Dave Warneke – Fact!

By Colin Flaherty.

You may have seen a young fella spruking his show around the Town Hall using a life-sized cardboard cut-out of himself. If you liked his sales pitch and wandered down to The Tuxedo Cat, you would have experienced a high energy performance by Dave Warneke, a brilliant comedic performer with three MICF shows under his belt and a bright future ahead.

In keeping with the theme, general knowledge facts were presented in the expected manner of presenting a tid bit of information and making a hilariously snarky comment about it. An example was the “Fact or Not So Fact?” quiz, a non threatening piece of audience participation where the audience answer en mass.

In other parts of the show the facts were used as a launching point for more interesting material. A general exploration of the manipulation of facts to suit a particular ideology or deception provided many fascinating and amusing examples. A routine about “Dave’s Body Facts” led to some wonderful self deprecating humour as well as an example of his endurance challenges that he regular posts as videos on the ‘net.

Dave had a wonderfully quirky delivery style. Jokes would get a added zing by following them up with cocky comments. He would regularly conjure zany lines from out of left field that were bizarre yet strangely relevant to the topic at hand.

Being a multi-instrumentalist, Dave used music as both accompaniment and an integral part of the jokes. A series of clever bass riff responses to hypothetical situations were delightful and some silly Synth-Pop tunes had plenty amusing ideas to keep all you laughing throughout. He wasn’t the strongest singer but he sure had a way with lyrics. A cool-jazz bass line providing the atmosphere to a film-noirish flirtation with a woman was an idea that has been done plenty of times before but he pulled it off flawlessly.

The use of PowerPoint was an effective use of the technology with the slides being used to emphasise his jokes with out too much reading for the audience. It also included some wonderfully wonky illustrations (apparently his course didn’t cover animation) for his silly children’s series featuring George the Keyboard Zebra. The only complaint was the need to project the images on the side due to space constraints which meant neck craning for some punters.

Dave explained that main reason for this show was to justify his Three Year Media and Drama degree so he seemed to have thrown everything bar the kitchen sink at this project. The results of his HECS Debt were certainly put to good use in producing this well rounded and hilarious show.

Dave Warneke – Fact! is on at The Tuxedo Cat

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/fact-dave-warneke/

Grand Final RAW Winners

And the Winner of RAW is Lesson’s with Louis (and his family) in Luis Presents Kidney Kingdom

In case you missed its now finished, short run, Luis Presents Kidney Kingdom can be likened to a play put on for you by your strange cousins when you visit them in their suburban home. The execution is superb, the characters perfectly defined and delightfully daggy. The three characters are; the star Luis, his ever supportive dad Len and his quietly suffering little brother Luelin. The family took us to the moon, through the jungle and under the sea in search of a new kidney for Len.

They also brought down the house when they performed at The Shelf during the Festival.
Here is their website where you can find videos of their work

http://www.lessonswithluis.com/

Runners Up at the RAW Grand Final were

Cameron James (NSW)

Amos Gill (SA)

RAW Comedy is Australia’s biggest and most prestigious open mic comedy competition and previous winners and finalists include Michael Workman, Neil Sinclair, Nick Sun, Nelly Thomas,  Josh Thomas, Hannah Gadsby, Peter Helliar, and Claire Hooper.

It is a pity that the RAW (or MICF) website provides no information about heat winners, which makes it hard to follow how things are going during the heats. One would think that providing easily accessible, up to date information online would be fairly simple in this day and age.
You shouldn’t have to subscribe and give over private information to find out.

Two days later there is still no news up on either The  Raw Comedy 2012 or MICF websites of the Grand Final winners.

http://comedyfestival.com.au/raw/

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/raw-comedy-national-grand-final/

Hannah Gadsby – Hannah Wants a Wife

By Cathy Culliver. 

If anyone ever tries to tell you that female comedians aren’t funny, just point them in the direction of Hannah Gadsby and then see what they have to say for themselves.

One of Australia’s brightest comedy stars, Gadsby is the kind of comedian who makes it all look so easy, like anyone could base a show around a 15th century painting and make it utterly hilarious. For the record, they couldn’t – but Gadbsy can.

In her new show, Hannah Wants a Wife, Gadsby talks about her two great loves: art and women. As you might guess from the title, the subject of gay marriage comes up, but as Gadsby says, she only wants to get married so as to make it “harder for someone to leave me”.

The focal point of the show is Gadsby’s favourite painting, Jan van Eyck’s famous Arnolfini Portrait. Gadsby clearly knows her stuff as she takes the audience through the symbols and meanings hidden within the painting, but this is no drab art history lesson. Gadsby’s enthusiasm is infectious, and her own personal interpretations of what the painting means are
hilarious.

Gadsby’s show has plenty to say on marriage, time-travelling lesbians, gender roles and why fat people aren’t built to survive the apocalypse. It’s a clever, thought-provoking show that has the audience frequently in fits of laughter. Just don’t expect a big finish, that’s not her style – Gadsby prefers lot of little peaks throughout the show. Wink wink.

Regularly seen on TV’s In Gordon Street Tonight with Adam Hills, Gadsby has been doing quite well for herself and it’s clear to see why. She’s warm, funny and sharp as a whip, and infinitely likeable. Hannah Wants a Wife is a great offering that’s definitely taking the time to see this festival.

Hannah Wants A Wife is on at the Banquet Room at the Victoria Hotel

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/hannah-wants-a-wife-hannah-gadsby/

Constantinople

By Lisa Clark.

