Commedia Del Parte

By Colin Flaherty

Behind a nondescript door in George Lane lies the George Lane Bar. It’s located at the rear of the same building that houses the Melbourne Wine Rooms and the George Public Bar so it feels like a hidden-away rogue brother of the aforementioned drinking establishments. For the past fifteen months Commedia Dell Parte has been holding court here every Thursday night.

With its red lighting and asian themed décor, the room resembles an opium den or classy brothel (not that I would know what such places actually look like! It’s just an assumption.). This atmosphere is apt seeing as the bar lies a stones throw from the notorious Grey St in St Kilda.

Luxurious seating in the form of velvet couches and armchairs are laid out in rows before the stage to seat about 30. Additional seating is available on stools at the bar located near the back of the room as well as plenty of standing room in this spacious venue.

Even though not a lot is on display, this bar stocks a wide range of bottled beers and spirits. They are especially well known for their cocktails.

The night of comedy consists of a line up with about eight acts; a manageable number but it threatens to conclude past eleven when the performers disregard their allocated time. The talent begins with some new faces leading up to familiar names in the later and headlining spots.

Commedia Dell Parte works on the “pay as you feel” honesty system, trusting that punters will pay a reasonable amount for the night’s entertainment. Room organiser Marcus Newman farewells the patrons with his cash box, welcoming Gold coin donations as well as much appreciated notes.

The show starts at 8:30 so get on down there, grab a drink and support the local comedy scene.

 

 

 

 

The Little Dum Dum Club – Tommy Dassalo & Karl Chandler

By Jayden Edwards.

The Little Dum Dum Club has risen above a sea of local podcasts to become one of the most downloaded shows out there. It’s nothing fancy, just two blokes having a yarn, plus a special guest. It’s the shows simplicity and gosh darn likeable and self deprecating hosts Tommy Dassalo and Karl Chandler that keeps the listeners and guests coming.

With big success over in the U.S with the Will Ferrell backed “Earwolf Challenge” and the boys about to embark on a run of shows recorded live from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the show just keeps going from strength to strength. Karl was kind enough to let me pick his brains to find out a bit more about the show.

How did this beautiful partnership begin, how did you guys meet?
We met whilst working on Channel 31’s Studio A. We didn’t really know each other through standup, and it didn’t take long until Tommy fell for my irresistible charm, Hollywood looks and pleasant odor.

So, the podcast, how did the whole Sha-bang start?
Well, we seemed to enjoy mucking around backstage at Studio A more than actually doing the on-air stuff. We’d make each other laugh a lot before and after gigs, and thought that it was sometimes a lot funnier than what was happening on stage. And we thought a podcast would finally legitimise all the time wasted, hanging out and acting as stupidly as we possibly could.

So what’s the routine? How do you guys prepare every week? Straight into it?
We have a guest every week, so we’ll think about what we want to talk about with them, whether it’s questions about what they’re up to, or subject matter about our own lives that we think they’ll be able to riff on. We do feel the radio host grind a little.. we’re constantly looking around during the week for things to do that we can talk about on the podcast. Real life chews up a lot of content. I find myself praying that my girlfriend does something stupid.

Has your show changed/Evolved away from your original vision of it?
I don’t think the initial idea of the show has changed much. We always wanted a guest in every week, and to simply be as funny as we possibly can. I didn’t forsee us talking as much about our personal life as we have, and getting so many listeners, to be honest. It is that weird thing where you meet people who listen and they know everything about you. That’s when I remember that I’m not just in a little room, talking to a mate. I’m spewing the minutae of my stupid little life onto the internet for thousands of people to listen to instead of doing something productive.

You’ve managed to grab some pretty high profile guests, like Weird Al Yankoic and Marc Maron, how do you go about getting them.
Sometimes we know people, sometimes we know people who know people. Marc Maron was very kind to come and talk to us, and given that’s really how he’s made his name, maybe he felt like he should come and help out another podcast. Or maybe it was because we told him we were Hamish and Andy.

Last year you guys came 2nd in a reality podcast competition ran by U.S digital comedy site “Earwolf” . That must of been exciting?
It was! Tommy organised our entry to start with, and we really didn’t know what was going on.. but it quickly exposed us to thousands more American listeners, and ended up with us in Los Angeles and New York, performing on bills with Azis Ansari and Sarah Silverman.

So you’ve been going for a bit over a year now, who have been some of your favourite guests?
We loved having Shaun Micallef on the show, given than we love him and we were just really keen to try to get a laugh out of him. And we loved having American comedian Paul F. Tompkins on twice. He’s just a lovely, giving man and extremely funny. I think his episodes might be our best ones.

How about shockers? Any guests that just haven’t been into it?
Not really. Everyone who’s done the show has done us a big favour, and even if someone isn’t that into it, we feel it’s our job to cover for that, and be extra funny to make up for it. Having said that, Bob Hope will never be on the show again.

