Thursday, 17 April 2014

Upfront, Melbourne Comedy Festival ***

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Melbourne Town Hall, April 16 only
Stars: ***1/2
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Full review also in Herald Sun online, Thurs April 17, 2014. KH

 A mixed bag of gags and giggles from 20 gals
Geraldine Quinn, host of Upfront

Get your laughing gear on – ‘cos Upfront showcases some top female, comic talent from the 2014 Comedy Festival. 

At the top of the show and again after interval, host Geraldine Quinn, belts out a hot, rock tune with her band, Spandex Ballet, then provides swift introductions to each act.

Although the quality is uneven amongst the 20 acts and the second half runs way to long for comfort, there are many highlights.

Celia Pacquola rants about hoarders in a tight, funny five minutes, Felicity Ward takes a comedy hatchet to Aussie bigotry, and Rebecca Di Unamuno wows the audience with her totally improvised Shakespeare scene.

Smart, cool Sara Pascoe charms with her bent logic and material about women’s bodies, then the first half closes with Adrienne Truscott’s off-the-wall, burlesque routine that makes cake-baking look dangerous.

After such a crisp, taut and sassy 65 minute first half, it is frustrating that many acts went well over five minutes in the second half, although there were still plenty of punchy acts.

Hannah Gadsby’s routine is confident and intelligent with a satirical eye on some nasty abuse on social media, then Cal Wilson entertains in character as a daggy, wacko poet who reads her abominable but funny verses about cats and other annoying things.

Em Rusciano, accompanied by her dad on guitar (Yeah, really!), delivers acerbic songs from her show, Divorce The Musical, Sarah Kendall shatters the illusion of perfume ads, while Catherine Deveney dispels myths about modern childrearing.

There are plenty of other women who deliver the goods and a few who miss the mark in this program but, if you don’t like one act, wait 6 minutes and there’s another - but you’ll have to wait until next year now.

By Kate Herbert

 Celia Pacquola

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