Monday, 18 April 2011

Melbourne Comedy Festival 2011: REVIEWS, April, 2011

 Darren Freak in Freakuent Flyer
  • Kate Herbert
  • From: Herald Sun
  • April 14, 2011 3:53PM
Darren Freak in Freakuent Flyer at the Hotel Discovery until April 19, 2011
As we trail the corridors of the Discovery Hotel looking for Darren Freak’s venue, we smell the unmistakable scent of beer-soaked carpet and sense the air of desperation from young, penniless travellers scarfing microwaved noodles and hauling 15 backpacks.

Freak spends plenty of time in airports, on international flights, in foreign cities and in backpackers’ hotels. It makes sense his solo stand-up show is in a scruffy, backroom cinema in a Melbourne backpackers’ hotel.

He has some good material about travelling, tour groups, airline safety and shared accommodation, but it would be best edited to a tight 20 minutes. When he relaxes and engages directly with us he is at his funniest.

His material about his Sound of Music tour in Salzburg is funny and one song that gets laughs is These Are a Few of My Favourite Things about Salzburg brothels.

His photos of Austrian warning signs are a hoot, including one that seems to indicate mountaineering on trains.
Freak’s songs, although some have amusing lyrics, need to be excised completely – unless he can get someone to write better music or sing them for him.

Star rating: **

 The Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour
  • Kate Herbert
  • From: Herald Sun
  • April 14, 2011 4:03PM 
The Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour until April 23, 2011

THE Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour is more museum tour than comedy. The gags may be old but the exhibits are even older, given the Earth is more than three billion years old.

After dividing the audience into groups, three guides (Ben McKenzie, Stella Young, Kate McLennan) lead each group in turn through their special museum room.

Young’s tour is the funniest, with witty quips about animals in the taxidermist’s dream room, a gallery decorated with shelves of stuffed beasts.

McLennan, playing a cheeky six-year old, leads us through the children’s gallery. Many of her jokes are lost between the circuitous gallery corridors.
In McKenzie’s tour of the exhibit, 600 Million Years: Victoria Evolves, we see interesting samples of local fossils but, with such a large group, it is impossible to see or hear everything.

The tour needs a restructure to increase the comedy level, reduce the groups, address audibility issues or even stop groups in one location to ensure everyone can see and hear.

Star rating: **

 Amelia Jane Hunter in Dear Endora
  • Kate Herbert
  • From: Herald Sun
  • April 12, 2011 3:43PM

Amelia Jane Hunter in Dear Endora at Trades Hall until April 24, 2011

TALL, striking, acerbic, agony aunt, Endora (Amelia Jane Hunter) suffered her own agonies on this night. A show-stopping fire alarm – not a joke - saw the complete evacuation of Trades Hall five minutes after the start. With the help of enough hairspray to decimate the ozone layer and a couple or 10 bracing glasses of cure-all chardonnay, Endora survived the near-calamity with graceful aplomb.

Endora has flaws to drive a truck through, including her boozing and wardrobe malfunction. She sports an appalling two-piece, plaid, polyester, hipster pantsuit that reveals her knickers.

She is at her funniest when dispensing crazed, homespun advice to the lovelorn, desperate, lost folk who make the serious miscalculation of writing to seek her advice.

Endora offers her pointed insights into everything: dangers of Botox, perils of cruise ships, sex tours, Relationships Australia and why Anthony Robbins is a fake. New-age psychics, shonky spiritual healers and self-help gurus also feel the sting of Endora’s verbal whip, during her unhappy stint as host at a hippie festival.

The first 20 minutes is smart, sharp and funny but tighter editing could transform Dear Endora into a winner.

Star rating: **

The Lemon-Lime Funtacular Occurence Hour Right On with Ryan Withers
  • Kate Herbert
  • From: Herald Sun
  • April 12, 2011 4:30PM 
The Lemon-Lime Funtacular Occurence Hour Right On with Ryan Withers at Softbelly Bar until April 24, 2011

RYAN Withers’ Lemon-Line Funtacular leaves us with several unanswered questions: who the heck is Mrs Funberries and why does an hour of unfunny, ill-conceived and juvenile humour feel like a lifetime? Withers – who resembles Ron Weasley – and his offsider, Shane Matheson, have the misguided chutzpah to serve us a shambolic, half-baked, variety show. 

They spent plenty of time creating video and Powerpoint slides, but they need to spend more time writing, editing or having a director shape their material and performances. They try hard on stage but, unfortunately, nothing works as comedy.
Lemon-Lime contains a mish-mash of one-liner gags, impressions, clips from a fictional documentary, and an awful, musical version of “Lethal Weapon” that, in the right hands, could be a riot.

Apart from laughs of bemusement at the lack of skill, my only laugh was at a slide of Withers’ missing pet ibis, Shadrack.
Ryan and Shane, something that seems funny over a few beers with your mates doesn’t necessarily make a comedy show.

