Frank and funny, with an unforgettable finale

By Bradley Storer

Entering in complete darkness Jenny Wynter begins her cabaret, An Unexpected Variety Show, exhorting her audience to reflect in the dark on their own lives and choices, before launching into the opening song bearing the same title as the show, marvelling at the many twists and turns one life can take.

This autobiographical show for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival takes us on a tour of episodes of Wynter’s life, broken up with a wide stylistic range of original songs.

The main theme is the attempt to reconcile youthful dreams of fame and success with the responsibilities of adulthood. There are hilarious numbers about youthful affairs, mother/daughter relationships, and married life all interspersed with costumes changes and (at one inspired moment) puppetry.

While always maintaining a mercurial atmosphere, Wynter does not shy from quite confronting material even from the beginning, touching on her experiences as a young mother, the death of a close family member as a child, and the struggle to balance family life and life as a performer.

Wynter gives off the brassiness and bravado of a veteran showgirl, but with the mature vulnerability of one for whom the show has ended years before. While not always strong vocally, she has the distinct features and versatile singing voice of a classic character actress, ably jumping from a throaty and voluptuous saloon song to a Tina Turner-style soul number and even rapping with aplomb.

While it may not be not mind-blowing, Wynter is a charming performer and has written a show with a big heart and many beautiful moments throughout, in particular one gorgeous and touching segment where Wynter harmonizes with the voice of her own mother (herself a singer), with the finale leaving a smile which is impossible to erase.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank St, South Melbourne

Dates: April 10th – 22nd

Time: Tuesday/Wednesday/Sunday 6pm, Thursday/Friday/Saturday 7pm

Tickets: At The Butterfly Club, or online at www.thebutterflyclub.com

Full $27
Concession $24
Group (8 or more) $23
Tightarse Tuesday $15

Review: CELIA PACQUOLA is Delayed

Tons of charm, and hilarious story-telling

By Myron My

Celia Pacquola is brilliant and I will explain why. Her Melbourne International Comedy Festival show Delayed is full of energy and spark. Pacquola has quite a skill in storytelling and you can really see her getting into the moment as she relays the misadventures of her life as an expat in London.

Most notably this is seen in her eyes which express so much: almost a life of their own! In fact, if there were an award for the comedian with the most expressive eyes, Pacquola would win without a doubt.

Thankfully though, she doesn’t fall into the trap a lot of female comedians do and begin talking about being desperate or terrible with men. Pacquola looks at other much hard-hitting subjects like flight attendants who control time, bitch hair and lies our parents told us.

Covering quite an array of topics in 60 minutes could make for a bit of a convoluted and haphazard (word of the day) set, but Pacquola makes it all flow rhythmically and tie in with her long-term long-distance relationship story arc.

The intimacy of the room – helped by the full house – added to the relationship Pacquola established with her audience as she successfully talks about her two-year gap year without ever boring us. With extra shows being added due to popular demand, Pacquola’s show is one that cannot be missed.

Pacquola mentioned in her show that using your thumbs in a dance move will always make it look bad, because thumbs make anything look bad. I would like to prove her wrong and give two thumbs up for Delayed (and yes, I made a dad joke).

Melbourne Town Hall
Until 22 April
Tue-Sat 8.30pm
Sun 7.30pm
Fri 13th & Sat 14th April 6pm
Full Fri & Sat $28
Full Wed-Thu
Full Sun $26
Ticketmaster 1300 660 013

Review: VICTORIA HEALY in Independent Woman Part 2

Girl power unplugged

By Myron My

In the back of Melbourne bar, Rue Bebelons, Victoria Healy takes to the stage to perform her 2012 Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, Independent Woman Part 2.

With a swagger of “girl power”-themed musical interludes, Healy discusses various moments of a young girl’s life when she begins to define herself as a woman. She’s not a girl, not yet a woman. All she needs is time…(and I’m going to stop there).

Beginning with “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls, Healy reminisces about her glorious high school days where she would happily compare herself to Scary Spice and later, the unfortunate self-appointing membership to the girl gang; The Fish Crew. Oh, the folly of youth.

Healy continues to get in touch with her feminine side with the aide of asrtists like Shania Twain, Beyonce, and Corinne Bailey Rae. We see Healy’s trials and tribulations regarding hair maintenance, the efforts women will go to to win a jelly-wrestling competition (I really hope this story is true) and even rhythmic gymnastics gets an honourable mention.

On a technical note, my only criticism of the show would be the lighting. Just a touch brighter would have made a world of difference in my eyes – literally. Despite the small stage area, Healy uses it well and this is where you see her improvisation experience and knowledge come into play. The characters she creates throughout her stories, such as the racist who decides to eat in Chinatown, are well thought-out caricatures and deliver the laughs where needed. You almost forget that it’s a one-woman show at times due to their realness.

