By Lisa Clark
Yada Yada Yada is a hilarious nostalgic walk down memory lane of 90s sitcoms. Fran Fine and her grandma Yetta from The Nanny are hosting a TV variety show and for anyone who loved watching comedies in the 90s this show ‘s da bomb!
Green Room Award winning Jude Perl is a tremendous cabaret talent who mentioned in her show Complete Breakfast what a massive fan of Yetta from the 90s sitcom The Nanny she is. In Yada Yada Yada she gets to play tribute by dressing up and singing as her. Jude has written all the clever, hilarious songs that they sing. Playing Fran Fine is Lauren Edwards who comes from a background of musical theatre and is a super talented singer and charismatic performer. They make for a delightfully endearing duo who banter and play off each other well, as well as blending their singing voices beautifully.
Yada Yada Yada is a show within a show. Jude and Lauren have cleverly organised the production like a TV recording where they drop character during the ad breaks but instead of becoming Fran Drescher or Anne Guilbert they become Jude and Lauren, directly addressing the audience and each other in their own voices. The show within the show is broken up into nostalgic songs, chat and games with some audience participation. All of it works beautifully and the audience are keen to join in on the fun. It’s not often I advocate for more audience participation, but letting the audience shout out the ends of catchphrases and encouraging more singalongs would probably be enthusiastically appreciated.
This was a one off performance at Melbourne Fringe, sadly, but clearly has legs and I’m sure would gain many fans if repeated in the future.
Yada Yada Yada: A 90s Sitcom Special was on at Lithuanian Club – Main Theatre
By Lisa Clark
Wanda and Mel is a backstage musical of sorts, a Mother/Daughter cabaret act doing a tour of regional towns of Victoria with some drama and a lot of laughs. A generation gap story about a new generation.
Amanda Buckley has been performing around Melbourne’s comedy and improv scene for a long while and is well cast as the stage mother, Wanda. She not the usual stage mother monster as portrayed in Gypsy but more sympathetic as a well-meaning woman who has had her own burgeoning career thwarted by circumstances and now in middle age is giving it another go with her talented daughter along as a side kick. Wanda is so full of energy and positivity that it makes the audience laugh and is fairly infectious. But we can also see that it could be exhausting and embarrassing for a teen.
The incredibly talented but properly socially awkward Mel is played beautifully by Kaliya Arumugam. Her job is to embody the laconic, millennial, phone obsessed teen offstage while singing and dancing her butt off onstage. Mel probably looked up to and adored her mum as a kid, wanting to be like her but now in her teens is sick of wandering with her mum and trying to discover herself and what she wants to do with her own future.
The songs are all famous tunes with new, comedic lyrics written all about current hot topics like climate change, marriage equality and Misogyny. It’s a pity that the music isn’t all fresh and original, but this is just the sort of thing that might be performed in regional schools by a cabaret/musical comedy act. They are all very funny (and not in an ironic way) and the choreography is particularly impressive and well executed. Some of the songs less so, particularly when they require the lower register which neither performer was able to master, maybe a musical retooling of these bits or even taking out one of the songs may have helped (one particular deep one didn’t seem important to the show). There were some glitches on opening night but these were mostly dealt with beautifully with much humour and Amanda’s impro experience coming to the fore turned them into show highlights.
Wanda and Mel is well acted and well danced with a lot of enthusiasm and packs in some timely political messages in an easily digestible way. This is a fairly sweet and funny bit of musical theatre you can bring the whole family to. I could see this actually going over well in regional towns. It’s a bit daggy and old fashioned, but like Wanda herself it is also well meaning, positive and joyous.
Wanda and Mel is on at The Butterfly Club until October 1
By Colin Flaherty
Even though everything was clearly laid out in the blurb, I was not prepared for (A Smidge of) Pidge. Walking out of the venue, I was still trying to process what I had just seen and determine whether it was comedy or performance art. This self-described black comedy certainly provoked discomfort and thought but unfortunately failed to make light of the topic despite all the absurdity it presented.
The subject of existential dread made for some heavy going, even when the performer was standing in front of us dressed as a pigeon. Vignettes apparently depicting the five stages of an existential crisis seemed to be strange for strangeness’ sake. Confusion may be part of a crisis but it didn’t always add to our enjoyment. Sequences describing art theory may have tickled the fancy of the odd art critic but a general audience may have found it impenetrable.
Sherilee Kahui tried to sell the material to us but still a chasm remained between artist and audience. Monologues about how shitty humans can be were delivered in an ironically cheery manner but this was not enough to keep the audience from only seeing a cry for help. She managed to get some brief laughs while addressing us like a Playschool presenter but generally the crowd were more shocked than amused. Likewise skulling several glasses of wine may have raised a cheer from a rowdy mob but in a theatre setting it looked depressing and sad. Even nervous titters were a rare occurrence.
This performance wasn’t completely devoid of laughs. She had some wonderful comedic premises such as purchasing a Five Year Plan to get others off your back and the venue staff struggling to keep the Pigeon focussed on the show. These managed to get good laughs even though they tended to fizzle out.
