not want to know.

Between the musical numbers, Perl performs some non-musical comedy that is just as funny. While I really enjoyed these parts of the show, the highlights for me were the musical numbers; I couldn’t pick a favourite song if I tried. My absolute favourite part of the show was Perl’s voice; it sounded like an incredible cross between Alicia Keys and Suzie Quatro resulting in a sound that I found both familiar and completely unique.

I thoroughly enjoyed Is it just me? from beginning to end. There is something very endearing about Perl that made even the audience participation moments (which I usually dread) completely okay. Jude Perl’s Is it just me? is extremely entertaining and honest comedy at it’s musical best. If good comedy and good music is your recipe for a good night out then this show is a must.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Melbourne

Season: 6pm Wed 13 May – Sun 17 May, 7pm Sat 16

Tickets: Full $25| Conc $23

Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com

REVIEW: Claire Sullivan presents Space Cadet

A comedic space adventure

By Caitlin McGrane

Claire Sullivan’s madcap space adventure started well; her voice appeared from behind the audience over a $2 megaphone to hurry people in from the bar at Hugs & Kisses. The show began with an unusual level of audience participation – Sullivan invited everyone in the intimate theatre-cum-dance floor onto the stage where we were told we were going into space and had to participate in the take-off. This level of participation was about all I was ready to handle, and am very glad I was not called upon when Sullivan instructed the audience to ask questions about space. I enjoyed this mini Q & A but couldn’t help feeling like this was stalling for time.

Claire Sullivan

The performance was often enjoyably frenetic, disjointed and ludicrous – the moments where Sullivan shone were where she was ad-libbing and interacting with the audience (which appeared to be mostly made up of her friends and former singing teachers). The weakest parts for me were when the seemingly vague script forced Sullivan to flail on stage and reach for props from plastic bags; it didn’t seem so much hilariously zany as it appeared disorganised.

Sullivan is certainly talented and I enjoyed her raw comedic energy, but I found myself distracted by her attempts to wrestle with technology and direct the show towards a coherent conclusion. It was the first night of the show, and these things often take time to fine tune, but I am aware that this show has been performed in Perth so I was surprised by how scattered it seemed. I look forward to seeing what Sullivan does next, and I hope her next show is tighter and sharper because I do thoroughly believe she has it in her to produce something brilliantly bonkers that tells a great story.

Venue: Hugs and Kisses, 22 Sutherland Street, Melbourne

Season: Until 18th April, 8pm (no show Sundays)

Tickets: Full $17 | Conc $12

Bookings: http://www.trybooking.com/GPYC

 

REVIEW: Katerina Vrana presents About Sex

Lets talk about sex

By Myron My

Let’s talk about sex baby. If you like my body and you think I’m sexy. Let me play with your body make you real hot. Despite these three sentences being lyrics to three very well known songs about sex, they also encapsulate Katerina Vrana’s show, aptly titled About Sex.

Katerina Vrana

Born in Greece but having lived almost two decades in England, Vrana has a wealth of stories and anecdotes to share of these two cultures and their dealings with sex. Her impersonations of her family members, including her mother and father, are brilliant but it is when she talks about her 17-year-old brother asking her for sex advice that things really get cracking. One simple question from him is all it takes for the audience to be simultaneously shocked and howling in laughter.

Vrana covers a range of topics, from her first one-night stand to the differences between single sex, married sex, and gay and lesbian sex, however her focus is pretty much on sex pre-1994 and sex post-1994. Why 1994? Generally speaking, that’s when Internet porn took over the world and changed everyone’s ideas about what sex is and should be.

Vrana has great comedic timing on stage and her delivery and facial expressions of punch lines is impeccable. She knows exactly how far to push the envelope and then step back to let us take it all in before she gets straight back into it.

As an added bonus, Thursday night shows are performed in Greek, so it’s a perfect opportunity for those Greek grandchildren out there to take your grandparents out on the town for a laugh and some fun.

Vrana’s insights in About Sex are more than just cheap dick jokes and ‘wham-bang thank you ma’am’ type of comedy. Vrana is opening up discussion about sex so we are not ashamed or embarrassed by it or our bodies; after all, we all do it, so why shouldn’t we enjoy doing it and talking about it?

Venue: Elephant & Wheelbarrow, Cnr. Bourke and Exhibition St. Melbourne.

Season: Until 18 April | Thurs-Tue 8:30pm

Tickets: $20 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings: TixNoFee

REVIEW: Paul Culliver is The Best Newcomer

An endearing comedy

By Narelle Wood

Self-proclaimed Best Newcomer Paul Culliver delivers 4 ½ star comedy. Covering all the important topics from dating, nuclear war, fitness and a definitive solution to any human resource issues, Culliver’s comedic timing is brilliant.

