Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Monday, 10 April 2017
Stand Up For Mehdi, April 10, 2017 ***1/2
committed comics use their material for good in a one-off charity show to raise
funds for the Human Rights Law Centre. Melbourne International Comedy Festival Australian & International acts Lower Melbourne Town Hall, one night only, April 10,
2017 Stars: ***1/2 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Review also published in Herald Sun Arts online on April 11, 2017
Iranian comedian Mehdi Savari
Monday is the comedians’ night off, but eight
committed comics take to the stage on their precious off-night to use their
material for good in a charity show to raise funds for the Human Rights Law
Stand Up For Mehdi, hosted by Tom Ballard, is a
tribute to Mehdi Savari, an Iranian comedian who became a refugee and has been
detained on Manus Island for nearly four years.
Tom Ballard is the show’s fast-moving, cheerfully
wicked MC, and his acerbic and funny opening routine shines a bright light on
the flaws in Australia’s treatment of refugees, with a particularly severe view
of our Minister for Immigration.
Ballard accompanies his rapid rant with a slide show
of entertaining images as well as some snaps of a smiling Mehdi.
The first of the overseas acts is David O’Doherty, a
droll Irishman who underscores his witty ramblings with hilarious backing music
on a keyboard that perches on his lap. O’Doherty is avidly trying to be hauled
in by Customs at our airport so he can feature on Border Security.
Two local comics follow: Judith Lucy is as laconic and
dry-witted as ever with her fractured tales of ageing and about her (much)
younger boyfriend, while Claire Hooper bemoans the travails of being a mum with
two kids – two is enough, it seems.
South African comic, Loyiso Gola, bluntly and
hilariously tells us Aussies to stop bloody complaining about every little
thing when we have such a great life. So it’s raining! It’s just rain!
Next, Sami Shah, who is formerly from Pakistan, explains
that Mehdi’s name means ‘the one who comes to save the world’.
The inimitable UK comic, Daniel Kitson, brings his
gentle cynicism and fierce intellect to seven minutes, much shorter than his
usual ‘powerful, long-form narrative’ shows, but he is both wildly entertaining
and challenging in these few minutes musing on social change.
Musical trio, Tripod, closes the show with three
songs, one telling us that Santa is an unwanted refugee and a final, original
tune that is a moving reminder about living behind bars and craving freedom.
If we are no yet sufficiently reminded of our
privileged lives, Daniel Webb from the Human Right Law Centre delivers an
address about refugees and reads a moving message from Mehdi who hopes to join
us at the Comedy Festival in 2018 – if he is released from Manus Island by then.