Sarah Jones’ Magical History Tour

By Cathy Culliver

There’s really nothing to not like about Sarah Jones; she’s sweet, warm and engaging with a healthy dose of self-deprecation. And the lady is one fine ventriloquist.

Her latest show Sarah Jones’ Magical History Tour takes the audience through the history of ventriloquism while introducing a host of colourful characters along the way.

There’s Maxwell the magical parrot (who may or may not survive the show), the mermaid Helvetica and Dennis Hall the tennis ball, to name a few. Jones also manages to make one of the audience members her puppet, which makes for one of the funniest moments of the show.

If there is a criticism of this thoroughly enjoyable show, it would be that more material on the history on ventriloquism is needed; instead of it being the focus of the show as the title would suggest, Jones only devotes a small segment to it.

What material she does have, however, is as interesting as it is entertaining. For example, did you know that early ventriloquists didn’t use puppets at all? Instead they used their skills to trick people into thinking it was a spirit talking to them.

Jones also mentions that although it used to be a popular art form in the days of vaudeville, she is now one of only four ventriloquists left in the whole of Australia. It seems sad and a little alarming.

Given Jones has only been performing ventriloquism for two and a half years, we can only hope this talented performer keeps going from strength to strength and keeps this art form alive for some years to come.

 

Sarah’s Show has finished it’s season in Adelaide.

5 Good Reasons to see The Improv Conspiracy’s Our Friend Harold, Dirty Thirties and Here Come The Girls

The Improv Conspiracy will soon return to The Croft Institute for another festival season of hilarious improvised mayhem.  

Here are 5 Good Reasons to check out their new show Our Friend Harold:
                                      
1. It’s 100% improvised, so no two shows will be the same. We have no idea what is going to happen each night until you suggest something, which means we’re always genuinely excited to perform.  Get burnt out or sick of our material halfway through the festival? Not us!

2. Each show is actually TWO shows in one!  The Harold is an improvised format that takes around 30 minutes to perform, so our hour-long show features two Harold teams who each get their chance to make you laugh!
                                                                         
3. We now have five different Harold teams, so you’d have to come to three shows in order to see them all and pick your favourite.  And we really recommend that you DO pick a favourite, and let everyone know… we want our in-house team rivalries to mimic the best feuds in the sporting world!

4. In addition to our large list of veteran cast members, we’ve just added 11 hilarious new performers to the roster. We’ve been training them in a secret comedy laboratory since October! Seriously, we actually have a secret comedy laboratory: http://improvconspiracy.com/workshops 

5. Improvised comedy is underrepresented in the Comedy Festival. The Harold format is underrepresented in the world of Australian improvised comedy. We’re performing Harolds in one of the city’s most difficult-to-find, hidden laneway bars. Come on hipsters, it doesn’t get much more niche than this!  Melbourne at its finest.

For more information, check out http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2013/season/shows/our-friend-harold-the-improv-conspiracy and http://www.improvconspiracy.com

 

5 Good Reasons To See Erin Melville and Morven Smith in  Dirty Thirties @ Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2013

1. Are you feeling a little bit dirty? Or are you simply feeling a little bit thirty? Whether you’re in your Dirty Thirties, Naughty Forties or the Nifty Fifties, Morven and Erin’s tales
of the past, the present and perspective on the future really resonate. The ladies, 31 and 35, have led an interesting existence to say the least!

2. If you’re in your twenties this is a show that will give you plenty of belly laughs – at some point you’ll reach your thirties – they did and look at them now! The show is pro-ageing. It’s about embracing the fine lines, nuzzling those metabolic changes and getting ready for the next stage; you can’t go backwards, only forward!

3. All the single ladies, all the single ladies don’t fret. Dirty Thirties will show you a sure-fire way to figure out whether he’s a good egg or a bad egg. Applicable to the single gents as well!

