Tag: Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2016

MICF 2016: Zoe McDonald in GOOD MORNING MOFO

Promising characters invite solid laughs

By Myron My

Zoe McDonald’s one-woman, multiple-character comedy show Good Morning Mofo begins before it even begins. As we enter the “studio”, Channel 8 intern, Jenny, “who’s not getting paid but really happy to be here” anxiously seats everyone and ensures all health and safety issues are recognised and everyone is comfortable. After a brief audience warm-up, Channel 8’s morning show Brunch begins with host, Chloe Davis, introducing us to Women’s Week, where the whole week of episodes  will be devoted to issues that are important to women. A whole week!

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The sly and satirical ‘hot’ topics include how bad invisible panty lines are, and how to lessen the harsh reality of laugh-lines on your face. McDonald introduces us to a variety of women both in front and behind the camera of Brunch, including weather reporter Rochelle, Pamela from wardrobe and Anita from make-up.

McDonald does stellar work with her slick impersonations and the voice and demeanour of Chloe Davis in particular feel very real, as if she actually belongs in a TV show that is the love child of 60 Minutes and Frontline. This is where the humour in the show really finds its stride and feels less forced than at other times. The subtle anxieties that Davis feels about her career and future employment opportunities could even have been explored further though as they seemed to bubble on the surface of something much more poignant.

It is clear and worthwhile what McDonald is trying to say about the representation and treatment of women in the news and entertainment industry: however, by having so many characters appear throughout the one-hour show, the script feels a little disjointed and the connections we seek with the characters don’t always manifest.

I felt the $10,000 cash-prize phone call segments between Davis and “bogan” winner Jessica Murphy could easily have been removed without impacting the show in a negative way. The scenes with the talent agent brought to the surface the issues older women face in a seemingly younger woman’s world, but the extreme way in which she was portrayed made her feel less genuine and sympathetic as a person and more of an overt caricature.

Good Morning Mofo does well in providing the laughs to the audience as it portrays a variety of interesting women all trying to make it in the cutthroat television industry and struggling to be treated as equals regardless of gender, age or appearance. With some refinement over whose story McDonald is working to explore, these important concerns will become stronger, clearer and resonate even more with the audience.

Good Morning Mofo was performed at the Malthouse Theatre as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival between 23 March – 17 April.

MICF 2016: Shirley Gnome is REAL MATURE

Frankly adult fun!

By Joana Simmons

After ripping up Adelaide and Perth Fringes, Shirley Gnome: Real Mature, was specially invited by this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival to charm our pants off with her songs and stories about things you do with your pants off. Her show is mostly about sex – but honest and hilarious rather than obscene. Combining her sheer musical talent on the vocals and acoustic guitar with her relatable rappore, make Gnome mistake, it’s one hot package.

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“Real Mature” is an appropriate title for a realistic modern-gal’s view on some relatively adult topics. Beneath the bedsheets her clever songs stroke themes of empowerment, political satire, and pop parody. This cheeky Canadian thinks the things, feels the feely feels, and puts them out there in the show sprinkled with glitter, charisma and some bootscootin’ country singing. Let me say Adele’s “Someone Like You” will never sound the same to me again.

It’s restoring seeing a woman stand up for the pure pleasure that the horizontal hokey-tokie can be, with all its’ body hair, un-photoshopped noises and nuances, and Shirley’s chatter between songs was amusing and natural. She’s banging good at doin’ it. Performing I mean. And probably “it” too. Spice up your weekend with some afternoon delight and get to The Butterfly Club with a show at 5.30 for two more nights.

Shirley Gnome: Real Mature

Dates: April 15 – 17

Time: 5:30pm

Cost: $25-32

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne

Tickets: thebutterflyclub.com

MICF 2016: Corey White in THE CANE TOAD EFFECT

Bringing remarkable laughs from dark places

By Christine Young

There’s a winsome innocence and softness in the expression on Corey White’s face in the promotional photo for The Cane Toad Effect. White’s innocence and trust were torn away from him multiple times as a child but he hasn’t lost his sense of humour or his soft edge. He is fresh-faced and positive for someone who has every reason to be bitter and jaded.

