Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director; produced playwright (21 plays). Scripts pub. Currency Press. She worked as actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate was Head of Drama/Teacher, NMIT; Coordinator of Prof. Writing/ Editing, Swinburne Uni. Read her reviews here or: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Sunday, 27 March 2016
Justin Hamilton in Hoot, March 26, 2016 ***
Melbourne International Comedy Festival Cloak Room, Melbourne Town Hall, until Sat
April 16 (Saturdays only) Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars:*** Review also in Herald Sun Com Fest review page on Sun March 27, 2016. KH
Justin Hamilton is a rambling philosopher comedian and inveterate
navel-gazer who muses on his own shortcomings and obsessions in his show, Hoot.
There are some hoots in Hoot, although the title refers less
to laughter and more to Hamilton’s childhood memory about... No spoilers.
Hamilton’s stage persona and style of comic delivery shift at
will from cheerfully chirpy to brusque, from vulnerable and insecure to abrasively
smug and a bit too pleased with himself.
His move from Melbourne to Sydney is a key topic, as is his personal
struggle with mild, floating depression that interferes with his life by
keeping him trapped inside his own head.
If this all sounds too dark, remember that comedy often emerges
from adversity or intimate revelations and Hamilton uses both.
After having a go at the familiar topics of exorbitant rents
in Sydney, breakfast shows and the pervasive virus that is reality television,
Hamilton tears a few strips off Warney and his new-found status on a celebrity TV
show and his kids’ charity.
Cue groans and claps from the audience.
A large chunk of Hamilton’s comic material is devoted to people’s
obsession with that other contagious virus called social media.
A big hit with the crowd is his rapid-fire routine that
tracks one idiot’s sleepless, 24-hour social media cycle as he (Is it
Hamilton?) tweets, likes, posts, rants and trolls his way through a day with no
real social contact except buying his lunch - then photographing it.
Hamilton’s very cool, funny and youthful mum’s antics are a
recurring topic while he also gets laughs from stories about his unconscious
jaywalking, computer rage and booking Uber cars.
But Hamilton’s longest and most serious musings are about a lifelong
devotion, from a distance and up close, to his musical hero, David Bowie and this
final material is a moving, albeit not necessarily funny tribute to Bowie and
Although his comic material and show structure need
tightening, Hamilton’s passion for Bowie is perhaps his most attractive trait
and shows this philosopher-comic in the most positive light.