Friday 29 March 2019

Reviews: Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2019 (Part 1)

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is on again, and Narrelle Harris and I have been seeing shows. Here's our first set of reviews for 2019...

1. Where They Hide the Crazy
Reviewed by Narrelle Harris

The Northern Territory has a problem - its population is declining. Amy Hetherington is on a national tour to hunt for people who might fit in with the Darwin vibe. People who can cope with the humidity, take pride in weird things and find their ‘boundless possible’ there.

Hetherington plays with our stereotypes of what we think the Territory, and Territory people, are like, via self-deprecating charm (“In Darwin, I’m a Ten!”) and rough edges; reminiscent of Fiona O’Loughlin’s take on Alice Springs. She’s pretty clued up on other places, though, with her wicked take on Australian cities as people trying to get picked up at Revolver.

Territory Pride, the challenges of getting sexy when it’s always humid, an engineer’s solution to getting out of a sports bra, and knowing how someone is The One are topics explored as Hetherington seeks candidates to join her in the sultry north. She’s confident, occasionally scatological and good fun.

I’m still not moving to the NT though.

[Find details and buy tix for this show here]

2. What Would Bill Murray Do?
Reviewed by Tim Richards

The titles of Comedy Festival shows are thought up so far ahead, you often can't judge the resulting book by its cover. That seems the case with this show, which only has a passing reference or two to Bill Murray.

David Tieck is a beardy clown on the stage, at times imitating Chewbacca, Santa, and a plumper Jesus. He has an over-the-top, childlike stage persona which acts out a series of scenarios, involving a celebrity panda topped by a snow leopard hat; the theatre safety nurse; and a guy who’s in love with everything. The finale of the show is the rapid-fire completion of a list of 37 fun things, in order to discover the secret of life.

Though I like a bit of absurdity, the material feels undeveloped, undirected and too reliant on silliness rather than well-timed absurdity. As a result it's at best whimsical and lightly amusing, rather than surreal and edgy. If that’s your bag, it might work for you as an early-evening Comedy Festival entree.

[Find details and buy tix for this show here]

3. A Man For Two Seasons
Reviewed by Tim Richards

British comedian Gordon Southern doesn't like the cold, so he spends his years jetting around the world, following the festival circuit so he's always in the warmer months. Those peregrinations form the backbone of his story over the last fifteen years, as he married and divorced an Adelaide girl along the way.

It's a tale with a darker edge, as he's dealt with depression and its suicidal impulses in transit. That may make it sound a serious show, but in fact it's very funny as Southern relates the odder aspects of the therapy which helped him through his crisis. From one uptight therapist who turned out to be his neighbour, to a more fun-loving therapist who turned out to be dodgy as hell, it's an entertaining saga that provokes plenty of laughs.

It wouldn't work without an energetic delivery, and we get that in spades. Aided by a series of mood-tinted light changes, Southern expertly takes us through his flawed life with a warmth and relatability that's both funny and moving.

[Find details and buy tix for this show here]

More reviews next week. Enjoy the festival! 

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