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The premise of The Cane Toad Effect is that, like the introduction of cane toads to far north Queensland, there have been unintended consequences of his upbringing. White talks about his childhood with a Dad who’s a violent criminal; a Mum who’s addicted to heroin; and being abused while living with a foster family. That’s not even the half of it.
Sounds like a real laugh-a-minute, doesn’t it? It actually is.

White maintains a steady balance between the shades of dark and light in his material. He gets it. People are there to laugh and he manages to find the humorous side in situations that are otherwise inherently sad and awful.

White has created a well thought-out and structured show that plays for laughs but also has some sombre moments. There was one moment where I had tears in my eyes and then seconds later I was giggling again.

There is great skill in being able to tell stories with just the right amount of pathos and humour. White’s honesty is refreshing and gives his stories depth and substance.
Sometimes the humour is quite dark. However, in such a dense show, there were only a couple of punchlines that were received with silence.

White’s show offers an important insight into the state of state care and the ongoing physical and mental consequences of childhood neglect and trauma.

And amazingly  it still delivers lots of laughs.

Where: Forum Theatre (downstairs), Corner of Russell and Flinders Streets, Melbourne

When: Until Sat. 16 April at 7pm; final show at 6pm on Sunday 17 April

Tickets: $20-$30 www.comedyfestival.com.au or Ticketmaster 1300 660 013

MICF 2016: Lockwood Productions Presents I (HONESTLY) LOVE YOU

Loveable love story plays well for laughs

By Joana Simmons

“The naked truth is always better than the best-dressed lie.” – Ann Landers

Or is it? What if the naked truth is all you have? I (Honestly) Love You has played at Edinburgh Fringe and New York Fringe and is here to tickle the National Theatre stage and make audiences giggle and squirm with satisfaction with its not-so-conventional but oh-so-comedic tale of what happens when two people with a rare psychological condition that prohibits them from telling the truth fall madly in love.

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We are introduced to the story and told love can be “everything and nothing at the same time.” In front of a calendar backdrop with certain relationship milestones on particular dates the story ensues with sharp witty dialogue and some interesting audience interaction. If reality TV has taught us anything, it’s that it’s not necessarily what happens in reality that is exciting, but relationships- and a relationship built on complete honesty (“yes, your butt does look big in that” “I hate cricket”) is both heart-warming and hilarious.

The show has Melbourne actors Jimmy James Eaton and George Gayler in the lead roles and supported by Talei Howell- Price and Damon Lockwood– also playwright and director. Howell-Price and Lockwood do a stellar job of playing multiple supporting roles, sometimes within the same scene, which are exquisitely defined, physically and vocally. Easton’s comic timing and larger-than-life facial expressions make his eruptions of truth gut-busting and cringe-worthy in all the best ways, and Gayler gives an authentic and (obviously) honest portrayal of a woman who meets a guy she just wants to make it work with, and is an tasteful match to her onstage love.

This is the first show I’ve seen with so much thought and attention to detail put into the stage and costume design, and Cherie Hewson, the creator responsible, can’t go with out commendation. This clever, well-seasoned production will gently pluck your heart strings, question your morals and put the laugh in love. It’s great! (Honestly).

Venue: The National Theatre, St Kilda

Dates: 13 – 16 April 2016

Time: 7.30pm

Tickets: $25

Bookings: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.au


Move over Godot

By Joana Simmons

This year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival brings a host of big names, the greats of comedy and television. George and Pam are going to host the BIGGEST name – Australia’s favourite actor of the stage and screen- Sir Geoffrey Rush. George & Pam: In Conversation with Sir Geoffrey Rush is a brand new, absurdist character comedy starring siblings Pam (Arts Administrator) and George (Administrator of the Arts.) As the middle-aged Camberwell-born and bred duo prepares to interview their – our – esteemed guest, they shine a laughable and lovable light on theatre, fandom and the arts in all its absurdity.

