MICF 2016: Rose Callaghan’s ROSE BEFORE HOES

Immensely likable and definitely laughable comedy

By Caitlin McGrane

After sell-out shows at the Perth Fringe Festival, Rose Callaghan brings her frenetically energetic show Rose Before Hoes to her home city of Melbourne. Previously called Attention Deficit… Ooh a Pony!, the show is about Callaghan being diagnosed with ADHD last year, and her dating experiences as a single women in her 30s.

Rose Before Hoes

Callaghan is wonderfully likeable and her visible nervousness only made her more so. I found the show refreshingly discursive, which was aided by the impossibly small venue meaning Callaghan could authentically react and interact with the audience. A couple of lines landed poorly and Callaghan skilfully admitted they were ‘bad jokes’ and moved on. I just really hope Callaghan’s mum and her friends come every night so other audiences get to see her interacting with them, because it was a true highlight.

The only moments when Callaghan looked uncomfortable or unsure were when she was talking about her ADHD diagnosis. As with Hannah Gadsby last year, it was fist-punching-the-air brilliant to hear a woman talking about disability and mental illness with a poignant sense of humour. However, Callaghan’s material didn’t seem to be as sharp as her dating material, of which I could have easily watched another hour. It seemed as though Callaghan was reluctant to rely too heavily on stereotypes and stock jokes about ADHD, which was certainly appreciated, but the jokes just weren’t as tight or witty as they could perhaps have been.

As a single young woman, I am no stranger to the horrors of online dating, so the second half of the show really resonated. Callaghan seemed more comfortable in this territory, and she really started to shine when she spoke about the wildly inappropriate yet also downright lazy efforts men go to to lure you into bed. Any woman who’s been on Tinder for more than ten minutes is liable to get whiplash from nodding her head so much.

Comedy is a real boys’ club, and seeing Callaghan on stage demonstrated that the tide is turning towards real, honest female comedy that isn’t either aiming to please everyone or willing to be silent about issues that really affect women, which can only be a good thing.

Rose Before Hoes is showing at 6pm at the Forum Theatre’s Carpet Room until 17 April 2016. Tickets here: http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/rose-before-hoes-rose-callaghan