Thursday, 21 April 2011

Melbourne Comedy Festival, 21 April, 2011

 Melbourne Comedy Festival wrap, 2011

The Melbourne Comedy Festival was once a vehicle for quirky groups who broke the boundaries of conventional stand-up with theatricality, characters or vaudevillian style.

The 2011 Festival sees the overwhelming dominance of solo shows, particularly stand-up comics. The rapid-fire, laugh-every-30-seconds-or-die joke-telling gets exhausting. I crave more intelligent, stylish, original, theatrical or character-driven comedy that is not fuelled purely by fast gags.

Charles Ross recreating the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy alone was my festival highlight. He transports us to Middle Earth with impeccable theatrical skill.

Ross Daniels’ show, Punked, is a skilful collision of stand-up, characters and theatrical storytelling. Rod Quantock’s subversive walking tour hilariously breaks all the rules.

Glynn Nicholas in This Way Up changes the stand-up dynamic in his polished and personal storytelling about happiness and ambitions. In Honestly, Felicity Ward’s wiry frame vibrates with barely contained energy as she grabs us by the scruff of the neck until we laugh out loud.

The programme, as always, boasted some gems and some real clangers. Many comics work to the lowest common denominator but there is a palpable shift now to “working blue”. It makes it difficult to take the family.

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