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Like a gingernut complements a cup of tea; these idiosyncratic individuals complement each other. Their storytelling and transitions to reenactments through song and voice overs is seamless and hilarious. The thing that struck me the most was how natural and believable the characters are for people who are so batty and absurd. I guess it shows there’s these little twists in all of us, and shows us how talented and clever the brains and bodies behind this operation are. Written and performed by Australian comedians Anna O’Bryan (Al & Anna’s Music Rant) and Sam Rankin (Wake Up, Sheeple!) and directed by award-winning Rachel Davis (EDGE!, Best Comedy, Melbourne Fringe 2013; Weekly Award, Adelaide Fringe 2014), it shows us that two/three heads are better than one. (Unless the one head is Sir Geoffrey’s)

It was Monday night, I’ve got a cold from the late nights of comedy and early mornings of writing and I honestly felt like climbing in a cocoon of tissues and hot toddies. It took about 30 seconds to change my mind. There’s not many days left of this festival, if you feel like you have heard every joke about Tinder, Tony Abbot and topics of the year, then you are in for a real treat, as George and Pam: In Conversation with Sir Geoffrey Rush is refreshingly sharp and witty. There’s no forced laughs or fizzles, it’s delightfully different and it’s a “YES” from me.

Venue: The Tuxedo Cat

Dates: Thursday 7th – Sunday 17th April (excluding Wednesday 13th April)

Time: 8:30pm (Sundays 7:30pm)

Tickets: Con $15, Full $20, Group of 4 + $10

Bookings: http://www.trybooking.com/175050

MICF 2016: Simon Godfrey in DESTINY RACER

Turbo-charged comedy is a real winner

By Christine Young

With over 500 shows being staged at the 2016 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, there are bound to be many stinkers, and loads of punters who do exactly that – take a punt – and go home with a lighter pocket and a darker soul.

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This reviewer has way too many stinkers under her belt to sugar-coat anything, so let me say – attending Simon Godfrey’s Destiny Racer offers the complete opposite experience.

Godfrey is a dexterous performer who embodies around twenty characters (most of them humans) to tell the story of racing driver Jean Shaffer coming out of exile to race in the prestigious Le Mans 24-hour car race. But the car-racing world has changed and Jean struggles to accept borderline rocket-ship cars and the assurances of ‘Safety Steve’ that the spectators in the stands are adequately protected with large bales of hay.

Set in the 1950s, Destiny Racer plays with a range of cultural stereotypes and storytelling norms which is clever, funny and often downright silly. Godfrey’s ability to switch between characters (which includes accents, voice tone and mannerisms) is captivating. In fact the story itself plays second-fiddle to the diverse range of characters that are conjured up over the 50-minute show. Not to mention the eyebrows. Godfrey’s eyebrows are a force unto themselves.

My initial assumption that this show would not be my cup of tea was clearly wrong and superficial. This not-so-minor personal detail made the show all the more enjoyable. Plus it’s genuinely funny and Godfrey is the talented, multi-skilled performer that you often won’t find at the small venues during the Comedy Festival. Destiny Racer could just as easily prosper in a larger venue. Out of the more intimate comedy shows, it’s definitely worth checking out Simon Godfrey‘s excellent work, safe in the knowledge that you won’t be getting a stinker.

