There are many shows in this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival that involve stories and jokes about love: dating, relationships, breakups, flirting, the list goes on. Sydney-based comedian Michael Hing has taken his inclusion of love-related experiences somewhat further in his 2014 show Bildungsroman At 28; he has based its entire premise on love, in particular with one girl from his past.
Hing begins his show by discussing the true definition of love. Is love about helping someone you care about with menial tasks, or is it more about taking incredible risks for that one person you adore most? When he divulges his personal definition of love – that it is an emotion that always ends in heartbreak – we begin to get a clear idea of what the theme of this story is going to be. The word ‘bildungsroman’ is a German word for ‘coming of age’, and Bildungsroman At 28 refers to Hing’s better-late-than-never tale of growing up, falling in love and learning some valuable life lessons.
This likeable, jittery 28-year-old is a fast-talking and feisty storyteller with some sharp one-liners and poignant anecdotes, some of which hit you right in the feelings. He comes across as incredibly sweet and genuine, which helps to capture the interest and empathy of his audience as he builds beautiful moments alongside some conventional light-hearted humour. Every line in this show is well-thought out and contributes to a simple and charming story arc; such as which stands apart from any other show in the festival.
Hing’s 5,000-word description about what he needs in a girlfriend (including 50 movies she is required to have watched, musical interests and national pianist accreditation) is highly amusing and his detailed descriptions of his attempts to seduce his perfect girl induce a mixture of laughter and cringing from the crowd. A terrifying goblin impersonation and his efforts at pretending he is a serial killer are also worth a mention, as well as an entertaining discussion of dating deal-breakers.
Bildungsroman At 28 is not only a comedy show about love; it is also an emotional narrative about love. For a 28-year-old who admits he knows absolutely nothing about this broadly defined emotion, Michael Hing has produced a bittersweet love story that will undoubtedly pull on the heartstrings of every punter that takes a chance on his show, as well as induce many chuckles throughout.
Bildungsroman At 28 is on at the Forum Theatre – Pizza Room until April 20