Paul Culliver

Most of Culliver’s humour centres on self-deprecation and observational comedy, but as with most comedians, Culliver sees things from an exceptionally unique perspective. The performance space is quite intimate, and Culliver interacts with the audience with ease. This is especially evident in the off-the-cuff moments where things haven’t quite gone to plan, and a completely unfazed Culliver, takes it all in his stride.

I was a little worried at the beginning of the show as Culliver’s delivery seemed frenetic and he was talking so quickly I couldn’t quite catch what he was saying. Thankfully this didn’t last very long and the pace and atmosphere soon relaxed. The ending was a little philosophical for where I thought the show was heading; this aside it was a show full of chuckles.

Culliver is endearing and I especially liked the way he spoke to everyone as they left the venue. The show’s one of the shorter ones in the Comedy Festival and its late night, time slot would actually work really well for anyone looking to wrap up their evening with some great laughs.

Venue: Highlander Bar, 11a Highlander Lane, Melbourne

Season: Tue-Sat 9.45pm, until 18th April

Tickets: Full $15| Conc $10

Bookings: http://www.trybooking.com

REVIEW: Darebin Arts Speakeasy presents Backwards

A terrific hoot

by Rachel Holkner

Backwards is the result of a collaboration with students at Brunswick East Primary School and my burning question is, when they come to see the show, which parts do they recognise as their own? Is it the characters? Are there anecdotes they told Emily Taylor that have made their way into the script? Perhaps it is the huge variety of physicalities and tics of the people she portrays. It is simply impossible to tell as Taylor owns it all and is fully committed to her every moment on stage.

emily taylor

Written and performed by Emily Taylor, Backwards is an exploration of childhood and the relationships between adults and children. But it’s not your traditional standup, it’s a one woman minimalist play. With a set made up of only the world’s ugliest kitchen chair, and with the ingenious sound design of Gus MacMillan, Taylor is able to convey half a dozen unique interior and exterior locations.

Her ten characters are people you have met. Possibly you will relate to one or two of them! (I may have…) Across a wide range of ages and backgrounds these are ordinary people turned up to maximum, stepping occasionally over into caricature. Taylor loves these characters, she shows no favouritism and as she scuttles, turns and twists between each one you quickly forget there is only one person on stage. Her performance is, as always, tight and consistent. She has a mastery of switching characters, and in keeping them clearly delineated without props, masks or costume changes.

My favourite moments were those when characters revealed their true nature to other characters leading to unexpected moments of connection. There are plenty of uproarious and outrageous moments interspersed with thoughtful pokes at the trappings and trials of modern life.

Backwards is clever and hilarious and although not really written for children, the one upper primary school aged child in the audience definitely expressed that he thought the whole thing was a terrific hoot.

 

Venue: Northcote Town Hall (Studio Two), 189 High St, Northcote

Season: Until April 18, Tues – Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm

Tickets: $23/$18/$15

Bookings: http://www.darebinarts.com.au/speakeasy

 

 

REVIEW: Dirty. Sexy. Politics

Vote Albert and Valentine

By Caitlin McGrane

Come for the satire, stay for the music.

There is little fanfare as Tom Albert and Sam Valentine stumble through the velvet curtain to take the stage in The Butterfly Club; and initially they seem to have been kicked on stage by their manager. Do not be fooled however, for behind their boyish exteriors beat two bitingly cynical political hearts. These two vagabonds begin with an emphatic plea to the room to have them as their elected representatives. Representatives of what, exactly, is slightly unclear but it’s definitely something to do with sex. All the innuendo and double entendres is a useful way to get the audience fired up initially, it’s just a shame this energy couldn’t have continued throughout.

dirty sexy politics

No doubt creative, intelligent and energetic performers, Dirty. Sexy. Politics has the makings of a great show, I’m just not sure that we haven’t heard some of what they’re saying before. Surely I can’t be the only person who’s heard the one about the party whip? However, two things captured and held my attention in this show: the music, which was entertaining, irreverent, and poignant in places; and the quick asides from the performers when they appeared to slip from the ‘script’.

Albert and Valentine (a double act name that rolls easily off the tongue) shine on stage as vaudevillian counterparts, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. I particularly enjoyed the unions song, and when Valentine singled out my companion as a likely candidate for sexual dysfunction. I laughed most of the way through the hour, and had a thoroughly good time. This election, I’m voting for Albert and Valentine.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Melbourne

Season: Saturday 28th March 7pm and Sunday 29th March 6pm.

Price: Full $28 |Conc $25

Tickets: http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/dirty-sexy-politics