Asher Treleaven Troubadour

By Elyce Phillips

Is my life interesting enough to talk about for an hour? This is the question at the center of Asher Treleaven’s Troubadour, the fifth in his continuing series of door-named shows. Luckily for the audience, the answer is a resounding yes. Treleaven delights with stories of growing up with a chaotic assortment of father figures and spending his formative years working as a carnie. His comedy is a seamless blend of the cerebral and the physical, as he waxed lyrical about the nature of masculinity while flouncing about the stage, limbs flailing.

The show opens with a simple explanation of the show’s premise, and it is made clear that Treleaven’s question is not rhetorical. The decision is yours to make. At the end of the show, the audience must pass judgment on the interestingness of Treleaven’s life. But there’s no need to worry! Treleaven helps you answer this question by working through Edward De Bono’s six thinking hats – a problem solving system many of us are all too familiar with from tedious hat-colouring sessions at work or school. The six hats are a constant guiding presence at the back of the stage, including a truly spectacular replica of Princess Beatrice’s pink monstrosity standing in as the red hat – a brilliant investment on Treleaven’s part.

The audience loved every moment of the show, and Treleaven fed off this. One gentleman in the front row was particularly tickled by the image of a person marrying a horse, which led to some great ad-libbing about Bob Katter in the Harry Potter universe. Treleaven’s performing arts background really shines through. He expertly held the attention of every person in the tiny sauna that is the Town Hall Cloak Room, not to mention that his circus training has provided him with a spectacular university graduation piece.

Despite Treleaven’s (entirely accurate) statements about comedians being cynical at heart, Troubadour is an incredibly uplifting show. It tells a story of self-acceptance without being preachy and feels remarkably positive without being saccharine. And it is hilarious. If you’ve yet to see one of  Treleaven’s shows, get yourself to this one.

Asher Treleaven – Troubadour is on at the Melbourne Town Hall in the Cloak Room.

Tessa Waters – A Little Bit of Standing Up and A Little Bit of Falling Down

By Colin Flaherty

With a theme of happiness, Tessa Water’s new show exuded it in abundance. From the high energy opening utilising party poppers and lots of glitter, this was a show full of joy and enthusiasm.

Exploring the quest for happiness throughout her life, Tessa explained the things that provided contentment to her and showed us the often embarrassing things she had done to achieve them. The use of pre-recorded audio with which she could interact was a wonderful device to transport the audience to scenes in her youth. This was especially true of the scenes set in her childhood where we could get the full impact of the awkward younger Tessa fumbling her way through life in her pursuit of happiness.

Tessa was wonderfully expressive in the theatrical pieces, portraying the naivety of a child with the fearlessness of looking silly to get a laugh. Her delivery in the stand up portions of the show was complimentary with her daggy and bubbly personality getting the audience enthused about the minutae of life while simultaneously laughing at Tessa and her silliness; a vital task as this was the crux of the show.

Dancing became a reoccurring motif throughout the show which provided many opportunities for Tessa to strut her stuff, providing lots more colour and movement to an already flamboyant performance. A highlight was the recreation of a rehearsal at Miss Kate’s Dance Academy. This brilliant piece was equal parts heart-breaking pathos and hilariously daggy triumph.

Some quieter moments were used in the closing segments to contrast the high energy performance. One was a cigarette break which included a monologue about her move into the arts. It was a playful mocking of the expectation for her to become a serious adult and disregard all frivolity. This was beautifully complimented by a “Challenging piece of theatre” set to the overture of The Barber of Seville which was wonderfully stupid and deliberately over long; a great parody of overly serious art.

The closing story about her Grandfather was a moving tale that brings home the essence of the show without being too heavy handed. At the conclusion of this lovely performance, the audience left the venue with a smile on their faces and a warm inner glow. It was a perfect show to remind people of the happiness that everyone can achieve.

A Little Bit of Standing Up and A Little Bit of Falling Down is on at The Tuxedo Cat

Dave Thornton – The Some of All The Parts

By Jayden Edwards

The incredibly down to earth Dave Thornton returns to the comedy festival fresh from killer runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and all over the place. His head’s increasingly on the telly, on the radio, man, he must be doing something right.

Dave’s new show “The Some of All The Parts” is just another big fat slice of that “something”. The show is structured around an impending gig for a group of 12 year old private school kids, a terrifying thought, even for a seasoned professional public speaker like Dave. It’s the lead up to that faithful day that Dave draws his material, fleshing out hair-brained schemes to spark inspiration on how to inspire, like a well timed dream opportunity to interview a personal hero and an awkward sit-in on his mums sex ed class.

Dave squeezes every conceivable laugh from the story aspect of the show, while managing to tie in some general observational told with expert comic timing and larrikinism. Dave riffs off the audience with the best of them, the show flows effortlessly, there’s heart and soul behind the jokes, he’s charming, quick, witty…. I could go on and on! I guess what i’m trying to say is, Dave just doesn’t put a foot wrong. The ending is a classic underdog tale of conquering fear and kicking 12 year old school kid butt! Well, if they kids weren’t inspired, I was.

The simple fact is, stand-up just doesn’t get much better that this. Just straight, witty, accessible stand-up. A Dave Thornton gig is guaranteed gold. (Trust me, I saw him perform twice that night.)

Dave Thornton is on at Swiss House.

Xavier Michelides – The Brain Whisperer

By Lisa Clark

Xavier is one of those comedians who’s talent can make your jaw drop and your brain think, “why isn’t he more famous yet?” There are so many superb zany ideas, whacky characters and silly voices packed into his show that in other hands it might have been a bit messy but Xavier’s brain has not let him down.