Do you have a dream guest?
We’ve been trying to get Tony Martin since we started, but we think someone must have told him that Mick Molloy is a Dum Dum Club cast member. Either that, or he has a life.

The live shows! Every Monday night during the festival, what have you got in store?
We have three special guests every show, and we’re currently booking big name, surprise guests now. We’re definitely having famous people that we’ve never had on before, and we’re working on some surprises that aren’t usually part of the normal podcast. We really love performing to a live audience, and we’re looking forward to meeting people that come to the show, even if it’s only out the front after the show, giving refunds.

Click here to grab the show from Itunes
Or Non itunes: http://dumdumclub.libsyn.com/
Grab tickets for Little Dum Dum Club: Live Podcast with Karl Chandler and Tommy Dassalo, every Monday night of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival here: http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/little-dum-dum-club-live-podcast-with-karl-chandler-and-tommy-dassalo/

Who him?

By Annette Slattery.

In the lead up to the Adelaide and Melbourne runs of Robert Lloyd’s new show “Who Me?”, he sits down with Annette Slattery and talks about fear, obsession, inspiration, Sherlock Holmes and, of course, Doctor Who and those bloody David Tennant comparisons!

Others have described him as a David Tennant look alike and many expected him to do a show about Doctor Who before now. So in asking Robert Lloyd where the idea for the show “Who Me?” came from, you could be forgiven for expecting an obvious answer.

“Who me?” came about as an accident.

Ok, not so obvious then.

To understand the course of this happy accident we have to go back several years to a chance meeting during the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Having a drunken night out on birthday celebrations Lloyd bumped into Sarah Bennetto. Bennetto invited Lloyd to appear in her festival show Storyteller’s Club and, with very little stand up experience, Lloyd accepted. Unsure about how to approach the task he turned to a long time obsession for inspiration.

I came out and acted out “Scandal in Bohemia” which is one of my favourite Sherlock Holmes stories…it was a little bit funny doing little asides about it, so the comedy crowd were a bit confused about what was going on , I was very nervous and it was very exciting.

It was director and collaborator Scott Gooding who saw the idea’s potential that night.

Lloyd and Gooding first encountered each other at ‘Doctor Who Nights’, nights which involved a bunch of self confessed Doctor Who geeks getting together and spending time together watching Doctor Who. After Lloyd spent a week ‘Doctor Who flirting’ with fellow comedian Ben McKenzie in Adelaide he was given the official invitation to the revered sanctum.

Scott and I, originally (he’s gonna hate me for telling you this) but originally it was a very prickly relationship. He was the only one there who was always very bitchy and short with me and always cut me down…I found out he was jealous cos he was Ben’s first wife. But then I showed up on the scene and then I was the mistress, I was the other woman, When I arrived Ben and I shared pizzas together, drinks together. So Scott was very jealous of this. So once I snapped back at him and then he went ‘ok’ and then we became friends.

When I wanted to do my first show I always wanted to work with Scott just because I trust him and he pushes me and challenges me and we’ve got a great working relationship. We’ve been working out of each other’s pockets for the last two years and we’ve never had an argument or a disagreement. I trust him implicitly with where he wants to take my show; he lets me make a fool of myself in rehearsals and go a bit too far. We complement each other really well.

So together Lloyd and Gooding developed and launched “A Study in Scarlet” at Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2010.

A Study in Scarlet came about because I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes ever since I was in high school. He’s been one of my longest obsessions.

I just wanted to tell the whole story in an hour. ‘Cos that’s where I come from, I come from an acting background. And I wanted to work on characterisations and me performing as many characters on stage by myself. But Scott was the one who encouraged me to talk about my experiences

That show was a mixture of me acting out the first story and also telling stories of my obsession with Sherlock Holmes. When the show finished we got a lot of great press and a lot of people wanted to hear about my stories and I’ve never been interested in that because I see stand-ups and some of my favourite comedians and they’ve got fascinating stories, interesting stories and I never thought my stories were that interesting or that anyone would be interested in hearing. So when we started working on the Doctor Who stuff I never thought there was enough for an hour show

There was a line in the opening of [“A Study in Scarlet”] when I said “before driving, before sex, before comedy, even before Dr Who, in my life there was always Holmes”. So after we finished that show pretty much the first thing everyone came up to me and said was “so are you gonna do Doctor Who next?”

I never intended to do a Dr Who show. There’s been ideas in my head and I’ve been working on a radio play about Dr Who but that’s a serious Dr Who audio play.

I’ve been coming up with ideas and I’ve been developing routines to deal with the constant regular questions I get ever since Tennant took over.

Lloyd has been continually compared with Scottish actor David Tennant, particularly after Tennant took over the high profile role of the tenth Doctor. It was kind of cool at the start, Lloyd says about the comparison. The first time I saw an image of Tennant…was a headshot that they used, and just from the angle it looked like [he was] a lot more round faced. But then I saw Casanova and I went “that’s a bit weird’ and then I saw Blackpool, which was amazing, and I went “that’s a bit weird’.

