Lana Schwartcz – Small Talk

By Noel Kelso Lana Schwarcz

The concept of the ‘Inner Child’ is one familiar to many from the pages of pop psychology and often we are encouraged to ‘get in touch’ and ‘release’ this modern-day pixie. But what if after one released one’s Inner Child one found that it could not be returned? This is the central premise of Lana Schwarcz’s show Small Talk at the Courthouse Theatre in Kew.

Schwarcz plays each of the four central characters and voices each of the inner children with expert skill, clearly delineating each character through vocal performance, changes in posture and subtle tics and quirks – such as the habit of one character to push their spectacles up their nose – making it apparent which is speaking despite there only being one person on stage.

Protagonist, Tilly, is new-age dabbler who has created a machine which will allow people to not only see their Inner Child, but to also release it to allow for better communication and understanding and possible resolution of any issues before returning them whence they came.

Her three clients – a redhead with emotional baggage; a divorcee manchild and a pregnant professional with no interest in children – come to her therapy centre to experience this new technology and get better acquainted with their Inner Child. Needless to say – not all goes to plan.

Somebody sabotages the machine and it becomes a race against time – and sanity – to return the Inner Children to their rightful places.
Along the way there are plenty of laughs and some beautifully rendered beats of emotion as each character explores what has become of the person they once were. Some are endearingly shy and some psychotically homicidal, and how the Adults deal with these now-released inner demons holds the attention of the audience and does not let go for the full hour.

Schwarcz is a puppeteer and stand-up comic by trade and she brings these skills to bear throughout this show. The realisation of the Inner Children through puppets – one of which is initially invisible – is nothing less than impressive with Schwarcz using every trick at her disposal to make each as much a living, breathing individual as each of the adults she portrays. Carefully constructed props and subtle use of lighting effects reinforce the reality of the world being portrayed on stage. Schwarcz’s craftsmanship is impressive and her ease of use of each of her props makes for a smooth performance experience.

Overall this is a delightfully quirky show with plenty of laughs and touching moments which will hopefully warrant a return run.

Small Talk by Lana Schwarcz is on at The Kew Courthouse theatre, Kew at 8:00pm until May 9th.

Seemingly Evil – Mix Tape

by Elyce Phillips MIix Tape

Melbourne locals Seemingly Evil (Alice Tovey, Clare Rankine, Melissa Trancia, Sam Garlepp, Lachie McKenzie, Will Reinehr and John Liacopoulos) returned to MICF this year with a fresh bunch of sketches. As the title would suggest, Mix Tape is a grab bag of skits with no unifying theme. Some are snippets of satire with a local bent, poking fun at tram inspectors and the like. Others wander into the realm of the absurd, such as a man going through a painful break-up with his microwave.

A good mix tape is well-constructed, paying careful attention to the transition from song to song. Seemingly Evil’s Mix Tape was more akin to an iPod on shuffle, fading to black and re-setting after each sketch. I found these cuts detracted from the momentum of the show somewhat, and served to emphasise the disconnected nature of the content. This would have been fine if the quality of the sketches was consistent, but pausing for applause after each sketch really highlighted when one wasn’t received as well as the others.

For an up-and-coming sketch group, Mix Tape is a solid piece of work. The show was uneven, but entertaining. There were plenty of good nuggets of comedy, but pacing was an issue. A few of the sketches fell flat, taking a long time in the set-up without enough of a pay-off. However, there were also some hits. One sketch featuring some alfoil-hatted visitors from the unforeseeable future of slightly later in 2015 was particularly hilarious.

The troupe work really well together and they look like they’re having a heck of a lot of fun on stage. There were plenty of fans in the audience and the room was filled with laughter the whole way through. Mix Tape may be a little shaky, but Seemingly Evil is a group to watch – they’ve got the talent and the ideas to produce something really great, and they’re almost there.


Tim Hewitt – Suckerfish

By Luke Simmons Suckerfish

Tim Hewitt’s Suckerfish was a show run at the 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival that contained Hewitt and a revolving door of invited comedy acts. This reviewer went on the last night of the festival and it was clear that there was a party atmosphere in the air.

Playing his role as the MC, Hewitt weaved in and out of his material in dream like fashion and brought most attention from the crowd when he gave a Chris Farley-like impression which drew gasps when it became apparent that his head was about to explode.

Michael Shafar then got on the mic and delivered a structured set of comedy material gaining most laughs from his assortment of travel stories. His story about being robbed in Jamaica was one of the night’s highlights. Shafer is an interesting work in progress who demonstrated great skills of storytelling. All that seemed missing with Shafer was a bit of bravado when he steps up to (boss) the mic.

Rob Caruana got onto the stage and wasted no time getting involved with some banter and crowd play. However, after bringing technical props into play, he experienced technical difficulties which prevented him for moving into his material.

Ryan Coffey then closed out the night and delivered a solid power set of gags which served as a taster for his Heartbreaker show. He’s got a real stage presence and gave the air of a seasoned pro as he drew laughs from his beard-related comedy. Which begs the question… Were beard gags so popular when they were last in fashion in the 70’s?  He closed out with a one man musical piece using unique a unique style of beat boxing which had the crowd in stiches.

The overall show wasn’t the most polished this reviewer had seen throughout the festival, but it’s clear that Tim will be better for the experience of having his MICF  debut under his belt.

