Dingo & Wolf – Winning at Life

By Lisa Clark. 

Dingo & Wolf are a super talented comic duo of young ladies who’ve been working on their double act in gigs for around a year now. They have a classic comedic relationship with strong characters; Wolf (Eleanor Webster) being the uptight straight woman and Dingo (Laura Dunemann) her daffy second banana. I have eagerly awaited their Debut festival show, but worry that I may have expected too much from first timers

This is the third time at the festival this year that an act has started with the audience kept in the dark staring at an empty stage for way too long. With only audio and a hint of torchlight while they bickered backstage, it became a tad tedious and some editing would not go astray. When they do appear it’s in business attire, so different to their normally wacky outfits. It was the sort of beginning that may have worked better for future shows after the audience have come to know them.

The pretext for their show, a self help seminar, is not exactly a fresh idea, but it is a fun conceit with the right performers and they made it work as a flimsy framework to show off their personalities and hang their schtick around. It takes a while for their friendship to show, with a shared giggle at a naughty joke, giving the audience a chance to warm to them. There was also a bit of gentle audience participation, though it probably needed a bit of development, because there seemed little point to it.

The humour is mostly about their incompetence, bickering and silly faffing about. They did manage a bit of savvy, ironic humour based on female body image that let the audience know there were smarts behind all the lunacy. This section, which informs us of the popularity of thin girls, includes ‘Thinspiration’ handouts, which we sadly couldn’t read in the dark, but are for taking home. There are also some rather pornographic pictures that are left up on flip board for an uncomfortable amount of time.

Of course the seminar is eventually left behind with their business suits, as the show descends into an enjoyable chaos and the focus of the show shifts to their relationship. Their charm and musical grand finale thoroughly win the audience over. Although not high on the laugh-o-metre there were certainly a lot of grinning, happy faces in the audience throughout the performance. You can’t help but fall in love with Dingo and Wolf and I’m sure this is the beginning of a beautiful and successful relationship.

Dingo & Wolf – Winning at Life is on at 3 Degrees QV Centre

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/winning-at-life-dingo-wolf/

Almost Almost Almost Famous

By Colin Flaherty.

A group show featuring some newish faces on the scene is the perfect event to take a chance on, in that you are sure to make an interesting discovery. Almost Almost Almost Famous is one such production that provides a solid hour of laughs from a quartet of stand up comedians who, given the cheeky title, have lofty ambitions.

Courtney Parker opened up the show with a self confessed set of on-stage therapy. A large portion of her set revolved around her Bogan father which included an indecipherable recording of him that went on a touch too long. An extended story about some pathology procedures had the audience in fits as our hero went from one embarrassment to the next. Her use of small props to make plenty of witty comments was well done and her closing segment complete with adorable visual aides and cutesy singing made the crowd fall in love with this slightly daggy girl.

Up next was Murphy McLachlan who is very much an old school joke teller; short shaggy dog tales with zinger punchlines. This joke telling with tenuous linking is somewhat of a rarity these days and piqued my interest. An example was the inclusion of a trio of bad puns just for the hell of it got the huge groans they deserved but were fun nonetheless. A fair bit of his material was steeped in Ironic Misogyny (which was entertaining if you identified it as such) but he dared to push it too far with a line of extremely poor taste that almost made the audience turn on him. Fortunately he was able to back-peddle successfully and win us back with his cheeky persona.

Next on stage came Sonia Di Iorio with observations on being single, trashy television, rap music and . In spite of the pedestrian topics, she had a cynicism and world weariness (in spite of her youth) that provided a nice edge to her material. Sonia was supremely confident on stage and personable enough to command everyone’s attention to keep them laughing. Her decision to end on a long story that clearly had a weak pay-off was a bold move, especially when she admitted that she only has the length of this shows run to work it out.