4. Morven treats the audience to a demonstration of her ‘special’ talent, which all audience members can attempt to learn at home, guaranteed to massively improve your life, in many different ways! They’re a generous pair and want to make sure they’re doing their bit to ‘give back’.

5. The girls powered through a great run at the Adelaide Fringe securing great reviews and awesome feedback from the crowds (despite a bumpy start with knobbish venue owners of the Bullshit and Hard to Bear Adelaide pulling the plug on day 1 of Fringe – thanks Ambassadors Hotel Adelaide!). This duo of up and coming Melbourne comediennes have been working hard all around the world and have great show-chemistry. Come to the show, share in the fun and the laughs and feel as though you’re hanging out with a couple of old mates.

Dirty Thirties is on from March 27th – April 7th, 11 shows only. No Mondays. 930pm/830pm Sunday @ Red Violin 231 Bourke Street. 3000.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2013/season/shows/dirty-thirties-erin-melville-morven-smith

 

And now: the 5 reasons for Here Come The Girls

1. The sell-out 2012 show returns with a new line up of hilarious ladies from the local Melbourne circuit, interstate and around the world. Host Erin Melville (Otherwise known as Lady Melville) puts together a different
line up every night with a few surprises!

2. Each show features one bloke, the token bloke or as they’re affectionately known, the ‘cock spot’. Just one though. 5 girls, 1 guy – lucky fella!

3. Previous acts have included Shappi Khorsandi, Bev Killick, Urzula Carlson, Jan Maree, Em O’Loughlin, Linda Beatty, Geraldine Quinn and many more. Plus last year we saw Akmal Saleh, Jeff Green, Marcel Lucont, Chris Franklin and Greg Fleet make special appearances. This year will feature some firm favourites as well as a few names that can’t be mentioned…yet!

4. The show will continue it’s support of White Ribbon – Australia’s campaign to stop violence against women. Last year the show contributed part proceeds and sold bands and ribbons, raising almost $1000. A one-off all-proceeds event was held in November 2012 and HCTG raised over $1400 in one night.

5. It’s a fun night out for girls and guys alike, something for everyone. Silly, sassy, surprising comedy… Here Come The Girls!

Red Violin 231 Bourke St, Melbourne 3000. www.tixnofee.com
March 27th – April 21st (No Monday’s) 815pm/715pm Sundays

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2013/season/shows/here-come-the-girls

Marcel Lucont – Gallic Symbol

By Cathy Culliver

Marcel Lucont probably doesn’t even need anyone to review his show. He’s already a pretty vocal and enthusiastic supporter of himself. As he reminds the audience, if you enjoy his show, you are correct.

The suave Frenchman bills himself as a classic specimen of a man, irresistible to women and supremely talented in, well, everything. His new show Gallic Symbol opens with him singing “I’m so much better than you”, just in case you were, you know, having any initial doubts.

Monsieur Lucont is of course just a character played by UK native Alexis Dubus, but you could be forgiven for being duped into thinking this really is a Frenchman who really does think that much of himself.

Dubus has the character down pat; the clothes, the bare feet, the glass of red wine cradled in one hand … not to mention the general air of arrogance and disgust for everything that is not French. It’s all utterly convincing and completely hilarious.

And such is Dubus’ mastery of the French accent that at one point Marcel performs a mocking impersonation of an Englishman; if you bear in mind this is actually an Englishman impersonating a Frenchman impersonating an Englishman, that’s no mean feat.

The show itself is a mixture of songs, poetry and stand up, all seemingly to serve one purpose: to point out to the rest of the world where we’re all going wrong, and to tell us what we can learn from the French.

What’s amazing however is that Marcel Lucont still comes off a very likeable, dare I say even loveable, character. Maybe it’s his confidence, and his “f**k that” attitude to life. Nothing can rattle him, not even jumping out of a plane; he’s just too damn sophisticated and French for that.

This is a very funny, very clever show. Marcel Lucont is no doubt destined for great things (as I’m sure he also firmly believes) so make sure you catch him while he is still honouring us with his presence in Australia.