Where: Tuxedo Cat, 293-299 La Trobe St, Melbourne

When: Tues-Sat 7.15pm; Sun 6.15pm

Tickets: $16-$22  www.comedyfestival.com.au or Ticketmaster 1300 660 013

MICF 2016: Tanyalee Davis in ACTUAL SIZE

Frankly fun and funny

By Margaret Wieringa

The stereo is pumping Justin Timberlake, and Tanyalee Davis is already on the stage as the audience wander in to the Upstairs Lounge at Little Sista in Little Collins St. She sits, bopping away to the tunes and greeting people as they come in, encouraging people to sit right down the front – something many comedy audiences avoid like the plague. Instead, Davis quickly engages the audience, and from the moment we arrive, we feel welcome.

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Davis is an observational comedienne, and hence much of her show is about her everyday life, but she comes to it from a different perspective. See, Tanyalee Davis is a short-statured woman, so as the punning title of her show Actual Size suggests, much of her material deals with life as a little person (the politically correct term in America, we informed, while Britain uses person of restricted growth – though I also prefer Australia’s person of small stature).

So in her job as a performer Davis has had the opportunity to travel the world, and tells of adventures like swimming with manatees and dolphins  – and how hilarious situations ensue from doing so with her stature (ever wondered if large bottoms cause people to sink or float? Davis will give you the hysterical story to prove the theory!)

Unfortunately, I don’t think 6:30 is the best slot for her, only because she likes to work a little blue, and I think that there were members in the audience who either didn’t get her winks and nudges, or possibly just didn’t like them. I would have loved to see her play a later spot and really let herself go. 

Actual Size is on for the next week, playing through to the end of the Comedy Festival. Grab a beer at the bar downstairs and then head up for a real fun show.

Where:  The Upstairs Lounge @ Little Sista, 240 Little Collins St

When: Tues – Sun 6:30 March 24 – April 17

Tickets: http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/actual-size-tanyalee-davis

MICF 2016: Charlie Pickering’s HOW TO TAME A WILD SQUIRREL

Clever and charismatic fun

By Jessica Cornish

Charlie Pickering’s How To Tame A Wild Squirrel is showing for just one more Thursday evening at the Comedy Theatre as part of this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

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In his first stand-up show for several years, Charlie easily and amusingly interacted with his audience, and did especially well dealing with the influx of latecomers. He cleverly weaved their stories into one another, managing to keep his audience entertained rather than annoyed at the general lack of punctuality.

Admittedly, his show wasn’t exactly what I expected, knowing him principally as I do for his television work. I wasn’t quite prepared for the moderate use of expletives that would just appear in and out of dialogue, for example. I know comedians generally love to throw in an f-bomb, but in my mind, news reporter Charlie Pickering would be a bit different!

The show included an appealing  mixture of personal narratives and broader observations, specifically around the themes of racism and the fickle beast that is the internet. He comically explored how it has changed all our lives drastically- sometimes for the better and at times for the worse. He also threw in some vivid and impressive voice impersonations, switching effortlessly through a myriad of news character personas which were thoroughly enjoyed by the crowd. Whilst there was a loose theme running through the show, he would sometimes lose focus and saddle up onto another topic before the other had been resolved, which felt occasionally disconcerting.

Under his sway, the theatre had a warm intimate feel to it and Charlie seemed very comfortable in the performance space, moving extensively across the stage. He definitely would have benefited from using a hands-free mic however, as a couple of times he came close to stumbling on the long cord wrapped around his foot, and turning his sharp witty comedy into slapstick!

His show wrap-up was a highlight, with hilarious stories bordering on the absurd. In fact the whole row in which I was sitting broke out in uproarious laughter, and it seemed a shame to be so suddenly ending as the hour came by. How To Tame A Wild Squirrel is well worth a peek at Pickering in person, to get a different perspective of the well-known TV entertainer back to his roots as a stand-up solo comic.

