Tag: Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2013

Review: APARTMENTOCALYPSE! for MICF

Low-key comedy of epic proportions!

By Myron My

As part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Apartmentocalypse!  has us witnessing the world’s end. Yes, Armageddon is happening right now and three housemates, Thomas (Eden Porter), Martin (Michael Kalenderian) and Rob (Joshua Porter), are trying to figure out what to do next.

Apartmentocalypse

There is a level of ridiculous normality amidst this end of the world, as they still find time to argue about who is responsible for paying the rent and which mugs people have been drinking tea from. With three very distinct personalities on display – new-age Rob, wet-behind-the-ears Thomas and manly Martin – there is always a risk of playing to stereotypes whereby you lose the emotion and the realness of the people but the three actors play their characters so well and honestly that this is avoided and you care about these guys.

There are familiar shades of Shaun of the Dead-style humour present but the distinct comedic timing and high energy that the three possess under Christopher Bryant‘s direction allows this show to break free from this comparison. Particular mention goes to Eden Porter’s hilarious exaggerated expressions that truly were a sight to behold.

This is a tightly-written script that rarely wavers in its comic drive and rewards the audience with call backs referenced throughout, a sign that much time and effort has been put in here. Likewise with the set design, where the smallest touches has been added to create authenticity in the living room and some imaginative use of the lighting at various moments.

Apartmentocalypse! delivers the laughs and recommended for anyone who is looking to enjoy something other than stand-up at this year’s festival. In fact, Apartmentocalypse! reminds me very much of a normal share-house meeting – with the added bonus of the end of the world. And also a very good reason why I insist that all my DVDs remain in alphabetical order at all times.

Venue: The Tuxedo Cat, 17-23 Wills Street, Melbourne

Season: Until 21 April | Thurs-Sat, Mon-Tues 7:15pm, Sun 6:15pm

Tickets: $20 Full | $16 Concession

Bookings: http://www.tuxedocat.com.au or at the door

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REVIEW: Death Rides A Horse for MICF

Saddle up for character comedy

By Kate Boston Smith

Rama Nicholas grabs the reins with authority in her first solo show, Death Rides a Horse .  With sharp wit, excellent imagination and full commitment the multiple characters she plays this one-woman show of full force.

Having come up through the ranks of Melbourne’s rich improv scene, Nicholas proves that she has what it takes to deliver on her own.  Death Rides a Horse is an excellent parody of all those spaghetti westerns you loved as a child.

Rama Nicholas

Though some of the jokes feel a little limp at times there was absolutely no faulting her acting ability. Nicholas switched seamlessly through characters such as a cowgirl on the rise to fame, brothel madam, Latin lover, evil sheriff, trusty stead and of course, Death himself.

To watch as her wild imagination came alive on stage in front of you via all these characters was amazing.  Her simple set and use of props added discreet colour and shape to the show, as did her well-timed “blue jokes” for this late-night timeslot.   Moments I particularly enjoyed were the ‘death twins’, the Death song and I’m always a sucker for a Princess Bride reference.

Nicholas clearly has a love affair with character work, and she is excels in this area.  Due to this commitment and impressive number of characters introduced in the piece the story lacks a certain amount of meat on its bones.  This is a show of incredible craftsmanship, rather than a constant laugh out loud or ‘ROFOL’ adventure. Death Rides a Horse is to be enjoyed by those who want to wander off the (sometimes) aggressive stand-up track and take a winding trail through the prairie of one woman’s incredible imagination.

The Tuxedo Cat
27 Mar-9 Apr
Mon-Sat 10.45pm
Sun 9.45pm

Revolt Melbourne
11-20 Apr
Tue-Sat 7.30pm
Sun 5.30pm

Booking details can be found here.

Review: EMILY TAYLOR in Cannonball

Dark clever comedy in MICF debut

By Tania Herbert

As the hub for the MICF, audiences are always full of energy at the Victoria Hotel. And energy is certainly not lacking from Emily Taylor in her one-woman show Cannonball.

Emily Taylor

The audience files in to Judy Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, but it is certainly a somewhat darker place than Oz that we find ourselves drawn into.

Initially a seemingly innocent comic farce set in a glass tower shopping mall, Taylor moves effortlessly through an array of comic characters connected to the tower. Be it a precocious child, an uptight German receptionist or a vomiting neurotic cat, Taylor completely transforms herself voice and body to encapsulate each character.