Rounding out the show was Anthony Jeannot whose jokes traded heavily on grammatical pedantry and cynicism. Targets such as his personal trainer, his girlfriend and various fellow commuters all copped a serve with his eloquent and clever lines that were counterbalanced with silly figurative jokes. He closed with a reading of a letter to a multinational company which perfectly captured the innocence of childhood along with a jaded attitude to add extra bite.

With enough variety in the comedic styles this was a fun hour from some great up and comers (must…resist…using… the line… about…seeing them…before…they are…famous!).

Almost Almost Almost Famous is on at The Bull & Bear

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/almost-almost-almost-famous/

Lawrence Mooney in Lawrence of Suburbia

By Daniel Sheppard. 

If I was asked to list the most underrated cotmedians in Melbourne, I’d immediately jump for Lawrence Mooney. Everybody seems to know  vaguely  of  Lawrence, with his constant presence on TV and radio but despite the accolades of his peers, he’s never really reached the fame that his talent deserves. Lawrence of Suburbia is yet another showcase of his prodigious talent, and a perfect opportunity for everybody to observe a master at work.

Lawrence is a fantastic storyteller, painting scenes from the suburbs in extraordinary detail. His evocative description of a suburban fish and chips shop in particular was completely immersive, with the perfect blend of nostalgia and humor. Equally, his descriptions of suburban mothers, bike riding and mixed lollies creates an unmistakable image of the 70’s suburban world. Combined with this storytelling is Lawrence’s amazing character work, slipping between childhood wonder and drunken tradesmen without missing a beat. The expressiveness on his face as he recreates the aggressive suburban bogan is astounding.
However, this show is more than just an onslaught of nostalgia for the suburbs of the past. After taking the audience back to the suburbs, Lawrence takes us on his own personal journey of leaving the suburbs and heading into the city. Through university infatuations, sharehousing and the exhaustions of growing up, the tale is brought full circle as Lawrence meets his current partner and heads back out into the burbs. We get to experience his new world without the glare of nostalgia as he settles back into the suburban world.

Lawrence provides a delightful mix of comedy styles, with his storytelling, character work and aspirations to high theatre combined with his willingness to throw in a dick joke when it’s called for. With his natural style, it would be simple to think that Lawrence is just making easy jokes, but it’s just so comfortable on the stage that he makes it look easy. There’s a depth, intelligence and real emotion to that underlies all the humour in the show, but without ever becoming overbearing. Lawrence provides the audience with the quick and easy laughs, but if you want to invest more deeply in a show, there’s a depth here that will carry you through as well.

Normally when somebody asks me to recommend them a comedy show, it’s a long involved process of finding out their likes and dislikes, but this is one of those rare shows that makes the process easy. Whether it’s young or old, newcomers or comedy tragics, this is truly a show that will leave everybody laughing.
Lawrence Mooney is performing Lawrence of Suburbia at Arthurs Bar at Rosati

Wanda Sykes

By Annette Slattery.

Wanda Sykes is one of those people you recognise but you’re not sure from where. Have you seen here on the telly? In a movie? The answer is yes to both. Her credits include the film “Monster in Law”, TV’s “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and of course Larry David’s cult hit “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. She has also written for Chris Rock on “The Chris Rock Show”. Her credentials are impressive and so is her latest stand up show.

The show is opened by Keith Robinson who does a short spot with some risqué material. He took a little while to warm up but once he got his first big laugh from the large Capitol Theatre audience, he had the room playing into his hands.

Sykes started her set with the obligatory Australian material which was enjoyable, original and strong. After that she gets into what appears to be her show proper. Wanda covers politics (US politics), showing her support for Barack Obama and her dislike of the current crop of Republican nominees. She also talks about political causes, poking fun at her own occasional hypocrisy, and delivering a very funny set on gay marriage rights.

But she is easily at her best delivering the more personal of her material. Her acerbic observations of her French wife and her twin children, Lucas and Olivia, are deeply funny and beautifully authentic. Her uncanny ability to physically impersonate both her children is a source of great delight.

Watching Wanda Sykes at work you know you’re in the hands of a professional and you won’t be disappointed.

