Pinky Beecroft: Mainstream Freak

By Colin Flaherty

Originating from a drunken comment of “I could do that!” after seeing a show at the Comedy Festival, Pinky Beecroft has put his money where his mouth is to perform a one man storytelling show. Many years in bands such as Machine Gun Fellatio has armed him with numerous tales of success and excess. It all adds up to a highly entertaining hour of stories and songs with this interesting yet slightly strange man.

Pinky chose to let fate determine the structure of this show by employing a spinning wheel to select which story he would tell or whether he would sing a song instead. With each tale being a complex and detailed creature he barely scratched the surface of the topics on offer, ensuring that he is unlikely to be repeating himself too much over the run of this show. On the night I attended we were treated to an amusing entendre-filled song entitled “Spooning in a Softy on a Sunday Afternoon”, a letter recycled from his appearance on Women Of Letters, a story about having a limo at his disposal in Rockhampton, Queensland and a wild tale about hooking up with ladies after a show in Busselton, Western Australia.

All the segments were a delight and were frequently hilarious. They contained all sorts of details that were so strange that they just had to be true and this is where he mined for comedy gold. He often made passing remarks about the story at hand which was a bit like an amusing director’s commentary and gave us an insight into his thought process.

Beecroft’s style was a very rambling and slightly shambolic one that was quite similar to that of Anthony Morgan. In fact, some of his vocal inflections sounded quite similar to Morgan at times which is understandable as both men have lived life to the extreme. He frequently took off on various tangents, but he had the good sense to keep these diversions brief and return to the main thread. Adding his physical ailments to the mix and you have a show that could possibly fall apart at any moment, but he held it together and kept us glued to every word.

The one thing that exposes him as not having a background in Stand Up is the way he sighed with despair when the wheel spun up a story he was embarrassed by. He also had the habit of pointing out the truthful facts in his stories and often apologised in advance for a segment not being funny enough. A true Stand Up Comedian is masochistic enough to push through the discomfort of their material and not let the truth get in the way of an amusing line. These were surprising traits, as you would assume that such a Rock’n’Roll survivor wouldn’t give a toss what we believed and that an experienced entertainer would have greater confidence in his material; some might find it unprofessional while others would consider it endearing. In spite of himself, Pinky is a charismatic, seasoned performer who delivered a captivating, though rough around the edges show that was full of great humour.

Mainstream Freak is on at North Melbourne Town Hall in the Meeting Room until October 13.
For bookings go to the Fringe website http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/pinky-beecroft-mainstream-freak/

Ben Pobjie – Let’s Put On A Show

By Elyce Phillips

Writing reviews can be hard. You go and see a show and that’s all well and good, but then you have to somehow make words on a page about it and it’s all an awful lot of effort. Luckily, Ben Pobjie has made life easy for the critics among us by providing a short leaflet of suggested things to write when reviewing ‘Let’s Put On A Show’. And so… Ben Pobjie’s ‘Let’s Put On A Show’ is “a lot like having balloon animals forced down your throat by a Nazi.” I can say without doubt that “I spent the whole time vomiting on myself”. Wait, no. That won’t do at all. Let me start over.

Ben Pobjie’s ‘Let’s Put On A Show’ is a quick-witted improvisational exploration of comedic performance. Over the course of the hour, Pobjie attempts to uncover exactly what it is we, as an audience, want from a comedy show. He takes us through the essential components of any performance, from hecklers to joke topics, collaborating with the audience to figure out what we would consider to be the perfect show. Scattered throughout are stories about what drew Pobjie to comedy and his ongoing quest for fame.

Be prepared to get involved. This is an interactive show in an intimate venue, so you really don’t have anywhere to hide. Now, the words “audience participation” have been known to strike fear into the heart of many a festival goer – myself among them – but be assured that it is not as terrifying as it may sound. Pobjie works with the crowd to create comedy, as opposed to singling out individuals to be the butt of the joke.

On the night I attended, there were moments where the audience was reticent to participate, but on the whole, they were willing to collaborate, throwing out the topic of “cute animals” as the thing they’d most like to see a show about. Pobjie’s ability to take a topic and run with it is impressive. Cute animals may not be an intuitive source for comedy, but Pobjie managed to take the discussion in a hilarious and somewhat disturbing direction after discovering that a gentleman in the front row had a cat named Barbarella. The more the audience puts into this show, the more you will get back.