From a depressed window washer to a self-absorbed CEO Taylor was convincing throughout. “Deedee” the demonic cabbage patch doll was perhaps one of the creepiest comic characters I’ve ever had the somewhat uncomfortable pleasure of meeting.

However, as Cannonball charges on, we come to realise that the characters are not linked by the tower, but instead by their neurosis, with each fighting their own private battle with a problematic unconscious. Despite the increasingly heavy content, there is certainly no lack of comedy, and laughter came easily and in good measure. The adaption to each persona showed a truly consummate performer, and from Emily we see not merely a joke writer, but a formidable actor.

There is a fair bit of wrong in this show- but not enough that it stops you laughing, and the depth of content kept me musing through the next day. The show definitely had more of a feel of “Fringe” then “Comedy” and a very dark ending did not leave the audience laughing in the closing stages. However, it is always rewarding to be reminded that comedy is not only goofy stand-ups, but can also be clever, satirical theatre. If you like to mix drama with your comedy, Emily Taylor is certainly a performer to look out for in the future.

Cannonball played March 29 – April 7 at MICF. Emily Taylor’s next performance dates can be found here.

REVIEW: Geraldine Quinn is STRANGER

Powerhouse voice and delightfully mysterious comedy

By Bradley Storer

A dark-clad figure silently glided into the room, gazing entranced at the audience before taking a seat beside the people in the second row. A powerful voice emerged from beneath the veils, serenading us with how fascinating we humans are. This mysterious and alluring image drew us into the world of Geraldine Quinn’s wonderful Melbourne International Comedy Festival show Stranger from the very start, Quinn keeping the moment from becoming too self-indulgent with some well-timed silliness.

Geraldine Quinn

The veils soon came off to reveal some amazing Bowie-influenced spandex along with the true nature of the show. Quinn’s character, an enigmatic but bright-eyed outsider from worlds unknown, regales us with her captivation with human beings and the myriad ways they relate and interact with each other.

Songs range from an amusing look at the ambiguous joys of family, how to be a half-assed ‘best friend’ and the similarities of love to an immuno-virus. Quinn combines abundant song-writing talent with a stunning voice, her commanding vocals embracing a spectrum ranging from rock goddess to a light-opera diva.

My one criticism would be that the beginning of the show left me a little confused about who Quinn’s character actually was (and perhaps this aspect needs some strengthening), but this became clearer as the show went on. The audience is treated (along with Quinn’s signature intense eye contact and hilariously forceful choreography) to this strange figure’s journey from an outsider observing the foibles of humanity to a willing actor in the drama of the human condition.

A sequence in which the ‘stranger’ unknowingly opened herself up to all of humanity’s inner voices combined heart-breaking confusion with wide-eyed wonder in a way that was simultaneously poignant and beautiful. An engaging hour of comedy/cabaret that both amuses and stimulates the mind!

DATES: 28th March – 21 April

TIME: 8:15 (7:15 Sun)

VENUE: Trades Hall, Cnr of Lygon & Victoria St, Carlton

TICKETS: $22, Conc $18, Group (8+) $18, Laugh Pack $18, Tightarse Tuesday $15

BOOKING: www.ticketmaster.com.au 1300 660 013, www.comedyfestival.com.au , Melbourne Town Hall Box Office or Trades Hall Box Office.

Review: SAM SIMMONS’ Shitty Trivia

Fast and furious fun

By Christine Moffat

If Sam Simmons ever considers a career outside of comedy, it should stunt driving.  This fast-paced show for MICF, written and performed by Simmons, is a wonderful headlong comedy attack on the audience.

Sam Simmons

Simmons took to the stage armed only with hilariously shitty trivia questions (it’s not just a clever title), mismatched shoes and bizarre anecdotes – oh, and a full wheelie bin too of course.

The pace of the show is driven by Simmons’ rapid fire ‘trivia question’ jokes, most of which are outrageous, unfathomable; or both.  The beauty of this system is that the jokes are not really the jokes; they are the set-up.  The real punch-lines come after each ‘joke’ when Simmons responds to the audience’s reaction.

It was especially entertaining when we (the audience) had been laughing our heads off and he responded to an imaginary, disapproving audience.  This format created a semblance of chaos that this reviewer suspects hid the workings of an amazingly well-structured show.

The ‘mysterious shoe’ plotline adds another layer.  A couple of unexpected elements that also work very well are the heavy use of multimedia (including Simmons’ own strange drawings), and a little something he likes to call ‘audience humiliation’.