Wanda Sykes’ final show is on the 8th at the Melbourne Town Hall. Be aware that the night I attended the show ran over by about twenty minutes.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/wanda-sykes/ 

Jon Bennett – My Dad’s Deaths

By Cathy Culliver. 

If My Dad’s Deaths is anything to go by, Jon Bennett’s father has an uncanny knack for staying alive, and making his loved ones think he’s dead.

Bennett’s latest show is a funny and at times genuinely touching look at his relationship with his conservative, no-nonsense father and the times he had sincerely thought he’d lost him for good. And considering the man has apparently had a heart attack, fallen off a ladder five times and started three bushfires, it’s suffice to say Bennett has plenty of material to go with.

Bennett’s style is more storytelling than traditional stand up, and it’s an art form he’s mastered well. Best known for his tongue-in-cheek, internationally acclaimed show Pretending Things are a Cock, Bennett’s newest offering is a natural step into more mature and thoughtful comedy, and is a great platform to show off what he does best.

The show takes the audience through Bennett’s childhood growing up on a pig farm in rural South Australia, where his father was a hard man to avoid – he was Bennett’s school teacher, his football coach, his school’s bus driver and the local minister. Apparently also a deeply serious man, Bennett’s dad never swears – unless of course his son has just shot him in the chest, but you’ll have to see the show to hear the rest of that story.

Bennett also intersperses his show with hilarious poetry, brought on by the fact his dad wanted him to be like Banjo Patterson. Don’t expect any rhyming couplets or sweeping metaphors though – Bennett’s poetry style is more about graphic descriptions of birth and quoting status updates from one of the more culturally-challenged of his 1200+ Facebook friends. The result is very funny and makes for a good break between stories of his dad, well, dying.

Bennett is warm, engaging and very likeable. He is a master storyteller, and has the audience hanging on his every word. At times it’s easy to feel like you’re just hanging with a friend who happens to be telling you particularly entertaining stories about his life, such is Bennett’s natural charisma.

My Dad’s Deaths is an unaffectedly honest and entertaining show from a gifted local talent and one of the best storytellers you’re ever likely to see.

Jon Bennett – My Dad’s Deaths is showing at LOOP Project Space and Bar on Sunday 8 April, then at Tuxedo Cat from Thursday 12 April onwards.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/my-dad-s-deaths-jon-bennett/

Neil Sinclair – Panic

By Elyce Phillips

Neil Sinclair is a survivor. Perhaps not in the heroic sense, but certainly in a shambolic ‘managed not to die’ kind of way. Panic tells the tale of how Sinclair managed to get through the London Riots with naught but his wits, and copious amounts of wine to sustain him.

Sinclair has created a delightful show from what must have been a terrifying experience. The show is largely set in a Whitechapel flat, where Sinclair is panicking with his roommates as the rioters get closer to their home. The show has a very laid-back feel to it, however, perhaps because of Sinclair’s conversational style. There are occasional pieces that feel more structured, such as the interludes in his kitchen ‘War Room’, which are hilarious – particularly his pun-tastic readings from the twitter feed. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a good dad joke on occasion? Sinclair even pulls out the ukulele for a song or two, including a mesmerizing jingle for his electronics store, Neil’s Electrics.

Of course, the show is not all innocent puns and adorable ukulele. A wonderfully painful drawn-out moment in which Sinclair crafts the perfect comeback to his mum’s lecturing had me in tears. However, Sinclair’s story of the riots is a quintessentially British one. In the aftermath, no one discusses what has happened – something Sinclair attempts to rectify with a brilliant self-help tape. His roommate even has ‘fond memories’ of the event. It’s altogether civilized.

Panic is a quirky and downright charming show. Sinclair’s act is a little rough around the edges, but is so endearing that you find yourself rooting for him the whole way through. There is a lot to like about this show and Sinclair is certainly a comedian to keep your eye on.

Neil Sinclair –Panic! is on at Rue Bebelons Upstairs until April 21.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/panic-neil-sinclair/