Star rating: *

The Etiquette Hour With Lady Cordelia Winterbottom
  • Kate Herbert
  • From: Herald Sun
  • April 07, 2011 2:37PM 
The Etiquette Hour With Lady Cordelia Winterbottom at Footscray Community Arts Centre until April 23, 2011

ISABEL Hertaeg’s alter ego, the smug and superior etiquette expert, Lady Cordelia Winterbottom, is a character with plenty of comic potential. Some of it is fulfilled in The Etiquette Hour. The show starts well, but loses its way and runs out of steam. It would make a better tight 30 minutes than the current loose, slow-moving hour.

Toffy-nosed Lady C, with her rounded vowels and clipped consonants, dressed in ruffled blouse, pearls and flowered pillbox hat, instructs us in the delicate art of etiquette. She educates us about the niceties of life such as elocution, cake-baking, catching a man or dealing with bores. She quotes hilarious excerpts from real etiquette experts: Barbara Cartland, Princess Beris Kandaouroff and even Cosmopolitan.

The show crescendos when this entertainingly patronising parody of a British upper-class twit reveals her barely disguised, inner tart. She tears off her blouse and explodes into a trashy burlesque act while singing Tom Lehrer’s Masochism Tango.
She really is just a hussy-baggage from Bacchus Marsh or a tart from Traralgon.

Star rating: **

Review: David Quirk: The Day I Ate Wombat
  • Kate Herbert
  • From: Herald Sun
  • April 07, 2011 4:50PM

David Quirk: The Day I Ate Wombat, at the Portland Hotel until April 24, 2011

DAVID Quirk has a killer smile – but he doesn’t use it until the very end of his stand-up routine. If he switched it on at frequent intervals during his show, the Charm-o-Meter would go off the scale.

Quirk is not a quirky comic but, rather, a good-looking bloke yarning over a beer. His style involves intimate storytelling and the show is built around his unforgettable, teenage experience eating green wombat stew by a campfire, beside two rivers, in the sticks where he lived.

His material has plenty of comic potential. His stories about working in retail and approaching customers with almost inaudible obscenities embedded in the greeting are funny and credible. He talks about his sleeptalking in bed, being dacked by your mates in inappropriate situations, “twinsest” (incest between twins) and an urban myth about grandma’s dead dog.
He gets a few big laughs from his comparison of relationships with working on an oil-rig.  

Though he misses opportunities for more frequent gags and sometimes waffles before getting to the tagline, he is smart and engaging. But, Dave, sharpen the material and turn on that killer smile and you’ll go into the stratosphere.

Star rating: ***

Review: Ross Daniels in Punked
  • Kate Herbert
  • From: Herald Sun
  • April 05, 2011 6:33PM

Ross Daniels in Punked at Footscray Community Arts Centre until April 23 

IF YOU remember the 1970s Punk revolution – well, I guess you didn’t take enough drugs or get kicked in the head by cops.

Ross Daniels’ slick, inventive show, Punked, about his teenage, punk music experience in conservative 1970s Brisbane, is a skilful collision of stand-up, characters and theatrical storytelling. We even get to write an original punk song called I Hate My Life.

Daniels cunningly peoples the stage with characters, shifting physically and vocally to conjure his grandparents, punk mate Dave Death, thick cops, the late Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen and that other babbler, Molly Meldrum.

We witness 16-year-old Daniels’ wide-eyed astonishment when he first hears the raucous music of The Sex Pistols on Countdown. It nearly gives grandad a heart attack.

We laugh at his evocative descriptions of The Stranglers’ concert, the riot when the Blondie gig was cancelled and Tommo, the pinball playing, teenage, Greek oracle who miraculously knew about 4ZZZ-FM and the Buzzcocks’ new single.

But there are dark stories. Brisbane was home to corrupt government and coppers, and Daniels’ memories of police brutality during a street march are chilling.

Star rating: ****

Review: Asher Treleaven: Matadoor

  • Kate Herbert
  • From: Herald Sun
  • April 05, 2011 12:00AM

Asher Treleaven: Matadoor, at Melbourne Town Hall, until April 24. 

ASHER Treleaven sums up what he considers the most successful material for a comic: a balance of socially responsible rhetoric and rude jokes.

In his new stand-up show Matadoor, he cleverly uses both to expose and attack the ugly and pervasive racism in Australia.
Treleaven's performance had an edge of discomfort at first, but relaxing, his energy escalated, and he prowled the stage like a lanky praying mantis.

He takes comical swipes at his favourite targets (bigots and racists) and has endless examples of people's irrational hatred of other races, cultures, colours and religions. Racist slogans on bumper stickers and T-shirts combine two of Treleaven's pet hates: bogans and poor grammar.

His tale of being lost and drunk at night in the Thai jungle while clothed only in Speedos is a doozy, but his bullfight with his family's angry ram takes the crazy, physical comedy prize for the show.

Star rating: * * *




No comments:

Post a Comment