 

Marcel Lucont – Gallic Symbol  is on for the full run of the Adelaide Fringe Festival at Tuxedo Cat.
http://www.adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/marcel-lucont-gallic-symbol/bf2a286e-8a63-4ecd-8e30-77f70046e730

5 Good Reasons to see 2 Ukuleles and a Cello, Kunt and the Gang and KelFi & FiKel

5 Good Reasons to See 2 Ukuleles and a Cello

1. You always wanted to know what heavy metal/electro/rap/other unlikely genre sounds like coming out of a ukulele and cello.

2. You really want to embarrass your mate/lover/archenemy by having a song sung about them by a group of complete strangers.

3. We’re dressing up in dinnerwear especially for you.

4. Two Ukuleles!

5. AND a Cello!

2 Ukes & a Cello are playing Caz Reitops Dirty Secrets for 12 shows from 3/4.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2013/season/shows/2-ukuleles-and-a-cello

 

5 Good Reasons to see my Festival Show by Kunt from Kunt and the Gang

1. The songs are funny. They will make you laugh. This is great if you are recently bereaved as it will take your mind off you missing your lost loved one for an hour.

2. The songs are catchy. They will make you go home humming something. This is great if you are an insomniac as it will give you something to do in the middle of the night instead of laying there hating your partner for their contented slumber.

3. The songs are popular. They will make you feel with it. This is great if you’re a bit of a fuddy duddy because you will be dragged up to date as you hear the genuine top 75 UK hits F*cksticks and Use My Arseh*le As A Cunt.

4. The songs are cultural. They will make you better informed. This is great if you are striving to better yourself as you will leave the show with such useful knowledge as in the UK most men wash their helmets before going on a night out.5. The songs are sexy. They will make you get aroused. This is great if you are a lady whose husband doesn’t pay her any attention anymore as you will remember how it feels to feel alive and probably get a moist on for the first time in ages.

Kunt & the Gang are playing Sahara Restaurant & Bar 27/3 – 14/4

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2013/season/shows/kunt-and-the-gang

 

5 Good Reasons to see KelFi & FiKel

1. They were listed in SMH’s Top Ten Rising Comedians in 2012

2. They are like Snugglepot & Cuddlepie on acid, and they sing too!

3. They will NEVER put a naked pregnancy photo on facebook

4. They are playing at the coolest venue in town, the Fab (verb) FAD (noun) Gallery in Chinatown

5. In their show, many important ideas are fhighlighted, including but not limited to:

a) A Dugong in a hat
b) A Llama with alpaca
c) Hitler on a Segway

KelFi & FiKel are playing the Fad Gallery 28/3 – 20/4

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2013/season/shows/kelfi-fikel

The Funny Tonne

By Lisa Clark, Erin Davidson and Caitlin Crowley

Every year the Melbourne International Comedy Festival sets a challenge as mighty as any Survivor or Amazing Race reality show. The Festival will provide a special Festival Passport that gets you into every show for free as you try to beat the record set, so far, by Kath Dolgehuy who saw 145 shows during the 2011 festival. You also have to write brief reviews of them as you go.

Each year about 40 to 60 people apply to join the Funny Tonne and Three are chosen to compete. The winner is announced during the Comedy Festival Awards, which will be on April 20th this year. So far it is mostly Victorians who have competed and there is no age limit.
If you’re interested in taking part in the Funny Tonne applications are available on the Melbourne International Website. (See link below)

The Festival describes the Benefits of being a Funny Tonner:
• Seeing as many shows as you can juggle
• The chance to ‘claim the crown’,
• A festival club pass,
• And of course, being a part of one of the BIGGEST comedy festivals in the world.

Squirrel Comedy has been lucky enough to have had Funny Tonners join us as reviewers. Erin Davidson and Caitlin Crowley have their own views on the benefits of being a Funny Tonner. The Funny Tonne obviously had a profound affect upon them both and we are thrilled that they were able to share their amazing experiences with us.

