Friday, 1 April 2011

Reviews by Joe Calleri, Melbourne Comedy Festival 2011

Please note: These 7 reviews are by Joe Calleri for the Herald Sun in April 2011. they are not my reviews. I thought you might be interested.  KH

Venue and Dates: Athenaeum Theatre until April 24, 2011
Reviewer: Joe Calleri on April 1, 2011
Stars: ****
Published in Herald Sun Online
It’s easy to like Australian comedian, Wil Anderson. He oozes charm, charisma, personality, and has a broad comedic range in his sell-out, rip-roaring show, Man VS. Wil.

Anderson directs his razor-sharp wit, rapid fire comedic delivery, keen intellect, and microscope-like powers of observation at a broad range of  subjects: the painfully and hilariously acute differences between American and Australian waiters’ service standards (guess who’s second best?); various types of addiction (real or imaginary, including shopping addiction); masturbation; religion; heterosexuality and homosexuality.

Highlights include Anderson’s life-long fear of horses, and his explanation of what NOT to do after you ride a horse for the first time. Another winner is his morning visits to a US Starbuck’s to be ogled by the gay men so he could feel better about himself.   

I learned plenty during Anderson’s show: the existence of Valium for cats (who would have thought?), and how to make a profit during a 14-hour long-haul flight. (a clue: it involves not sleeping).

But Anderson’s almighty swipe at embattled actor Matthew Newton drew the biggest applause. Anderson’s remarks remarks could be actionable outside the safe cocoon of his show.

It is the mark of Anderson’s skill as a comedian that he gets away with it with a wink and his trade-mark smile.    



at the Melbourne Town Hall until April 24, 2011
Melbourne Comedy Festival
By Joe Calleri
Published in Herald Sun Online
April 22, 2011 11:57AM

VETERAN stand-ups Glenn Robbins, Mick Molloy, and Jeff Stilson presented a packed house with a 60-minute feast of exquisitely timed, genuinely laugh-out-loud comedy.

Robbins is your laconic, charming host, who delivers his own highly polished material, some involving audience participation, before introducing Stilson and later, Molloy.

US-born, now Aussie resident Stilson looks and talks just like all good American stand-up comedians. He chats about his large family - kids are like bikers in a bar just waiting to fight - married life, and our Aussie obsession with sport.

One hilarious gag compares the methods by which the tied Grand Final and tied Federal Election were resolved. He muses what would have happened if Bob Katter had decided the outcome of the tied Grand Final!

Last but not least, Molloy. Embroiled in heavy-duty litigation in Adelaide, the often self-deprecating Molloy presents much funnier on stage than his celluloid and television personas.

He admits, remarkably, to not owning mobile phones, computers, watches, or a car, before reeling off horror tales of those unfortunates – Ricky Nixon et al - who have fallen victim to their evil mobile phones.

This skilful trio offers audiences plenty of comedic bang for their buck. Recommended!

HI IF BAR & BALLROOM, until April 24
Melbourne Comedy Festival
Reviewer: Joe Calleri on April 1, 2011
Stars: * 

Published in Herald Sun Online
Twenty minutes of Eddie Ifft’s vile, south of the navel stand-up was already too much. . Ifft’s foul-mouthed, toilet humour is better suited to a boozy, sleazy, buck’s night, or end of footy season festivities in a hot, tin shed – not an International Comedy Festival.

Ifft is an angry, not-so-young, sex-obsessed, American comic – imagine an even angrier version of Nicholas Cage.

Ifft lines up big, defenceless targets: Oprah Winfrey (”a big, fat lesbian”), and the Pope (tasteless joke about anal rape) to name but two. Ifft laughs that American audiences did not warm to his Pope joke. Some audience members found it hilarious. It’s incredible what some audiences will laugh at these days.

Madeleine Tucker's Unfashionable Windcheater Factory
Melbourne Comedy Festival
John Curtin Hotel
By Joe Calleri
Published in Herald Sun Online
April 15, 2011 4:42PM

RODNEY the Goblin, Zoran the Zucchini and Richard the Refrigerator walk into a photography exhibition featuring pictures of ears.

It’s not the opening line of a bad joke, but the opening scene of this execrable sketch show - that has no connection to the title of the show - focusing on the shambolic, embarrassing misadventures of the trio, and a Sleazy Couch, lemon-obsessed Cheese Grater, Optometrist, and Surgeon.