Xavier has crafted an ingenious network of sketches, monologues, mime and even interpretive dance to map the many aspects we associate with the complex and mysterious brain. The membrane holding the show altogether is a fictional relationship Xavier has with his own brain and although there is much silliness and amusement in them chatting, bickering and splitting up to find new partners, it is this story that gives us a real insight into the brain of a working comedian and an idea of where the show’s concept may have originated.

Xavier’s sketches are all brain related, of course and if I have any faults to pick it would be that there are slightly awkward pauses between them where the audience was unsure about whether to clap and that their might have been a few too many characters for the audience’s poor brains to keep up with. Though Xavier does have a knack for picking the perfect comedy voices to go with his characters. The sketches include; the relationship between Emotions and Memory which were portrayed beautifully as characters in conflict, the inevitable psychiatrist and patient relationship and God and Gabriel discussing faith. A regular running gag is some sudden brain related commercials for products such as drugs to make your dreams continue or ‘celebrity brain snacks’.

A strong aspect of the show is blocks of straight standup comedy by Xavier which are attached to the main membrane of plot, but also inspires off shooting skits. These are conventionally funny and are exceptional examples of how the best comedians are able to slot their stand up gear into an interesting hour long festival show. In one of the skits, Xavier has written a call back that is so impressive that it receives a round of applause.

Xavier has been blessed with a comedian’s funny face and anyone who has seen his nutty TV adverts for this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival will agree that his face alone can make you laugh. This is beautifully combined with intelligent writing, perfect comic timing and superb character acting skills. He reminds me a little of a young Rowan Atkinson with loads of potential and a definite star on the rise. This is not a personal heart on sleeve show but it is a very entertaining look into the mind of a very funny guy.

Xavier Michelides – The Brain Whisperer in on at The Portland Hotel

This is Siberian Husky – Boneshaker

By Cathy Culliver

If there’s one thing This is Siberian Husky are definitely not, it’s lacking in energy. Duo Dan Allemann and Simon Godfrey are known for their quirky brand of frenetically-paced sketch comedy, and their latest offering, Boneshaker, is no exception. This show is lively, fervent and above all highly entertaining, though it’s certainly not for anyone looking for a relaxing hour of traditional stand up and ordinary humour.

Absurd but thought-provoking at the same time, Boneshaker takes its audience through highs and lows, from creepy to mundane, from touching to the downright silly. The show covers everything from the Melbourne housing crisis to expired yoghurt to the pros and cons of boiling cats. So to say you never quite know what’s coming next would be a fair understatement.

This is Siberian Husky are a slick, tight unit, never dropping a beat throughout the hour-long show. Switching effortlessly from posh English gents to deranged monsters in a matter of seconds, the duo change characters in the blink of an eye; as an audience member, it’s part of the fun just to see them do it.

The duo’s mime skills also certainly deserve a mention. Armed with the most minimalist of props, Allemann and Godfrey never leave the audience doubting that they are being guided through a dark, twisted world of fascinating characters, even though in reality it’s just a couple of guys on a stage, putting on accents and standing on boxes.

The pace with which the duo perform the show is impressive, and it’s obvious how much hard work has gone into making the skits flow so effortlessly from one to the next. The energy both guys put into the show is intense and passionate, so it’s no wonder than Allemann had to apologise for sweating onto an audience member during one of the skits.

This show is definitely a must-see if you like comedy to be silly, surprising and just that little bit unsettling. But in a good way, of course.

This is Siberian Husky – Boneshaker is showing at the Lunch Room, Melbourne Town Hall.

DeAnne Smith – Livin’ the Sweet Life

By Lisa Clark

 Canadians are so gosh darn adorable, no matter how filthy they are or even when they are insulting the audience and I think we have found the most adorable Canadian of all. Even before DeAnne Smith had officially began her show, she was heckled rudely and her handling of it was breathtaking. Her ability to put him in his place while make the audience laugh and feel at ease suggests years of stage experience and excellent people skills. It also failed to throw her off from performing another ace comedy festival show which confirms why she was nominated for The Barry last year.

The title, Living the Sweet Life is unsurprisingly ironic and to help demonstrate this DeAnne picks an audience member out for special consideration. It may or may not be in your interest to sit in the front row, depending on how shy you are. Her own sweet life includes parent’s who have become too comfortable with her sexuality, her middle class liberal guilt, a date that ends in the emergency department of a major hospital and a disturbing wax incident. Waxing was a bit of a passe subject a few years ago, usually talked about by wide eyed comedians who had not been through it, but DeAnne’s experience is astounding and hilarious. Another highlight for me was her participation in a ten day silent meditation retreat, not unlike the one Judith Lucy went through in her Spiritual Journey.

If you are seriously, easily offended this one might not be for you, DeAnne discusses lesbian oral sex, watching straight porn and she tells some dick jokes, but then maybe you should try a different festival altogether. It’s hard to imagine anyone being offended by DeAnne, she puts on a strong hour of bright, perky comedy which occasionally touches on dark subject matter. The show is bookended by hilarious songs that she plays on the ukulele, surely the cheeriest of instruments. The first is a chirpy tune about death and the last about nerdy pickup lines which really reminds me of Josh Earl, as does her haircut.  A fabulous show for a girls night out at the comedy festival, everyone is bound to have a great time and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch one of her chocolates.

Livin’ the Sweet Life is on at the Meeting Room at Trades Hall