Erin Davidson – My Funny Tonne – 2006

I saw 123 shows over 25 days (the final Sunday didn’t count). There were only 2 other shows that I could have physically fitted in that festival. I know this because I painstakingly worked out the roster for fitting as many in as humanly possible within the rules.

The Funny Tonne is still one of the best things I have done in my life. It was three and a half weeks of poor nutrition, minimal sleep, but a seemingly unlimited supply of free comedy that made it all worth it!

I was working full-time but managed to take two weeks off during the festival for my own health and wellbeing. Well-balanced meals and sleep have to take a back seat to your desire to see as much comedy as you can. My fellow ‘tonners’ were Liz- a girl from Sydney so was staying in a hotel, whom I’ve stayed in touch with since, and Steven – a man who was retired. Both keen comedy goers and I have to admit, I rediscovered my competitive streak. I really wanted that netball trophy!

My first big tip for reaching that goal is that I was happy to see people I’d never heard of before and didn’t bother hanging out for the ‘big’ names or shows. I planned my roster purely on times and locations.

My tips on Planning Your Funny Tonne Comedy Festival Roster:

  • First step is to put in all the ones after 9:45pm and before 6pm. You should be able to see all of those.
  • All the shows over 1 hour go to the bottom of the list.
  • Next step is to pick venues that have 4 shows all in a row. I remember one night I stayed in the same room at the town hall. The only problem is you don’t always know which actual rooms the artists get  until the festival starts.
  • Be prepared to be flexible. Sometimes shows are cancelled, shows are added, shows are moved and shows run late. If you can’t get to see shows at the same venue, at least stay in the one area.

It’s all honesty based though.
The general unwritten rule was to attend at least 75% of the show. Sometimes you had to leave early to get to another if the one you were in started or was running late.

I got fit during the festival running around the streets of Melbourne and came to rely on the Hungry Jacks stunner deals.

I’m baffled by the fact that the one question everyone asks me about it is, “Didn’t you get sick of laughing?” Umm… NO, I signed up for this! While there were only a small handful of shows in amongst the 123 that I would have rather been sticking bamboo under my fingernails than sit through, overall it still remains one of the best experiences of my life.

The fun didn’t stop at the end of the competition. The next year I was reviewing for this fine website, since I’d caught the bug and I needed to find a way to be immersed in the festival culture again.

It also inspired me to produce my own festival show, Unspeakable [a variety show with a line-up of several comedians, such as Host Adam Hills, aimed at the deaf community] the following year. After seeing 123 shows, I learnt pretty quickly what makes a show work well, and perhaps even more importantly, what makes a show not work. I made connections with comedians, producers and MICF staff simply by hanging around and starting conversations with strangers. The festival is an amazing environment for being able to do that easily: “So what have you seen tonight?”

As an Auslan student (Australian Sign Language) I saw an opportunity for members of the Deaf community to participate in the festival and worked with MICF staff to develop the Deaf Access Program, launched in 2008, the same year my inaugural show Unspeakable sold out!

 

Caitlin Crowley – My Funny Tonne – 2007

Sam and I did the Funny Tonne as a team, we saw 115 shows (me 67, Sam the rest). The show I totally loved was Phil Nicol’s The Naked Racist. Unfortunately I saw it on the third day and I never quite hit that high again.
It was a total indulgence, we gorged on comedy and I learned quite a few things:

1. That it is possible to sit in a packed audience, with every single person laughing themselves sick and not feel remotely amused (Alzheimers – the musical)

2. That some people just laugh a lot – even if it’s not that funny

3. Some people will laugh at anything

Here is a review of my Funny Tonne experience, written at the time.
It is 10 pm on a Thursday night and I am watching grown men crush chocolate royals on their foreheads while making lewd jokes. If I wanted to see this I would have stayed home, opened the pantry and told the kids to go sick. Everyone around me is guffawing with glee but I sit there unmoved. This is the show I begged to see. This is the show many reviewers had on their “must see” list. This show is nominated for a Barry award? It’s good but not that good. I’m watching We are Klang, the 57th comedy show I have seen in a 23 day period and perhaps I am laughed out.