The clowning sequences involving the Pigeon character were delightful in the way Kahui interacted with the space and the audience. Her wordless performance was enthralling, a little confusing at times and regularly amusing. This unpredictable creature was a wacky loose cannon and clearly triumphed over her human counterpart. The chance for each punter to coo or squawk like a pigeon was empowering and heaps of fun
(A Smidge of) Pidge was such an ambitious show and that is clearly what the Fringe is all about. It’s certainly an event worth experiencing but if you are just looking for laughs, this won’t give your funny bone the tickle it needs.
(A Smidge of) Pidge is on at Arts House – Parlour Room until September 30
By Conor Merrigan-Turner
War of the words was a blend of traditional comedy with interactive and educational commentary on the downfall of the English language, exploring how we have neglected to acknowledge the cold hard truth that we are a nation based on the theft of the world’s greatest languages. Matt Harvey, the writer and performer revealed and enlightened us into the works of words and the irony in a lot of what we say. Derailing common and newly formed phrases, by some of the globes most active political social media users (i.e Trump…).
This was not a show that steered clear of political goings, the commentary was so easily strung together with good humour, whether the audience understood the political context or not it was still amusing.
The intimate venue allowed Matt Harvey to feed off the audiences’ understanding of the topics to redirect and paraphrase for those in the crowd not bound to media watch. This heightened sense of awareness really gave the show the flexibility to create its own individual tone.
Matt was a versatile performer who adapted all ‘bits’ to how the crowd felt on topics. Although the jokes didn’t always hit the right spots and the occasional tender subjects, which did cause a clench in the lower region, that could be felt in the air and Matt was sure to make a comment on that. It prevailed as an interactive show which put us in a lovely spot for the rest of the night.
War of the words is on at Courthouse Hotel – The Dock until October 1
By Colin Flaherty
By his own account, Sean Bedlam has made a ballsy move in calling his Fringe show Death To America and from the outset he wonders what kind of audience it will attract. Will they be left wing extremists hoping for an impassioned rant against Trump? If his extremely playful poster featuring lollies, emojis and a cheeky smile is anything to go by, he is more likely to attract those wanting a good laugh above all else.
Bedlam presents the world seen from his self-professed semi-juvenile view. Some stories about his experiences visiting the USA fit nicely with the title while other jokes give us an inkling about his views on politics (including a scatological joke about Trump). Other times he presents wonderfully silly observations on various things that tickle his fancy.
Bedlam’s delivery style is fairly ramshackle. There are huge pauses where you can see the gears turning in his head as he structures the next set of ideas and he often expresses his internal monologue about how things are going. For all I know the pauses may be for dramatic purposes and the babbling could be clever stream of consciousness, but could equally be dismissed as start of season nerves. He certainly has a style that some will find endearing but will be frustrating to others.
Delivery aside, this is still a work in progress at the moment as he had way more material than his slot allowed. Working frequent comments about previous audience reactions into some of the jokes got him bogged down in detail which compounded his time management issues. His notes seemed to be a massive tome so this mountain of new gear still requires some work to get it across efficiently.
Efficiency doesn’t seem to be a word you apply to Bedlam with the journey often being more important than the destination. He stated that he could talk to us for another hour and I’m sure everyone in the room would have loved it. His boisterous and wacky persona has the crowd glued to his every word, eager to see where he will lead us. More often than not, to hilarity.
Death to America is on at Courthouse Hotel – The Dock until October 1
By Lisa Clark
Solo Festival shows can get a bit lonely for standup comedians, everyone is busy and wrapped up in their own worlds. Geraldine Hickey has decided to have more fun this Fringe by hosting her very own Tonight Show and surrounding herself with dear and talented friends.
Each night of It’s My Show has a different theme and different guests. We were lucky to have very special guests The Two Kate’s from Get Krak!n, Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney, and Geraldine’s bestie AACTA Award winning Celia Pacquola. Everyone’s offered a wine and the conversation was about tonight’s topic, school, whether they loved or hated it. Celia was given a fun task which involved hooking up an audience member with a potential date on Tinder. Up and coming comedian Daisy Berry did some amusing standup and Laura Dunemann turned up in the guise of a long lost relative of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. Some of the best character work I’ve seen her do and the audience loved it.
Every talk show host needs a super supportive side kick and this was provided in It’s My Show by fab comedian and DJ Kelly Fastuka. She’s quick with pertinent music, plenty of banter and bringing up an unexpected slide at Geraldine’s request. Tonight’s theme was school and there were some very cute school pics, so make sure you sit where you can see the screen on the side wall. Because of the different guests and themes this is a show you can revisit. I also think it might make a fun podcast or vidcast to get up on line.
I’ve seen and loved most of Geraldine’s Festival shows, she tries to put on something a bit different each year and it’s pretty much always wonderful because there is a sense that she’s genuinely herself on stage, and Geraldine’s self is a kack. The show also reflects Geraldine’s personality by being fairly relaxed and daggy. She’s certainly having such a great time with It’s my Show and you will want to join her party.
It’s My Show is on at The Imperial Hotel until September 29