‘Let’s Put On A Show’ is great fun. Go along, get involved and you won’t be disappointed. I for one hope to see our chosen production – ‘Barbarella the Cat and the Japanese Slitface Ghost Go Camping’ – at the Comedy Festival next year.

Ben Pobjie – Let’s Put On A Show is on at Son of Loft at the Lithuanian Club until October 13

http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/let-s-put-on-a-show/

Live on Air with Poet Laureate Telia Nevile

By Lisa Clark

I know; you’re just in the mood for a night out of poetry… No? Well Telia Nevile might change your mind. She’s not only a winning wordsmith, but an engaging performer who understands the unappreciated nature of her calling and wants to convert everyone to her passion for poetry. She does this via her alter ego the similarly named Poet Laureate Telia Nevile a persona she maintains until the very end when the show is over.

Our Poet Laureate is in her pyjamas in a room with a cosy armchair and coffee table that still manages to conjure the feel of a bedroom from which she is hosting her own pirate radio poetry show. It’s a radio show that includes segments called Pet Peeves and Story Time. It is a pretty standard teen fantasy, similar to putting on concerts in your bedroom while singing into your hairbrush… which I hear some teens do. ehem. In past shows, often in school uniform, the Poet Laureate has been portrayed as an angst ridden teenager and that is how she seems when we first meet her, but the show appears to skip through the years as she becomes a grown up Telia going through some sort of mid life crisis. The echoes of the angsty teen in the early poems are gradually left behind as she rails against the drudgery of boring jobs that artists must take to survive in ‘The Working Blues’, then onto following her dreams and finally it’s about not losing hope even after years of struggling which made this show seem more personal than previous ones.

The show was a little uneven with some stand out pieces soaring above the rest but everything was pretty entertaining. The stand outs were her Pet Peeves segment which was a cookie-monster style roared rant about punctuation set to music by German industrial metal legends Rammstein and the Story Time segment which was some hilarious gay fan fiction about two characters on The West Wing that became explicit enough to give this show a possible AO rating! So you might not want to take anyone who’s easily embarrassed. The crowd-pleasing tribute to 80s Rock love ballads was not a new concept and went on a bit long, but proved that we’ve forgotten just how successful Phil Collins was.

The night I was there happened to be the day the tunnels were closed and Melbourne had severe traffic jams. She had to put up with nearly half her audience arriving late, while the show was in progress in a tiny space and she kept right going without letting it distract her. Or at least letting the distraction show. It was a bit of a problem for the audience, because the language is so dense that the show requires some serious concentration. That concentration pays off though because there is a lot to enjoy and her final poem about surviving as an artist was a stunner that brought a tear to my eye.

I’ve always enjoyed Telia Nevile’s work, she’s been able to consistently create new ways to make her audience laugh with her clever poetry and personas. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

5 Good Reasons to see Wizard Sandwiches

After gathering a following online with their videos, Wizard Sandwiches are transfering their comedy stylings to the stage for this year’s Fringe. Come along and devour their sketch treats.

1. It’s Edible Comedy. You can see it, you can smell it, you can digest it. We are The Wizard Sandwiches!

2. “I laughed so hard, my cheeks hurt” – Show Goer

3. There are sketches about Llamas and Cowboys

4. The ending of the show not only entertains, but also raises awareness amongst the audience

5. Do you like abbreviated game shows!? Sure you do!

The Wizard Sandwiches are on until the 7th of Oct at Trades Hall – Annexe
Tuesday to Sunday at 8:30pm.
To buy tickets go to: http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/the-wizard-sandwiches/

Slutmonster and Friends

By Colin Flaherty

Slutmonster and Friends tells the tale of two bickering brothers, Larch (Lucas Heil) and Bovril (Wes Gardner) who find themselves at Death’s Door in a strange land. They meet a furry hermaphroditic creature (Jessie Ngaio) and her woodland friends, and proceed to descend further into madness. It’s a sick, twisted and perverted play that’s gutbustingly hilarious.