We begin with a journey of sight and (mostly) sound led by Trygve (pronounced Trig-vee) Wakenshaw as he weaves and manoeuvres around his partner in mime and silliness, Barney Duncan, who sits on a couch and reads the paper. It’s a soundscape of clips of words, music and effects that have been edited together and make little sense, apart from the constant clip cloppy footsteps as Trygve stomps about the stage, suggesting that he is on a journey. Unfortunately it was too long, loud, disjointed, and unfunny, such that I was led to despair that this was going to be one of those weird arty Fringe pieces more interested in showing off the performers’ miming skills than keeping audiences engaged.

Finally Barney rises and in the guise of the Emperor Constantine himself begins introducing us to the wonders of Constantinople which does something to start winning me over. Soon we are transported to the Hippodrome and perhaps the funniest skits of the show with Barney playing a horse while Trygve gives him a slightly suggestive massage.

The Festival Guide says this is a historically inaccurate look at an amazing city, obviously they are using the city’s history as a jumping point for their comedic skits, but I am impressed with how many historical accuracies were thrown into the mix to keep history fans on their toes. Their amusing use of pepper as a cocaine like drug does actually reflect the expense of and greed for the black spice at the time. I also enjoy the conversion of Christianity portrayed as a rave party with the 90s dance music morphing into the Hallelujah Chorus. If only the lame dancing about the room didn’t go on just a tad too long without anything much happening.

Apart from the sound being too loud for the small space the technical work on the show was excellent with perfect timing of lighting and sound that was crucial to much of the humour in the show. This is a great show for fans of They Might be Giant’s version of Istanbul Not Constantinople. You get to hear it 3 times, one of them live by Trygve and Barnie accompanied by ukulele. I also love the more subtle use of Rod Stewart’s Young Turks; another of my favourite songs.

There are some beautiful quirky moments throughout Contantinople and the performers are both highly skilled and entertaining physical performers who have about as much fun on stage as two men in togas can. Their inspiration from silent film comedy and Monty Python is clear though the execution is patchy, but then so was Monty Python at time, proving just how difficult it can be to pull off absurd sketch comedy. A fun show for those looking for something a bit different and even more fun if you hang on to your grapes ’til the end of the show.

Constantinople is on in the Old Council Chambers at Trades Hall

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/constantinople/

The Big HOO-HAA!

By Elyce Phillips.

Running in Melbourne since 2010, The Big HOO-HAA! is a regular feature in the local comedy calendar.  Throughout the year, the team presents their improvised comedy once a week at the Portland Hotel. But now it is festival time, and it is ON – four nights a week. Two teams, the Hearts (Sarah Rueben, Liam Ryan, Charlie Sturgeon) and the Bones (Brenna Courtney Glazebrook, Adam Kangas, Matt Saraceni) , battle it out in a series of improv games.

It can be a scary thing, going to an improvised comedy show. It’s all spur of the moment, there are no safety nets and there is every chance it could all go horribly wrong. But when it is good, it is an amazing thing to see. The Big HOO-HAA! is one of those great improv comedy experiences. With a strong cast of performers and some fantastic games, you are in for an incredibly entertaining (and often baffling) hour of comedy.

The show was consistently funny, thanks to the amazing cast. All of the performers had their moment to shine. Every game produced something brilliant – from the overplayed drama of ‘Oscar Winning Moments’ to the short, sharp gags of ‘Arnie’. The host, Emmet Nichols, kept the show fast-paced and kept the audience giggling. The audience is frequently encouraged to get involved, being asked to shout out suggestions for topics and vote for winners of games. If you are extra enthusiastic, you may even earn yourself an ‘I tried’ sticker.

The Big HOO-HAA! is a great way to start off your evening at the festival. Every night there is a

different cast, a different bunch of games and an entirely unique set of comedy – but there is always something to please.

The Big HOO-HAA! is on at Roxanne until April 21, and continues after the festival every Thursday at the Portland Hotel.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/big-hoo-haa-the/

WATSON –Shakespeare Fight Club

By Elyce Phillips.

Imagine, if you will, a battle royale where your weapon of choice is Shakespearian verse. Your guide is Caliban. Your enemy, Tybalt. Now imagine it in a small room in the Victoria Hotel, with next to no budget and a smattering of Star Wars references and you have something like Shakespeare Fight Club.

WATSON (Tegan Higginbotham and Adam McKenzie) are joined by Cameron McKenzie and Liam Ryan in bringing this stage spectacular to life. The whole production feels like a play a bunch of kids are putting on in their backyard. The props and set are made from bits and pieces from Bunnings, the costumes are huge, and the levels of enthusiasm are through (the incredibly low) roof. If you’re after a polished piece of comic theatre, this isn’t it. This late night show is hilarious chaos. Shakespeare Fight Club seems to be a show that the comedians are going to see. There were several in the audience the night I went, and it made the show self-conscious at times, as though they were playing to the comedians rather than the whole audience. One laughed exaggeratedly at a few jokes that missed the mark, which disrupted the flow of the show early on, however this was turned around to great effect during a scene in which Higginbotham hypnotizes McKenzie.

But Shakespeare Fight Club has some great moments. Liam Ryan’s Caliban is creepy in the best possible way. The fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed – there is even some shadow puppetry. The on-stage relationship between Higginbotham and McKenzie is one that really works. Higginbotham’s self-interested straight woman is the perfect foil to McKenzie’s endearingly dorky fool. The jokes are hit-and-miss, but they are delivered with such gusto that you just don’t care.

Shakespeare Fight Club is Shakespeare as it is meant to be seen – violent, very silly and full of dick jokes.

WATSON’s –Shakespeare Fight Club is on in the Acacia Room at the Victoria Hotel until April 21

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/shakespeare-fight-club-watson/