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/

Victoria Healy – Independent Women Part 2

By Elyce Phillips

Victoria Healy is the Beyoncé Knowles of Australian comedy. She’s dated the baddest of the bad boys, sings with all her heart, and can bring it to the dance floor. Of course, those bad boys are less like Jay-Z, and more ‘appeared on RBT’. And her microphone is a water bottle. And you may need to dodge flying bits of Pizza Hut beef mince as she shakes her booty. But hey, that’s all part of the charm.

Independent Women Part 2 is a coming-of-age musical journey. Transporting the audience through her formative years via the likes of Destiny’s Child, Shania Twain and (God help us) Fergie, Healy tracks her path to independence right from those first awkward friendships at school, as she tries to figure out exactly what it means to be a successful woman.

As a kid of the 90s, Healy’s show spoke to me. The songs that Healy loves are those ones that you know all the lyrics to, even if you hated them, because they were the ever-present soundtrack to every school trip and boozy backyard birthday party. The show is often crude, but is also very sweet and incredibly relatable. Her characters are spot on. Healy pinpoints the Australian male voice with alarming accuracy, used to great effect when telling stories of her early dating history. You could almost hear the audience crawling with discomfort as she re-enacted a date in Chinatown with an absolute charmer.

Independent Women Part 2 is painfully funny, wonderfully nostalgic and full of bogan charm. You can tell that Healy truly cares about the people she portrays, for all their flaws and eccentricities. Her story of finding independence is one she really wants to tell, and with good cause. This is a show to be seen with friends. Good friends and old friends, as many as you can convince to come along. You won’t regret it.

Warning: You may end up with Destiny’s Child songs stuck in your head for days after seeing this show.

Victoria Healy – Independent Women Part 2 is on at Rue Bebelons Upstairs until April 22

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/independent-women-part-2-victoria-

healy/

Triple J’s Good Az Friday

By Jayden Edwards

Now in it’s third year, Triple J rolled into the Melbourne Town Hall with 1200 of their closest friends for the annual “Good Az Friday” Outside broadcast.

Quickly becoming a major highlight of the festival, Triple J’s breakfast young guns Tom Ballard and Alex Dyson beamed 3 hours of stand up comedy, music and shenanigans around the country with help from Triple J buddies Sam Simmons, Dave Callan and Father Bob plus a big line up of stand up spots from the likes of Steven K. Amos, Tom Green, Celia Paquola, Mike Wilmot Paul Foot, Andy Kindler and more!

Young songstress Lisa Mitchell performed a couple of songs including a fantastic cover of M83’s Midnight City (sorry oldies, that’s a hip song the young people are down with) for regular Triple J segment “Like a Version”. The day accumulated with another Triple J tradition, a massive Friday Dance Off, which saw the Melbourne Town Hall jumping to the beats of Skrillex (more young people stuff). All in all a whole lot of fun and a great showcase to get those young folks out and seeing live comedy!

If you weren’t there, or missed it on the radio, you can hear everything i just told you here!

The Show:

Lisa Mitchell’s Like a Version:

Some Pics:

Daniel Burt – Inspired by Mediocrity

By Lisa Clark

A comedian who names his show ‘Inspired by Mediocrity’ has to be pretty careful not to put ideas about his performance in the audience’s or reviewers’ minds. Daniel Burt has certainly chosen some pretty mundane topics for his Festival show this year, such as Masterchef, over ordering in a restaurant, picnics and his disinterest in clothes buying. It’s a shame that despite being a lovely, warm guy with some neat comedy writing skills, he can’t really make any of these topics shine.

The idea behind Daniel’s show is that he’s been too much of a perfectionist and he wants to relax a bit and enjoy the middle ground. At the same time he does end up taking the mickey out of the mundane topics he touches upon, as well as himself. He began with great confidence and a pleasantly gentle, flowing, jazzy style that became more stilted and disjointed as it went along. I was thinking he might be a good comedian to bring your mum to until he got into some rather racey material that seemed to make a kid in front of me squirm just a bit.

The strongest parts of the show are actually pretty funny. I felt that he could have written an entire show around his experience as a party bus host. Audiences love a funny ‘behind the scenes’ story based around real life experiences. His talents as a journalistic writer stand out when he rises above the mediocre, such as his belief that  ‘hating pedophiles’ is a lazy and easy sell for a journo and then he had the audience in his hands when, during our show, he broke away from his script to discuss a news report about an outrageous racist in the newspaper that day. There was a frisson in the room as both audience and comedian actually got excited by something and the laughter was notably louder. Then it was back to the less interesting body of his show about being crap at housework and stuff.

