Tanya Losanno : The Good, The Bad and the Elderly

By Colin Flaherty

It’s been quite a while since I’ve last seen Tanya Losanno on a Melbourne stage. Since then, family has been consuming her life and this wonderfully sweet set of stories documents the trials and tribulations of caring for elderly parents in her hometown of Canberra.

The spaghetti western theme loomed large in this show (you will be humming Morrocone’s theme for days afterwards), drawing connections between the characters in those films with her and her parents, and portraying the many misadventures as showdowns. She regularly poked fun at Mum and Dad’s peculiar habits and all the crazy situations they caused. A lot of Tanya’s jokes revolved around their Italian heritage but it was a gentle, loving ribbing of their eccentricities and the exasperating gap between the generations, rather than scoffing at the behaviours from the old country.

The show gradually built a vivid picture of her parents with amusing memories from Tanya’s childhood revealing more about how her view of them had changed over time. She loved a callback and frequently returned to several Italian motifs during the hour.

Tanya was the same convivial performer that I remember and she had the audience glued to every word. It was quite an animated performance when some of the tales were broken up with mimes to illustrate the scene she was describing. Some were merely a gun-slinger grimace while others were full on slapstick affairs and her facial expressions were a joy to behold.

The Good, The Bad and The Elderly was a charmingly amusing show with broad appeal and some damn fine comedic storytelling. It’s certainly one to take your mum to (if she can manage the stairs up to the venue).

The Good, The Bad and the Elderly is on at The Coopers Malthouse until April 21

Stuart Daulman : Masterclass

By Colin Flaherty

“Comedy genius” Stuart Daulman (Steve Bennett wrote it so it must be true!) presented a seminar detailing all that’s required to survive in the comedy game. If you’re expecting serious comedic writing tips you’re better off seeking the services of someone like Tim Ferguson. While he did cover stagecraft this was mostly about The Hustle, neediness and backstabbing that goes on.

This was an ambitious performance where, in true Daulman fashion, he fully committed to the concept. As lecturer he played it completely straight with plenty of business mantra chanting and constant requests for networking opportunites. The war stories got chuckles of recognition as did the familiar elements of festival shows.

Daulman’s delivery suited the piece and cleverly blurred the line of what was lighthearted joking and heart wrenching anger. A live phone call to his mum was a stilted awkward affair that was accurate rather than funny which may or may not have been the point. His descriptions of the humiliating process of ‘putting yourself out there’ and chasing a career in the arts was bleak comedy at it’s best.

Jake Ludowyke handled all AV duties using a delightfully old school overhead projector. The text shown on the slides was wonderfully excessive to give some context for those outside the industry (if you could read quickly enough that is) while having fun with Powerpoint sins. He showed many actual photos and posts from Stu’s social media as well as carefully selected quotes from show reviews (former Squirrel Elyce Phillips got a mention, umm… hooray?). Particularly adorable was the lo-fi animations using transparencies which when combined with bombastic music was hilarious. Ludowyke’s role was so much more, regularly acting as cheerleader for the audience to provoke reactions.

The finale was a demonstration of this master performer at work.  Stu ritually changed into the comedian’s uniform and ripped through a solid set that would go down well in any beer barn, but a lot of the big laughs for us are in recognising all the bad tropes covered previously. There was also the deeper understanding with the knowledge of all the shit he had gone through that provided extra layers.

This show was definitely geared towards an experienced festival audience, in particular those in the biz. This was so much more than a hilariously faux bad business seminar and laid out Stuart’s emotions bare. Stuart Daulman’s Masterclass was a powerful glimpse behind the curtain of the life of a standup comedian.

Masterclass is on at Melbourne Town Hall (Regent Room) until April 21

5 Good Reasons To See Martin Dunlop in Small Tales Of Little Mercy

1. It’s a Southern Gothic parody show and I explain what Southern Gothic literary fiction is, so you’ll be able to tell that to your friends and make it sound like you done got book learning.

2. It’s a one-man play where I do all the characters so you don’t have to keep track of which actor does what, because I’m doing all of them. Isn’t that simpler?

3. You kept watching True Blood for the dialogue and the setting, not just all the hot butts.

4. You were led to the show by crows.

5. I promise to show you what they found in the river.

Small Tales Of Little Mercy is on at The Butterfly Club from April 12 to April 21

The Establishment : Le Bureau de Strange

By Colin Flaherty

With the name The Establishment you could easily expect a show lampooning the Upper British classes. Although they had the air of a pair of aristocratic twits about them, these dapper gents (Neil Frost and Dan Lees) instead gave us a daft hour of unbridled joy. They went out of their way to set our expectations as low as possible but ultimately exceeded this level with everyone finding at least something stupid to laugh at.

Lees’ clowning training got a workout as his physicality provided plenty of colour and movement to cover for a lack of traditional narrative. Frost was no slouch as his merest gesture generating huge laughs. They used the entire room as their playground and frequently kept the punters on their toes with plenty of false starts, strange parlour games and lots of silly straw polls. Both were brilliant in indulging in some surreal verbal flights of fancy within their effortless banter that kept us laughing throughout.

Audience participation featured prominently in this show, both leading punters to pre-scripted punchlines as well as letting them flex their impro muscles a little. The opening night audience were bang up for getting involved but Frost and Lees are suitably non-threatening to ensure results from even the most timid crowd.

It was all about comedic play as they assigned roles to audience members and gave them various things to respond to (nothing too taxing except for one “game” punter). The duo had the brilliant knack of manipulating a crowd with the vaguest of suggestions, then sitting back and enjoying the resulting mayhem. Free form sing-a-longs were immense fun and ad hoc party games had us in hysterics at the wacky results.

This seemingly ramshackle and faux unstructured performance is not everyone’s cup of tea but if you allow yourself to get swept up in the anarchy you’re sure to have a whale of a time.

Le Bureau de Strange is on at The Cooper’s Malthouse until April 7

5 Good Reasons To See Hannah Camilleri in Big Snot

1. See a revolving door of wild yet nuanced characters performed by one person.

2. “Be prepared to embrace the utter ridiculousness that culminates when Hannah weaves her tapestry…” Onya Magazine 2018

3. It’s like screen to stage in Big Snot where Camilleri draws inspiration from VHS classics and 90s TV and performs on a stage. Screen to stage.

4. Camilleri was actually a humble Comedy Festival usher for years and now you can witness all that pent up frustration explode on the other side of the camera, or whatever, in her second Comedy Festival

5. It’s on at 9.45pm so Big Snot could be your final show of the night. We’ve planned your evening: see show at 7.15pm, see the other show at 8.30pm and then head to Big Snot at Globe Alley (formerly Belleville) for 9.45pm

Big Snot is on at Globe Alley from April 15 to April 21

5 Good Reasons To See Late Night Party Boyz – Rebel Without Applause

1) If you consider yourself a rebel and are too without applause.

2) To witness the future cult classic that is “Mr. Ice Cream”.

3) Most of the time when people ask Damien and Ross of the Late Night Party Boyz how they come up with their ideas, the assumption is that it involved drugs. For two sketches in this show, it’s actually true – try and guess which ones.

4) One of the last sketches broke a woman into laughter so much during the Adelaide run, it distracted one of the performers to the point they couldn’t put their costume for the finale on properly. The performer was Ross.

5) To witness some of the most silly, ridiculous live and video sketches this Comedy Festival and how two people can blow a wig and shoe budget.

Rebel Without Applause is on at The Tickle Pit at The Croft from April 9 to 20