Laura Davis – Pillow of Strength

By Hannah Frazer

A refreshingly honest storytelling of love, loving and kick in the guts heartbreak. Laura Davis is unashamedly bold and unique in her show Pillow of Strength.

From the moment you enter the room you begin to gain a greater understanding of the personality that is Davis. Music playing, she dances around her stage without a care in the world as the audience take their seats. Her inhibitions are non-existent while she loses herself in the music.

Davis bravely tells her brutally personal tale of woe which are so present it is almost like she is reliving those moments in front of you. From the heart skipping nervous excitement of its beginning, to the soul destroying pain of its demise, Davis gives an energetic illustration of what she was thinking and feeling as her relationship was coming to what would seem to be its enviable end.

So deeply in love from the moment of their first meeting, Davis depicts the agony of trying to deny her initial feelings and how that was a painstakingly useless task. The trouble being that these strong emotions would only make the loss that much more painful to bare. This relationship would also set a precedent for any future relationships here on after.

So easily Davis can turn this raw, heartbreaking and private story into an hour of entrancing light entertainment. A rare talent, Davis takes this sensitive topic and makes it ok to laugh at it. With some moments being so uncomfortably familiar to most, you will be left cringing on the edge of your seat, while others leaving you doubled over gasping for air as you try not to laugh and snort your appreciation for her carefully crafted material too obnoxiously.

A quirky, edgy and defiantly original performer, Davis doesn’t hold back. She bares all, and is completely and rightfully unapologetic. Captivating and entertaining never looked so easy or so simple. Davis depicts the confidence that most woman and men strive to achieve.

Laura Davis is on at The Lithuanian Club until Oct 4


Clem Bastow – Escape From L.A.

By Elyce Phillips

When she was 13 years old, Clem Bastow decided she was going to move to Hollywood and become a screenwriter. Over a decade later, she put her plan into motion and set off for East LA with a work visa and a dream. Not everything went to plan. An existential crisis or two was had. Now back in Melbourne, Bastow may not have an Oscar, but she does have an hour of terrific comedy.

Escape From LA is bittersweet. The realities of making it in the entertainment business may be harsh, but Bastow has transformed them into something hilarious, from tales of working the junket circuit, to assisting friendly gangstas, to the constant anxiety-inducing threat of earthquakes. DJ Slig (complete with Oddworld-style gas mask) runs interference on the soundboard throughout. The zany sound effects clash wonderfully with the more sombre material in the show, even if they’re overzealous at times. Paired with the occasional light show, it’s trashy, over-the-top, and befitting of a show about Hollywood. Bastow and Slig have a belligerent chemistry that adds a layer of anarchy to the mood created.

In the later half of the show, Bastow’s tale of her search for an identity was very relatable. As someone who currently has some abandoned derby skates, a Final Fantasy costume and a Russian Punch Embroidery kit languishing in her cupboard, it almost got a bit too real. While her material deals with very personal, difficult moments in her recent past, her delivery is spot-on and you never feel uncomfortable about laughing.

Escape From LA is an honest and cleverly written piece from a talented performer, encapsulating the chaotic highs and lows of the Hollywood experience. Bastow has created a fantastic show here, and it’s well worth checking out before the Fringe ends.

Clem Bastow – Escape From LA is on at Bar Open until October 4

The Sexy Detectives – Mono Logs

By Sofia Monkiewicz  

 The Sexy Detectives are a Brisbane comedy sketch group who certainly know how to deliver a successful skit. Their Melbourne Fringe Festival debut Mono Logs is made up of a variety of vignettes, short character interactions, speeches and one-liners, most of which are cleverly written and extremely funny. This type of comedic performance relies on decent material to begin with, and luckily these Sexy Detectives have an abundance of the stuff.

David Massingham and Michael Griffin are natural entertainers; they swap between characters and accents with ease, and their well-timed jokes hit the mark every time. Massingham comes across as the more experienced of the two. He is confident and charismatic, and his characters are all very strong. From the pastor not-so-subtly attempting to stop a couple from getting wed, to a father making plans for which of his children will inherit his fortune, and to a pun-loving school principal, Massingham has the more memorable characters and the funnier skits. Griffin does have some hilarious one-liners though, and his quieter onstage personality combined with Massingham’s expressive antics is a winning combination.

Despite the fact that on this particular night the audience was quite small, it did not prevent the Sexy Detectives from giving it their absolute all; their professionalism and energy is commendable. One particular sound effect-based act they performed was simply hysterical, and an intentionally long-winded sketch about the competencies of an IT help desk was not only highly amusing, but wonderfully witty as well.

In terms of the technical aspect of the show, several of the scene transitions were slightly clunky and there were a couple of messy lighting changes, but overall nothing overly drastic. Perhaps some music between several of the longer scene changes would help to make them a little smoother.

The Melbourne Fringe Festival is designed for shows like Mono Logs. It is an opportunity to showcase something different to the average comedy stand-up routine, and this sketch performance is exactly that: experimental and non-standard, utterly entertaining, and just really stupidly funny.

The Sexy Detectives – Mono Logs is on at Club Voltaire until October 5

2 Up – Matt Stewart and Hap Hayward

By Lisa Clark

Matt Stewart and Hap Hayward met while competing in the RAW Comedy Competition this year, became good friends and decided to join forces in this festival show that introduces us to their comic talents. The fact that Matt won RAW happily hasn’t affected their fledgling friendship and is not an issue in this show as they are equally entertaining in their own way.