DATE: Thursday 14 April
VENUE: The Comedy Theatre
ADDRESS: 240 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

TICKETS: http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/how-to-tame-a-wild-squirrel-charlie-pickering


MICF 2016: Reuben Kaye in PLUGGED

Brilliantly lavish and chaotic cabaret comedy

By Bradley Storer

From the moment he raced into the showroom of The Butterfly Club, Reuben Kaye – Australian-born international cabaret star – was ablaze with demonic energy, clothed in a dazzling sequin dinner jacket and working the crowd from the get-go. After drawing the crowd in with several self-deprecating jabs, Kaye invited us to become ‘plugged’, as per the title of the show, into his world view – and what a wonderful (madcap) world it is.


Kaye is a whirlwind of magnetic charisma, unsubtle self-loathing and show-biz pizzazz with a devilish undertone, all bundled together with a gigantic stage presence and an equally gargantuan voice. Guiding us through an abbreviated version of his origins with songs ranging from Kate Bush and Celine Dion to Charles Aznavour, his stories of a German ballerina mother and her frank advice growing up drew boisterous laughter. His tale of burgeoning sexual awakening at a Balwyn high school is so beautifully written and masterfully delivered that the audience was completely spell bound.

This is cabaret in what is arguably its purest form – controlled anarchy. Kaye expertly handles the crowd and everything that happens within the performance space so well, folding audience members’ dropped drinks and ringing phones into gut-splittingly funny running jokes, that it almost threatens to derail the main thrust of the show. In all honesty though, it is rare and quite electrifying to watch such a professional command a crowd so thoroughly!

My only criticism would be that the focus on the moment-to-moment interaction and play with the audience sometimes is detrimental to the structure of the show, with links between sections becoming blurred and a finale that arrives surprisingly abruptly after what feels like only a short time, but Kaye’s charisma seems more than adequate recompense for these small complaints.

This is an evening of cabaret at its most elemental and anarchic, commanded by a star blazing so bright you will kick and scream for more! Utterly unforgettable and not to be missed!

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 1 Carson Place, Melbourne.

Time: 10pm

Dates: 5th – 17th April

Price: Full $38 Concession $34 Members $31 Group 6+ $30 Tightarse Tuesday $28

Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com, (03) 9663 8107, at the door.

MICF 2016: Martin Dunlop in MURDER, HE SPOKE

This one-man murder mystery pleased its fans

By Margaret Wieringa

Welcome to the estate of Howling Grange, where there has been a murder – Lady Hamblin has met an untimely death, and some non-policeman investigator has decided to get to the bottom of it.

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Martin Dunlop wrote and performed this exhaustive forty-five minute one-man show and he is certainly a man of the pen. His dialogue is often clever and witty, but unfortunately some of his lines were lost in the performance space. This is my first time in the Pleasance House, a beautiful building, and this indeed is a beautiful room with gorgeous floorboards – that unfortunately makes for terrible acoustics.

Murder mystery as a show concept is professedly not original, and Martin plays on this with a script heavily referencing pop-culture detectives from his despised Sherlock Holmes to the relatively obscure Pie in the Sky. However those tales of mystery generally made sense, whereas I confess I became totally lost in this one.

Somehow, if this is possible, I fear the script seemed to be both underwritten and overwritten. In paying homage to this iconic genre, there needed to be a clearer direction through the performance so that – even keeping the absurd nature of the piece – there is some plot satisfaction for the audience. But I also felt the dialogue needed to be trimmed right back – there was a lot of repetition that could have been worked around to have things revealed more cleverly. Unfortunately the transitions between characters and the transitions between scenes also felt really clunky and took away from the flow of the performance. Perhaps having a professional director step in during the process to help draw the performance pieces together, or even working with a second performer would have allowed the cleverness and potential of the script to really shine.

Having said all of that, the night I attended the room was full and the audience thoroughly enjoyed the performance, laughing long and loud. So even if Murder, He Spoke didn’t quite work for me, this show might prove to delight the armchair detective in you this 2016 Melbourne Comedy Festival.

Where: Pleasance House, Level 4, 178 Collin St

When: 5-17 April, 9:15. No shows Monday nights

Tickets: http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/murder-he-spoke-martin-dunlop