Ultimately this story is Healy’s journey to becoming a confident, sexy and dare I say it; independent (there, I did) woman. After the show, my two female companions spent a good half an hour not only discussing what Victoria had said but agreeing with it and relaying their similar experiences. At one point, I even found myself relating to things.

Regardless of your generational letter, with her warm and welcoming ways, it seems Healy’s Independent Woman Part 2 is hitting a chord with women and men alike. Zig-a-zag-ah!

Rue Bebelons Upstairs
267 Little Lonsdale St
until 22 April
Mon 6pm
Fri-Sun 9.45pm
Full $20
 (Cheap Mondays $16)
Online or at the door

REVIEW: The Butterfly Club Presents KELFI AND FIKEL

Let’s hear it for the girls

By Maxine Montgomery

Kelfi and Fikel (aka Kellie Della Ca and Fiona Higgins) began their show by walking into the intimate showroom at The Butterfly Club and saying hello to the audience. They asked the names of a few of us and in that moment, we were all put deliciously on edge, unsure if we were going to be called up for audience participation or left in peace. The girls then opened the show with a stint of casual banter, giving a feel of having being invited over for coffee and a chat. It set the tone for an evening of frankness, irreverence and fun.

From the outset, their long standing friendship was obvious – they clearly share a similar twisted sense of humour, and they have an inherent love and understanding of each other. These factors combined serve them very well throughout the show. Their character-based sketches are slick, clever and fast-paced in delivery. Kellie and Fiona have created a broad range of characters, and through them they are able to pass comment on anything and everything. Without these characters, they may not be able to push the envelope as far as they do and still have the audience on side. I found myself fully engaged in all scenarios, bar one – the less-than-macho koala and kangaroo sketch. After beginning well and bringing forth giggles from the audience, it seemed to run too long and in doing so, lost some of its impact.

The sketch comedy of Kelfi and Fikel is strongly supported by their original songs and their delivery of same. The girls’ voices seem to be made to sing together. Backed by Kellie’s capable piano-playing, their vocals are strong and their written harmonies are delivered with confidence. Their opening song, “We Go Together”, is a wonderful catalogue of all the best and worst pairings that have ever been – I sat there crying with laughter thinking, “Oh, no, they didn’t just go there?!” One of my favourite moments started as something of a nod to “My Favourite Things” and ended up as a euphemistic love letter to the vagina… Fine line trodden? Yes… Side-splittingly funny? Oh, my word, yes!

Kelfi and Fikel have created a show that is ‘oh, so right’ because in places it is ‘oh, so wrong’. These two know how to have fun, not take themselves too (at all?!) seriously, and invite the audience along for the ride. If you’re a fan of the likes of The Fast Show and The Catherine Tate Show, then the comedy and music of Kelfi and Fikel is sure to delight.

The show runs at The Butterfly Club as a part of the 2012 Melbourne Comedy Festival every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 10:20pm until April 21. For tickets, go to www.thebutterflyclub.com


Fall in love with laughter!

By Adam Tonking

Every now and then a show comes along that you can’t help but fall in love with. One of the many joys of reviewing is that I get to write a love letter to it.

I admit it, I have a crush on 10 Things I Know About You, written and performed by Simon Taylor.

On the surface, this show is about psychology, a topic that clearly fascinates Taylor. He takes us through the psychology of morality, delusion, love, comedy, and ultimately happiness; but this is first and foremost a comedy routine, and it is hilarious.

Taylor sings to us, he dances for us, he regales us with stories from his life and quotes from his psychology textbook. He is so delightful, and so very talented, that you can’t resist being drawn into his upbeat exploration of the human mind.

In between the constant laughs and all the psychology, this is a cleverly-crafted show. Taylor is in complete control of his audience and his material the entire time; no line is superfluous, no joke misses its mark. Even when it’s informative, it never ceases to be funny. And through all of his antics, he never strays from the flow of his narrative arc.

The various butts of his jokes were sometimes a little too obvious, but he comes at them from a fresh perspective, and keeps them contextual. It never feels like pandering, or playing for cheap laughs.

All of this builds to an amazing finale of such simplicity and brilliance it blows you away. You leave the show with a smile on your face and a spring in your step, and – if you’re me – head home to write a love-letter to it.

Taylor’s show is magnificent, and I dare you to see it and not come out feeling better about the world. And a little bit in love.

But enough gushing like a schoolgirl. Simon Taylor’s 10 Things I Know About You is on at The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank St, South Melbourne from Wednesday 28 March till Sunday 22 April, at 8pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays, and 9pm Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Book at www.thebutterflyclub.com, and do it now.