With a brightly coloured day-glo set featuring phallic mushrooms and tit covered trees, it was apparent that this was going to be a gaudy, over the top and lewd production. The monster’s bright pink costume complete with breasts and large schlong was as brilliant as it was disturbing and is sure to grasp the attention of the Furry crowd. Colourful, innocent puppet characters (operated by each of the trio when their characters were off stage) were a perfect contrast to the dark story by adding some cheerful optimism to the events.

At it’s core this show was a musical with many jaunty songs giving background details to the action. This contrast between content and delivery provided the comedic power. The graphic lyrical imagery provoked guilty nervous laughter as well as belly laughs as you tapped your toe to the upbeat music.

Heil and Gardner bounced brilliantly off one another as a comedic duo. They stuck to their roles of straight man and wacky guy but each got their fair share of amusing Pythonesque lines. The script delivered plenty of laughs while progressing the plot at a quick clip. The duo also got to flex their dramatic muscles as the story approached the gates of hell. Their physical performances were great with slapstick and exaggerated simulated sex pulled off with ease.

Ngaio’s performance as the monster was wonderful; grinning like an ignorant idiot as all sorts of deviant sexual acts were performed on her and plenty of gruesome carnage occurred. The strange animalistic eroticism exuded by her was exploited for many laughs. It was the classic portrayal of the misunderstood monster protagonist.

The dramatic structure to this show was brilliant. Animated segments employed the “unreliable narrator” literary device by portraying a fairytale-style sanitised version of the depraved events taking place on stage. When the shit hit the fan at the dramatic apex, the darkness was drawn out beyond breaking point; a point which would kill any other comedy show. Following it up with the stupidest sequence imaginable to release the tension was a master stroke. There were plenty of plot twists to keep the audience on their toes and divert the plot from obvious places. Although some action took place off stage, hints in the form of clever props and off the cuff remarks by particiants let the audience put together the gruesome details.

This show may look simple and purely base on the surface, but there is a depth to it that will provoke discussion afterwards. Allusions to The Tempest and a visual nod to a CSI trope had it pulling literary references from all corners with many elements still being discovered on the drive home. In fact most audience members were laughing and chatting about it all the way onto the street. It’s such an affective piece that I could have sworn I heard someone humming the Slutmonster’s theme song!

Despite the use of puppets, the late night time slot and vivid language in the blurb ensure that this show won’t be mistaken for family friendly fare. It certainly won’t appeal to the prudish but if you like your humour on the perverted side, you’ll be gagging for more.

Slutmonster and Friends is on at Club Voltaire until October 14.
For Further info visit the Melbourne Fringe website http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/slutmonster-and-friends/

Victoria Healy ‘s Anatomy

By Elyce Phillips

Do you like science? Do you like facts? Do you like facts about science? Well, Victoria Healy has got the show for you. In an attempt to overcome her squeamish discomfort with the human body and all its doings, Healy has learned all about our anatomy and shares her findings with you in ways comedic and informative.

Anatomy explores various parts of…well, the anatomy, through stories about Healy’s relationship with her own body, interspersed with a variety of entirely scientific facts. You’ll learn about hands, feet, even knees – if that’s the sort of thing you are into. There’s a lot of ground covered in this show. ‘Anatomy’ is jam-packed with all kinds of information about the body, but it’s presented in such an amusing, conversational way that it’s never overwhelming. The experience is like having a chat with a friend who has just started taking a new class that is so excited about all the new stuff that they’ve learned that they’re just busting to tell somebody all about it. You can’t help but immediately get on board with the subject matter.

Healy is a quick-witted and talented comedic performer, who is only getting better and better at her craft. Her new show not so much celebrates the human body as examines it with equal parts awe and disgust. Healy has a knack for instilling her own fascination for the subject of the human body into her material. An extensive analogy about gang life has certainly given me a whole new level of respect for the immune system. The show is most assuredly a crowd pleaser. On opening night, Healy performed to a packed house, all of whom seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.

One word of warning for the incredibly squeamish among us – Healy does not dance about the fact that our bodies are at times downright disgusting, and while I took perverse glee in moments such as her truly vivid description of a lobotomy procedure, it may not be for everyone. But for those who are game, Victoria Healy’s Anatomy is thoroughly entertaining and you might even learn a thing or two.

Victoria Healy‘s Anatomy is on at the Locker Room at The Portland Hotel until October 8th

For Further info visit the Melbourne Fringe website  http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/victoria-healy-s-anatomy/.