I was one of three people taking part in a Melbourne International Comedy Festival challenge, to see 100 shows in a 25 day period. Well to be honest I was half of a team. I have four kids, two jobs and a marriage to hold together so I was allowed to share this trip with someone in a similar situation. The other two parties involved, Dani and Nath, were both 23 year-olds with youth, time and energy on their sides. I picked my friend Sam, a lawyer taking time off to be a stay-at-home dad to his four kids.
Sam and I needed to divide up the program so we didn’t double up on shows. We acted like greedy kids with a tin of Quality Streets chocolates, fighting over our favourites (Damian Callinan, Greg Fleet and Anthony Morgan), snatching the hot picks (Mark Watson, Daniel Kitson, David O’Doherty) and dividing up the remainders as fairly as we can.

Caitlin: I’ll see D-Cuppetry if you see Puppetry of the Penis.
Sam: You can have Ed Byrne, I don’t like his hair.
Funny thing was, Ed Byrne was pretty good and he’d had a haircut.

One of our duties was to post a brief review of each show on the website. We took the reviewing seriously; these people had the guts to put on a show in a competitive field, the least we could do is give them our honest opinions. The first show I saw was Il Dago, I pumped out a 900 word review, reread it and realised no-one in their right mind would want to read it. I culled it to two paragraphs and we were off. Comfortable in the knowledge that no-one but family and friends would read our reviews tucked away in the back blocks of the MICF website – I let rip. Great shows got glowing praise, average shows got encouragement and bad shows got a roasting.
Over the three week period I became intimately acquainted with every MICF venue. I scurried from the Victoria Hotel to the Portland Hotel, from the Swiss Club to the CAE Scone Room. I ran from Trades Hall to Melbourne Town Hall so many times that the bouncers at Billboard waved as I passed. I became an expert at the 100 metre dash to the train station; I fought festival flu and fatigue to squeeze in up to six shows in a day.
I gorged on comedy and not just the live stuff. I religiously read reviews, downloaded podcasts, listened to comedians guest hosting radio shows and watched routines on YouTube. Other comedy junkies sought me out for tips on where to catch some decent gear. My friends and neighbours rang me for suggestions. My mate called me every day for a run-down. A comedy-loving dad who was housebound hit me up in the playground for a fix, “Seen anything good? Details? Names?” I fed their habits carefully, choosing the best and most suitable talent for their tastes.

Comedy fever was everywhere. People exiting gigs repeated the jokes as they queued for their next show. The boys collecting for the Fred Hollows Foundation on the street adopted a stand-up approach as they asked for donations. We started to notice our reviews were posted on the performers’ web pages. There were 278 shows in this year’s festival and not all of them can get reviewed by The Age. Performers started asking us to come to their shows in the hope they could pluck a phrase from our review to put in bold, red lettering on their show flyers.

This experience was not without awkward moments. I wrote a disappointed review of Dave Callan’s Flame Retardant Monkey and the next evening he sat next to me on the tram. I knew who he was of course, but he was thankfully unaware of my identity. Part of me wanted to tap him on the shoulder and ask him the meaning behind his complex show and the other part of me was too embarrassed. We rode the 15 minute trip in silence. After checking out Greg Fleet and Mick Moriarty’s Fleetwood Mick I wrote, among other things, “Mick Moriarty is not a comedian…” A couple of weeks later I read that he is the partner of Festival Director Susan Provan. Clearly this gig was not winning me many fans in head office.