The performers screen three lengthy filler videos. A music clip features photos of ears and objects that sound like “ear” (beer, idea). The second shows optometrists throwing a discus during a lunch break. 

The third is a purported news story on the Toy Dinosaur Paralympics. I’m not kidding!

These young performers would be well advised to spend more time on writing and editing their material rather than producing silly movies.

I can’t imagine a target audience for this infantile drivel.  Adult audiences will cringe. Discerning toddlers and their parents will demand more for their entertainment dollar.

One star for the colourful costumes and brevity.

Star rating: *

until April 23, 2011
Melbourne Comedy Festival
Reviewer: Joe Calleri on April 3, 2011
Published in Herald Sun Online
S.O.S Wendy Harmer, Denise Scott, or other experienced comediennes. Goth stand-up, Lisa-Skye, shows great potential but desperately needs mentoring!

Skye is charming with a cheeky smile but suffers badly from nerves. She reminds me of a chef using every ingredient in a soup to make an unpalatable mess.

There are clever audio-visuals, songs to metronomes, bonboniere and her slide show about what makes a woggy house was a ripper.

But she covers too many topics. Many should be amputated from the routine, including peculiar discussions of snakes eating burlesque performers and how to handle tarantulas.

Lisa-Skye has a diamond mine of potential show material, yet we only received the cubic zirconium version.

She could go further with the Greek father who only uses cash; the manly brother who shoots innocent animals in the face; her fear of marriage and children; to her years working at a phone dating line.  More of that, please!

- Ends-

Melbourne Comedy Festival
SWISS HOUSE, until April 24, 2011
Reviewer: Joe Calleri on April 1, 2011
Stars: ** 

Published in Herald Sun Online

Tasmanian-born, gay stand-up comic, Hannah Gadsby, warns us that adrenaline makes her sleepy, so, in her comedy, she never gives 100%, but rather, 60% to 90%.

That is precisely the problem with Gadsby’s show. It’s close, but no cigar. The routine is a rambling, time-shifting travelogue through Gadsby’s life in Tasmania and Canberra but it suffers from a serious lack of self-editing.

The show could be a successful 20 minutes , but Gadsby lacks the comedic fire-power to captivate us for 60.

The understated Gadsby studied at the Woody Allen school for self-effacing, self-deprecating, self-referential comedians.

Her show contains some genuinely funny moments. The bookish-looking Gadsby (think KD Lang with Harry Potter glasses) talks about three talents that got her out of trouble at high school: whistling her esses; speaking like Donald Duck, and throat farting. Charming!

Gadsby contemplates her deathbed words and settles for “Oh, no.” If only Gadsby had kept those words in mind while culling her routine.

- Ends -
But, it’s Ifft’s tediously persistent obsession with the most sordid aspects of sex – sex toys, multiple sex partners, threesomes, pornography, unusual sexual positions, and anal sex – that were genuinely unfunny and a big turn-off.

This show is not for those with delicate dispositions so, if it’s subtle, witty, and intelligent humour you seek, look elsewhere.

- Ends -

TRADES HALL, until April 24, 2011
Melbourne Comedy Festival
Reviewer: Joe Calleri on April 2, 2011
Stars: *
Published in Herald Sun Online

If you are a card-carrying atheist, detest organised religion (especially Catholicism), believe the Bible is a weapon of mass indoctrination, and think Cardinal Pell is a buffoon, then catch Catherine Deveny’s  “God is Bullshit” lecture/vitriolic diatribe.

An unfunny, 5-minute rant about Deveny’s reversion from Catholicism to atheism at 38, stretches to an agonising hour. I didn’t laugh once during this turgid show and nor did the audience around me.

Skilled comics can be hilarious about religion, but Deveny lacks charm, subtlety, any real connection with her audience and labours under delusions that she is funny.

Her anti-religion rants are no more meaningful and insightful than those of the religious zealots she loathes.

The only highlight was Deveny’s screening of excerpts from an actual Q&A episode featuring famous atheist, Richard Dawkins (Catherine’s idol), butting heads with Fundamentalist Christian, Senator Steven Fielding.

Deveny’s de-baptising routine is plain offensive. She exhorts the audience – who follow like sheep - to recite lines to de-baptise themselves.

Catherine, if there is a Comedy Hell, your accommodation awaits. But, since you don’t believe in Hell, it’s off to limbo with you!


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