Matt and Hap have worked hard to put an entertaining show together for their first time out that will also suit an audience with little experience of seeing comedy. The funny pre-recorded intro settles the audience and gets them in the mood for some fun, then the guest MC explains how the night will work and warms the audience up. We were lucky to have Daniel Connell as our guest MC.

Daniel was the perfect host whose laid back country style totally fitted in with the two stars of the show – all that was missing was the red beard. Daniel shared his adventures around Melbourne and created the right atmosphere for the show. Daniel also flipped the coin that decided whether Matt or Hap would perform first.

Justin ‘Hap’ Heywood is not someone you might pick as a comedian. A soft spoken high school teacher from Ballarat with a smiley face. Hap is a storyteller telling entertaining stories from his childhood about his relationships with family and friends, his own school year experiences and a bit about being a modern day teacher. Considering the bullying he endured growing up, one can’t help but wonder if becoming a school teacher reveals some masochistic tendencies. Choosing to go into standup comedy seems to confirm this. Luckily it’s a good choice for Hap who has a comfortable stage presence and keeps the audience laughing throughout with his well-crafted set.

Matt Stewart is an Ideas Man. Matt’s humour also comes across as fairly relaxed and non-confronting but has a more off the wall feel which is often enhanced by his notebook of lists. He asks the audience a lot of rhetorical questions and has a habit of deconstructing his jokes, he also surprises us with the fanciful direction his thoughts take us to find the jokes. This all works really well and he is easily able to keep this audience on side and intrigued. His ideas come from his regrets, Karma, a hilarious look at astrology and Aussie style Superheroes. Some of his jokes are creepers and some take you by surprise, overall he’s quite the crowd pleaser. It’s not hard to understand why Matt won Raw.

2 Up is a pretty polished show for a pair who have only recently joined the world of standup. Matt and Hap are quickly finding their unique comedy voice and having seen them do different material elsewhere, it’s encouraging to think that they will no doubt become popular fixtures in the standup scene.

2 Up is on at The Courthouse Hotel until Oct 5

Kate and Steve Are Friends.

By Hannah Frazer 

When you go see a comedy show, your hope is to leave with a smile on your face, to be able to re-enter the real world with a new found excitement and a nice cheap hit of endorphins. Kate and Steve are friends will most certainly do all these things to you. The easiest most direct way of describing this show would have to be a stage full of carefully structured randomness. Kate Wilkinson (the girl one) and Steve Varley (the boy one), previously of comedy troupe Aardvarks Anonymous, take you on a journey of the ups the downs, the trials and tribulations of any good friendship.

From the beginning there is a contagious excitement and energy that comes from these two well-seasoned jokesters. An unemployed Varley wanting to find a new lease on life and Wilkinson desperate for the cash so she can get to Disneyland and meet her idol, her hero, her obsession, Buzz Light-year. They work together, coming up with ways to make this happen – queue the fun.

Not only a well scripted show, Wilkinson and Varley also allow themselves room to play and to get creative with some musical improvisation. Simply given a couple of random words, they let their minds go wondering, and the final destination is hilarity.  Their plans, though not always fool proof, are still met with determination and a contagious enthusiasm.  But when their friendship is tested, will they be able to forgive, move on and get the band back together? Or is this the end of Kate and Steve as friends?

With a long time off stage friendship evident, these platonic life mates bounce of each other really well. Both energetic and full of life, they use this show as a chance to embrace their inner child and in turn you can’t help but want to jump up there with them, and become the third member of this amusing and vibrant duo.

With only a couple of days left of the Fringe, make sure you get down and enjoy the playtime that is Kate and Steve are Friends.

Kate and Steve are Friends is on at Word Warehouse, 14 Goldie Place Melbourne at 7.30 until Oct 5


Delusions of Slander by Cobi Smith

By Colin Flaherty

Cobi Smith (Science Communicator and part time comedian) seems to think that the Adelaide Advertiser has it in for her. Growing up in the City of Churches, she has appeared many times in the paper and noticed some misrepresentation as part of the various projects she has been involved with. In Delusions of Slander, Smith presented us with evidence of this and asked us to decide whether she has a right to feel paranoid.

Smith showed a photo from the article in question and invited the audience to guess what the story was. The full article was then revealed and we were given some background and her beef/s with the content. These shortcomings included potential wardrobe malfunction, tokenism, misquotes and exclusion of important details. As a former Science Journalist, Smith admitted she knew the extent of the circumstances that were beyond her control and this made it less of a conspiracy plot than the advertising would suggest.

Humour came from the content of the presented articles more than her scripted lines. Banter with the audience regularly led to some amusing exchanges and we often laughed at how far off our guesses were. When put in the correct context, the text of the articles and accompanying photos had some bizarre WTF moments which were highlighted by Smith. Her twisted version of the Bechdel/Wallace test and the comparison of a photo to sci-fi characters were highlights but beyond that it wasn’t exactly wall to wall laughs.

An exuberant performer, Smith tended to rush her delivery, was easily distracted and prone to many asides, especially during her frequent exchanges with the audience. This show involved a lot of audience interaction and this was where she seemed most at ease. During the show she collected data with plans to implement a ‘Family Feud’ style game show in her weekend performances which sounds like a great addition to the show (I wish I’d seen this version than be one of her guinea pigs).

This was a pleasant hour in the company of a personable performer but it was more like a discussion about the portrayal of women in the media than a tightly written comedy show. A thought provoking and entertaining experience nonetheless.

Delusions of Slander is on at the Tuxedo Cat at 6pm until October 5