By Colin Flaherty
Behind a nondescript door in George Lane lies the George Lane Bar. It’s located at the rear of the same building that houses the Melbourne Wine Rooms and the George Public Bar so it feels like a hidden-away rogue brother of the aforementioned drinking establishments. For the past fifteen months Commedia Dell Parte has been holding court here every Thursday night.
With its red lighting and asian themed décor, the room resembles an opium den or classy brothel (not that I would know what such places actually look like! It’s just an assumption.). This atmosphere is apt seeing as the bar lies a stones throw from the notorious Grey St in St Kilda.
Luxurious seating in the form of velvet couches and armchairs are laid out in rows before the stage to seat about 30. Additional seating is available on stools at the bar located near the back of the room as well as plenty of standing room in this spacious venue.
Even though not a lot is on display, this bar stocks a wide range of bottled beers and spirits. They are especially well known for their cocktails.
The night of comedy consists of a line up with about eight acts; a manageable number but it threatens to conclude past eleven when the performers disregard their allocated time. The talent begins with some new faces leading up to familiar names in the later and headlining spots.
Commedia Dell Parte works on the “pay as you feel” honesty system, trusting that punters will pay a reasonable amount for the night’s entertainment. Room organiser Marcus Newman farewells the patrons with his cash box, welcoming Gold coin donations as well as much appreciated notes.
The show starts at 8:30 so get on down there, grab a drink and support the local comedy scene.
By Colin Flaherty
An institution of the Melbourne comedy scene, Local Laughs has been running since June 2003. It has built up the reputation of being a quality night that attracts a quite comedy savvy audience and has many performers queuing to get a spot.
The format of Local Laughs is the standard two brackets containing three or four performers in each. The acts are lovingly curated by Melbourne comedy queen Janet A McLeod and comprises an interesting mix of established acts, up and comers, and special guests from interstate and overseas. Local Laughs doesn’t feature open mic spots, instead giving stage time to new faces who have proven themselves elsewhere, such as finalists in Raw Comedy and other events where they may have caught Janet’s eye.
Quite a few comics come down to watch when they’re not performing, so there’s always plenty of interesting conversations to be had during interval and after the show. The rest of the audience is made up of hard core comedy fans, the families & friends of the comedians and St Kilda Backpackers. Often big names will drop in to try out some new material, especially in the lead up to festivals. The Local provides a comfortable and forgiving atmosphere in which to perform so comics are often happy to try out material and concepts they wouldn’t normally use in other rooms, which has led to some very special performances.
Being a Taphouse, The Local boasts an impressive range of beer from many smaller breweries. There are fifteen on tap (each with its own unique glass) and many more bottled varieties in the fridges. They also have plenty of other beverages available if beer is not your tipple of choice. The friendly bar staff are highly knowledgeable in the beers that they stock and this attention to detail enhances the drinking experience. There is a restaurant upstairs where all of their dishes contain beer, and a rooftop bar. A smaller menu of simpler fare is available downstairs during the comedy.
The comedy venue on the ground floor looks like a old school men’s club, with wood panelling, shelves of old books, lamp shades and seating mostly made up of comfy couches, arm chairs and a few tables and chairs. The doors open at 7.30 and the show starts crack on 8.30 and it pays to get there early if you want a seat.