These ingredients combine to make a very successful one-man sitcom.  Throughout, your mind marvels at the madness, while the rest of you shakes with laughter for 60 minutes.  There is no downtime in this show, but the surreal jumps between different formats create new ways for you to keep laughing.

Simmons engages the audience through headlong speed, fearlessness in his choice of subject matter and costumes (who likes short shorts?), and a freewheeling disregard for reality.  It’s time for a Fast and the Furious comedy spin-off, and I think Simmons is the man to make it happen!

Dates & Times:

3–7 April Tue–Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm

10–21 April Tue–Sat 9.45pm, Sun 8.45pm

Venue: The Hi-Fi

Price: $24-$34

Bookings: www.comedy-festival.com.au/2013/season/shows/shitty-trivia-sam-simmons

Ticketmaster 1300 660 013 / At the door

Review: CHOIR GIRL for MICF

Choir politics prove to be worth singing about

By Myron My

A young girl sits on stage with her back to us. Her name is Susan (Sarah Collins) and she is desperate to join a choir. Again. This is the dark comedic story of a choir’s most dedicated member and the politics of community choral singing. This is Choir Girl presented by Attic Erratic and marks its return performance for this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Sarah Collins

What sets this comedy show apart from anything else you might see this festival is that Collins is accompanied by a 13-member all-girl choir live on stage. Dressed in very conservative outfits and with their hair tied back in tight buns it’s quite hilarious to see them launching into songs like “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You” and the vocal highlight of the show “Hit Me Baby One More Time” when they get all sultry and as sexy as can be in their demure dresses. It’s a great comedic and narrative device using the choir as Greek chorus to help convey and commentate on Susan’s inner thoughts.

The narrative could have been quite confusing had it not been for the techniques and the skills Collins possesses for storytelling. It also says something about Collins’ wonderful stage presence that she can perform in front of 250 people on opening night and have everyone’s attention and yet be able to create a sense of intimacy in the large venue she’s performing in.

Some great lighting design is apparent throughout Choir Girl, including warming reds to show Susan’s “passionate” moments and the delicate use of the lonely spotlight at the end to impart a sense of vulnerability and humanity to her.

My only issue with the performance was that it did feel like it dragged just a little bit, where even shaving five minutes of the running time would have made a world of difference for pace and comic timing. However, Choir Girl is still a thoroughly entertaining show and it’s a nice change from the usual stand-up formula and familiar comedy shows on display this festival.

Venue: The Supper Room, Melbourne Town Hall. Cnr Swanston & Collins Sts, Melbourne

Season: Until 15 April | Monday 7:00pm

Tickets: $23 Full | $20 Concession

Bookings: http://www.ticketmaster.com.au,http://www.comedyfestival.com.au1300 660 013 or at the door

REVIEW: Thomas Jaspers in NO PLACE LIKE HOMO

Sensational MICF debut

By Bradley Storer

The evening began with a visit from comedian Thomas Jaspers’ close friend ‘Rhonda Butchmore’, who sauntered onstage, all long legs and six-pack in one hand, to warm up the crowd with a few dropped names and withering witticisms about the likes of Chrissie Swan and Patti Newton. This delightful opening segued into a soap opera-styled look at Jaspers’ hometown of Aspendale, dubbed ‘Downtown Assy’, before Jaspers himself emerged (still half dressed as his drag alter-ego) to begin the show.

Thomas Jaspers

No Place Like Homo, Jaspers’ debut at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, documents the comedian’s journey from a flamboyant, Priscilla-loving child through adolescence and his break-up with a certain well-known Australian comedian and its aftermath.  The major theme of the show is family, with the members of Jaspers’ own family (all played by Jaspers himself) made present throughout the evening via a series of projections that, in a very inventive stroke of media, interject and interweave through all of the material. All of these characters provide hilarious and heart-warming moments, Jaspers’ delightfully dirty grandmother in particular, and in their portraiture you can sense great love and affection.

Despite this being his first appearance at the Comedy Festival, Jaspers already shows great comedic skill and ability in his story-telling. On this night the performer showed some signs of nerves (probably not helped by the presence of his actual family in the audience) but there was no need for worry – Jaspers has crafted a fantastic, hysterical yet touching debut, which we can only hope for more of in the future.

VENUE: The Horse Bazaar, 397 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne

TIME: 8:00 (7:00 Sun)

TICKETS: Full $20, Conc $18, Tightarse Tuesday $16, Group (10+) $18, Laugh Park $18.

BOOKING: www.ticketmaster.com.au Ph: 1300 660 013, www.comedyfestival.com.au, at venue.