After being discovered by Adam Hills on In Gordon Street Tonight, Stew Walker took the plunge into Fringe with an hour of Beatle based musical humour. The parodies were in a similar vein to those by Greg Champion, songs mostly about local identities, current events and whatever else took his fancy. They were also delivered in a similar manner, he didn’t have the angelic voice of a young John, Paul or George but he could certainly hold a tune, with acoustic guitar accompaniment, although he had some pre-recorded backing vocals to flesh things out. The Beatles songs he used were cleverly matched thematically to the subject he was lampooning which was a nice touch.
The initial songs in Walker’s set used blunt strokes in attacking his targets (including Franco Cozzo, Geoffrey Edelsten and Melbourne Weather) which often resulted in a song containing variations of the same joke. Each song was limited to two verses and two choruses which occasionally still felt a little drawn out but gave us a chance to sing along if the mood took us. As the set progressed I noticed some songs that proved that he could write better parodies if the subject allowed. Songs such as ‘Michelle’ (Bridges) and his Harold Holt medley revealed plenty of humorous ideas. An original tune ‘Dad Jokes’, dedicated to his late father, went down a storm demonstrating his talent outside of the Beatles framework.
Walker’s between song banter was a bit stiff and his timing in delivering funny lines was a little off but this was just down to inexperience. There were a few amusing self-deprecating comments about his real life, some groaning puns and a spot of Beatles trivia which kept the crowd giggling and enthralled. He tended to give away the jokes when introducing each song which robbed most of the lyrics of any surprises. This was especially problematic when the parody relied on a single joke. Explaining exactly what he was going to sing about may be fine for straight songs but good comedy songs require minimal preamble.
In spite of some rookie errors this was a fun Fringe debut. You really can’t go wrong with the music of Lennon and McCartney, and having fun with the lyrics is a winning formula for good times.
A Hard Day’s Night of Beatles Parodies is on at The Last Jar at 8:30pm until October 5