Monday, 30 March 2015

Gillian Cosgriff in Whelmed, 29 March 2015 ***

Trades Hall, Music Room, until 19 April 2015
Melbourne Comedy Festival 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Full review also published in Herald Sun on 30 March 2015. KH

Gillian Cosgriff's musical comedy talents are manifold and her original songs are the highlight of her show, Whelmed.

Seated at her Roland keyboard, she opens with her song, This Bit Is Not In The Show, a cunning little jazz tune with clever lyrics that provide warnings about potentially offensive material (there isn't really any), exit doors and the merciful lack of strobe effects or smoke machines. 

Between her cleverly composed songs, Cosgriff, who is in her 20s, delivers standard stand-up material in her particular, nervy, rapid-fire style of banter.

She prattles about begin borderline Obsessive Compulsive, an over-achiever and procrastinator (Her hybrid word being procrast-achiever), a combination that makes it almost impossible for her to sit down and write a song because it needs to be perfect!

She admits that she fritters her time away on Facebook, justifying the time-wasting by asking Facebook friends to make suggestions about their irrational fears so she can use them in her songs.

She also Googles random topics and this habit provides material for her witty song, Inspiration, that criticises privileged people and their obsession with Twitter hash tags and snappy epithets about positive thinking, such as Thinspiration or Fitspiration.

Her tune about health fads provides plenty of mad facts about things that are purported to be good for us, such as juice fasts and old-fashioned medicines that included heroin and cocaine.

Accompanied by one of the 300 electronic sounds on her keyboard – it's called In The Groove – she correctly answers a pop quiz about capital cities of obscure nations. She gets all 10 right! 

Her song about Things That Are Bad For You slaps all those internet sites on which charlatans shout about what's bad for us, and her tune about people giving awful gifts highlights her story about The Ugliest Bag in The World that her mother made for her.

Whelmed, she says, is an old sailors' term that describes water swelling almost to the gunwales (top) of a ship but not pouring into the boat. Cosgriff uses this as a metaphor for just coping with life but not being overwhelmed.

Cosgriff is at her best when she is performing her intelligently written songs and I did go home singing her final tune, You'll Be Singing This Song When You Leave The Show. I can't get it out of my head!

By Kate Herbert

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