The low point was when he threw in a joke about a man who is sadly famous for having relations with a goat. Not only did Daniel try to pass off an old generic joke as his own, (and I know he’s not the first comedian to do this) but he did it with such little skill that there was a barely a hint of laughter in the room. Maybe most of them had heard it done better. He pretty much lost me at that point. Here it is in the urban dictionary. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=goatfucker This throw away gag bares so little relation to his show I wonder why it is there at all. Unless it is a lack of confidence in his own comedic skill or trying to pad out the hour.

I know he does a lot of comedy writing, much of which I enjoy, but I’ve not seen Daniel around the live comedy traps. This is his third festival show and he’s still making rookie mistakes. I suggest that he might want to get out and do some spots at the regular comedy nights to iron this out in the future.

Daniel Burt – Inspired by Mediocrity is on at 1,000 pound bend

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/inspired-by-mediocrity-daniel-burt/

The Underlads – Living on Limbo Lane

By Colin Flaherty

Set at the end of last year’s MICF, Shrub and Wearnie inherit a house from their “Uncle Lucifer” and soon discover that not everything is as it seems. So begins the Underlads latest crazy adventure.

Every horror movie cliché imaginable was thrown into this show. It got to the point that identifying all the references sometimes took precedence over laughing at the jokes. There was lots of witty wordplay, hilarious verbal and physical conflict, and plenty of absurd ideas running throughout. The plot twisted and turned all over the place but still remained coherent enough to follow.

The references to ghost sex in the program blurb made it clear that they would delve into some risqué and disturbing concepts, making it not one for sensitive souls. This was emphasised with some sexually graphic visuals and crude song parodies that simultaneously titillated and grossed out. Add to this the splatter elements of horror and a homoerotic subtext, and you get a show that traded on sophomoric humour but managed to do so in inventive ways.

A massive amount of work has gone into this show. From the clever props to the scarily accurate puppet replicants, to the extensive video footage there was boundless creativity on display. A semi transparent screen allowed the guys to interact with video both on stage and behind as shadows. This allowed some additional characters (all played by the duo) to be efficiently incorporated into the story to provide some relief from the boys running about the stage shouting at one another.

Their acting chops got a workout as the on screen actions required perfect timing to pull off the visual jokes. Both performers were on the go from start to finish as plenty of colour and movement was required to sell this kind of broad humour and slapstick. Things denigrated into constant cartoon violence as the show reached its climax, but their enthusiasm was so infectious that it was impossible not to be swept up.

They each cranked up their characters to eleven but still managed to clearly maintain their roles in the classic format of the double act; Wearnie as the dimwit and Shrub as the practical one. There were fascinating moments of deconstruction that appeared to be off the cuff, but soon were revealed to be as tightly scripted as the rest of the performance.

This show certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste, but if the prospect of seeing a pair of flesh and blood cartoon characters in an ejaculate and blood soaked (figuratively not literally) romp sounds appealing, this is worth checking out.

Living on Limbo Lane is playing at 1000 £ Bend

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/living-on-limbo-lane-underlads-the/

Sammy J and Randy in The Inheritance

By Daniel Sheppard

Carrying on the journey of their last two shows together (2010’s Rickett’s Lane and 2011’s Bin Night), The Inheritance takes our self-centered no-hopers to Britain in the wake of Randy’s uncle dying and leaving him with unexpected riches. A tale of secrets, debauchery, jealousy, mistaken identity and murder unfolds. There’s a series of twists in the saga, so I won’t go into great detail, but it’s a great little story that they’ve woven together.

The stage design and puppetry have taken a step up from the last few shows, especially the delightfully grotesque groundskeeper. While not quite at the level of production of Forest of Dreams, it’s unlikely that you’ll find a more impressive production in the festival. Heath McIvor’s skill as a puppeteer is really showcased here, and it’s a delight to see such an under-appreciated art given an outlet.

Sam and Heath seem really comfortable in their characters here, and their ease on stage allows them to really enjoy themselves. Even with such a tightly scripted show incorporating musical numbers and constant stage changes, they’re both relaxed enough on stage be able to break out of the show when the opportunity arises. This sense of fun is infectious, making it impossible not to get caught up in the enjoyment of the performers.

This show is probably a good re-entry point into Sammy J and Randy for those that were brought in by Forest of Dreams but were shocked away by the darker more misanthropic nature of the characters of recent years. The edge is all still there, but there’s an extra level of charm in this show that makes it much more accessible. Sammy J and Randy are on a great little journey together, and this show is a great opportunity to get on board and see where else they’re going to take us.

Sammy J & Randy perform The Inheritance at Forum Theatre downstairs.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/the-inheritance-sammy-j-randy-in/