Tripod and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra – This Gaming Life

By Elyce Phillips Tripod

Tripod (Scott Edgar, Steven Gates and Simon Hall) have teamed up with legendary composer Austin Wintory and the MSO to produce a suite of songs about video games that sound as beautiful as they are hilarious. This Gaming Life spans the history of gaming, from the pixelated magic of early arcades to the expansive 3D universe of Skyrim, and explores the depth of Tripod’s relationship with the medium.

The songs in this oratorio are stunning. Yes, there are plenty of gaming references for the nerds in the audience – I did a little inward squeal when they mentioned the Nesingwary quest line from WoW – but more than anything, this is an ode to the social aspects of gaming. How they can cement friendships, help us traverse the distance between ourselves and a loved one, and create lasting memories in impossible landscapes.

This Gaming Life is also incredibly funny. Tripod’s lyrics deftly skewer the industry, gamers and their concerned loved ones. A song targeting the absurd designs of many female characters was my personal favourite. As a special added treat, we also got to experience a beautiful performance of Wintory’s Journey score, complete with some choreography and highly suspect costumes from Tripod.

Partnering with the MSO for this show was absolutely inspired. The impact of the orchestra emphasised the scope of Tripod’s history with gaming. Scod, Yon and Gatesy have the kind of on-stage chemistry that can only come from years and years of working together, and it’s an absolute joy to see them in Hamer Hall in a performance of this magnitude.

As it was only a short run, Tripod’s This Gaming Life has already finished up, but you can check out one of the songs from the show at this beautifully ‘90s website:

Kelly Fastuca – I Need An Adult

By Elyce Phillips Kelly Fastuka

Kelly Fastuca has spent the last five years living in New York. After some very authentic public transport experiences, she’s returned with some killer material and an eerily perfected mid-western mom accent. Now she’s back in Werribee, and while all her friends are starting to grow up and have babies, Fastuca is still struggling to take care of herself.

Fastuca’s stand-up is as sharp as her KFC eating habits are sloppy. In I Need An Adult, she covers a lot of familiar themes – dating, body image, friends having families – but her endearing personality and infectious energy keeps the jokes original and surprising. Fastuca takes a refreshingly blunt look at life in your early 30s when you’re not very good at being a grown-up. Her material is clever and delivered with a gloriously bogan sensibility. Despite her time in the US, she still sounds very much like an Aussie.

Fastuca’s performance style is relaxed and she strikes up a fantastic rapport with the audience. She’s immensely relatable, talking about the kinds of grubby behaviours that we are probably all guilty of, but perhaps don’t like to admit. Her bit about eating habits while in a long-distance relationship struck scarily close to home for me, and judging from the knowing guffaws from others around me, everyone could find something in common with the material. Fastuca had the audience laughing non-stop with her quick wit.

I Need An Adult is a riotous work of stand-up. Fastuca’s life may be messy, but this show is just about perfect. If you don’t get a chance to catch her before the festival ends, be sure to keep an eye out for her in the future. Fastuca is a genuine comedic talent.

Kelly Fastuca – I Need An Adult is on in the Downstairs Lounge at the Grand Mercure Hotel until April 19.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards 2015

Well what an amazing Festival it’s been this year. So many shows were on offer (over 500) that it took longer for the Award Committee to get their Nominations ready for announcement. So many we could only touch the surface in our reviews. We try to cover a broad range with a focus on smaller local acts. We’ve all seen a lot of shows and every one of us has put in a lot of voluntary work. We do it for love. Because we are fans of comedy and we want to share our love.

Thanks to the Squirrel Team, to the Melbourne International Festival team for giving Melbourne one of the best Festivals in the world and to the performers who give their hearts and souls to entertain people and bring us joy in many varied and amazing ways.

Awards are difficult. If the Melbourne International Comedy Festival has taught us anything it’s that there are Many different ways to make us laugh; from improvised silent clowning to Musical Comedy supported by a symphony orchestra at Hamer Hall to a solo wordsmith in a spotlight with nothing but their words. How can you say one performer is better than another? Yet it feels good to celebrate excellence and give performers something to aim for.

Honestly any comedian who performed all of their shows and feels good about them and the majority of their audiences is a success. Bravo!

Just a note to let you know that The People’s Choice Award this year was not a vote, as such. It went to the comedian who sold the most tickets.

Our Warmest Congratulations to:

Barry Award (Best Comedy Performer) Winner: Sam Simmons – Spaghetti For BreakfastLaura Davis Ghost

Golden Gibbo Award (Independant & Creative show) Winner: Laura Davis – Ghost machine

Piece of Wood (Peer Voted – Comedian’s Choice): Anne Edmonds You Know What I’m Like!

Director’s Choice Award winner: Matt Okine  – The Other Guy

Peoples choice: Wil Anderson – Free Wil

Funny Tonne (Audience Member seeing the most [over 100] shows): Sarah Trevarthen

And previously announced:

Class Clowns (Teen competition) Winner:  Will Mckenna (14) from Eltham College (VIC)

RAW Comedy (Newcomer competition) Winner: Angus Gordon (QLD), Runner Up: Rohan Ganju (Vic) Special Mentions: Sam Taunton (Vic) & Jess Perkins (Vic)

Deadly Funny National Final Winner: Nina Kirby  (VIC)

The Deadly Mentorship Award Winner: Karen Edwards (QLD)