I laughed harder and longer than I have in years. I enjoyed the crazy ride with Phil Nichol, I caught Josie Long’s optimism, I barracked for the always inspiring Rod Quantock, I laughed harder and cried discreetly at The Debutante Diaries, I was in awe of Ross Nobel’s twisted mind and I applauded Lawrence Leung’s breakdancing. In bed I wrote reviews in my head. How many stars will I give this show? Is there a softer way to say “avoid at all costs?”

On our final night we were invited to attend The Barry awards. The winner of The Funny Tonne was announced and surprisingly there was a dead-heat. Somehow Sam and I managed to finish equal first with our fellow competitor Nath. We hit the stage to collect our prize, some terrible joke books, that Sam and I generously allowed Nath to keep. As we left the stage Nath was heard to mutter, “Where am I supposed to put this crap?”

The votes are counted. The awards have been given. Dani, Sam, Nath and I pretend we’re glad it is over but it’s going to be hard for us to wean ourselves off this three-week long diet of enforced laughter. So maybe We Are Klang didn’t float my boat, that doesn’t mean they’re not good. The festival is officially finished but be gentle, some of us are going cold turkey

 

So do you think you’re up for all of that?

Info and application forms are available on the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Website 

5 Good Reasons to see Cinema Fiasco, Tegan Higginbotham Touched By Fev and Watson – Once Were Planets

5 GOOD REASONS TO COME TO CINEMA FIASCO
1. The movies shown at Cinema Fiasco are very bad but also very wonderful.

2. Everything you need to know about bad movies is explained by two experts in their field.

3. For once you’ll be glad there are people talking in the cinema.

4. You’ll be part of an occasion once lovingly described as “church for weirdos”.

5. Hosts Geoff Wallis and Janet A. McLeod are well-dressed and strangely attractive.

Bookings to see Geoff Wallis and Janet A. McLeod take the mickey out of some outrageously silly films http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2013/season/shows/at-cinema-nova-cinema-fiasco

 

5 Reasons to see Tegan Higginbotham Touched By Fev 

1 After a stellar 2012, Tegan will this year be attempting to end the war between Bogans and Nerds by creating Touched By Fev, a show about Harry Potter and Brendan Fevola. If you come to Touched By Fev, you won’t just be seeing a show…you’ll be witnessing history!

2 If Touched By Fev doesn’t go down well, Tegan will have no choice but to start doing shows about more accessible and mainstream subject mater along the lines of  “Tegan Higginbotham in Relationships and Public Transport”. Yuck!

3 Tegan goes to great lengths in order to put together her shows. Last year she took several hits to the head. This year she tracked down one of the AFL’s most notorious players…and had coffee with him. Find out which was more damaging.

4 Tegan doesn’t speak in the third person during her show, unlike when she’s writing “5 reasons to see my show” lists.

5 This show will be as mature & classy as it’s title.

Tigkets to hear Tegan’s childhood love for Fev AND Harry Potter – http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2013/season/shows/touched-by-fev-tegan-higginbotham

 

5 Good Reasons to see Watson – Once Were Planets
1 Once Were Planets is going to be Watson’s biggest, most ambitious show to date. Don’t miss this opportunity to see what happens when Tegan foolishly says to Adam “Sure, we’ll do whatever you want…”

2 This isn’t going to just be a another science-fiction nerd show. Once Were Planets is also a Science-Fiction Drama, Science-Fiction Comedy and Science-Fiction Science-Fiction. There’s something for everyone!

3 Not only will Liam Ryan be gracing the Watson stage again (YAY) but he’ll also be joined by award winning puppet company “The Indirect Object” who will attempt to bring Adam and Tegan’s odd imagination to life.

4 Once Were Planets has it’s very own soundtrack which will be performed live each night by the extraordinarily talented Gillian Lever. So if Adam and Tegan go too far off script and lose the audience, you can always just listen to the pretty music.

5 Aliens, space-ships, explosions and NO BURLESQUE whatsoever.

Another way to see Tegan Higginbotham with Adam McKenzie & friends as Watson having fun in space – http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2013/season/shows/once-were-planets-watson