Then Tennant took over the Doctor for the first time. At the start it was pretty cool, says Lloyd. We were promoting “Hound of the Baskervilles” which was The Hound’ss first show and we were handing out flyers…and people were coming up “Oh my god you’re the new Dr Who, I’ll come see the show just cos you look like “Doctor Who”.

Awesome! Cool! Yeah I don’t care, I’ll haul myself out for that, it’s not a problem, and I was excited ok. A guy who kinda looks like me getting the doctor.

But it’s got to the point now that Tennant’s moved on and I’m still getting people saying it, It’s just a weird beast that I’ve had to deal with, it’s such a small bubble of a community…Doctor Who’s been such a big part of my life and the Tennant stuff has only been a small part of it.

My favourite people in the world come up to me and go ‘you look nothing like him’…and that’s why I married my wife…one of many reasons…she doesn’t like the way that David Tennant looks…she goes “you’re far more attractive than David Tennant, he looks like a weasel”. And I just go “I like this girl, I like her a lot”.

Both “A Study in Scarlet” and “Who Me” emerged from Lloyd’s obsessive nature, which he can trace back to childhood.

My favourite…source of inspiration was my aunt who lived with my dad’s parents, my grandparents on my dad’s side. They lived in Sydney, so every time we went to Sydney it was always a treat, we always went to the movies there…and we got to go see live shows as well, I got to see my first professional play, but what my aunt had (she was a theatre lover as well) she had a big book of who’s who of actors and so it had actors from A-Z. It was released in the eighties so it only went up to a certain point, but any actor I wanted to look up I’d turn to their page and they’d have a big chunk of all of their movies and a big autobiography about them and so that’s where I could find out about actors I adore now like John Hurt, Roddy McDowell, Alec Guinness, all these obscure actors, that was it you had to go look through books or magazines, or talk to people.

It’s that whole Indiana Jones thing, it’s the whole romantic view of you as an obsessive nerd going out and hunting it down and finding this rare thing and going to a second hand bookshop or going to a library and finding a rare autobiography or biography, of the people, and you can still do that to an extent now, cos we get a very limited release of DVD’s and books out here so it’s good to still go find extremely rare DVD’s that aren’t even released here anymore or were released for a couple of weeks

Or rare books…I’ve found so much stuff about little obsessions of mine…like rare video or DVD copies of Sherlock Holmes interpretations that I can’t get here, I’ve got online really cheaply, books on my favourite silent movie actors I’ve been able to get online that I can’t get here or they’re too expensive here, so the element is there but it’s not as hands on. It is a little bit cheap just clicking a button here and there and you get it in a couple of weeks…I much prefer the good old days of making phone calls…going down and picking up the big VHS copy tapes, and the massive books…

If I’m stuck on one thing I stay with it…explore it as much as I can; read everything I have and go ok good, it shifts from one thing to another, especially now in the era of the DVD box set.

From 2006 – 2010 Lloyd worked in comedy trio “The Hound’s” with Adam McKenzie and Teagan Higganbotham. I asked him if he was going to work with them again.

I not sure…I’m really excited by the fact that Adam and Teagues are doing stuff. (Higganbotham and McKenzie are still working together, under the name “Watson”.)

Anything’s possible, adds Lloyd, it’s just I’m at the point now where I was so stuck in a way of performing for ten years, working with groups and I’m really enjoying the fact that I’m 33 and I’m doing shows that I have no idea what’s gonna happen. I’m really taking risks. For most of this year, for eight months I’ve been absolutely terrified about Who Me. Going to rehearsals has been exciting it’ s been exhilarating and Scott’s been great but just been sick with fear not knowing. What’s gonna work. Is it gonna be funny? Is it gonna be interesting? Are people gonna be enjoying it?…Is it gonna be a good tribute to this obsession of mine? Is it self-indulgent? Is it too self indulgent? Is it not self indulgent enough? Is it interesting? Is it too cut up? All these paranoias and fears we get as performers. I haven’t really been used to it cos I’ve been doing improvisation for most of my life, I get up on a stage and I know what to do and there’s no fear there. When I went to Uni …I discovered improvisation and that’s when I was hooked and I decided that’s what I want to do with the rest of my life…out of all my subjects at my Uni [improvisation] was the one that I got my highest mark for where other students just passed by… so I was fully aware that I was a freak who actually enjoyed getting up on stage with nothing whereas everyone else preferred their scripts and their rehearsals and their character development…Standing up on a stage with script that I’ve written and worked on and developed, that’s more risky for me.

Improvisation is something that Lloyd has become well known for, since his earliest days in Melbourne.

I’d been doing stuff with Impro Melbourne for a little bit…I was in my twenties and I’d just moved to Melbourne and I was young and I was impatient and I wanted everything to happen now, says Lloyd, admitting that his headstrong attitude led to a clash between himself and other performers. By the end of my time there I was kind of blacklisted

After helping out at the Comic’s Lounge Impro night he was offered the chance to run that.

We invited like comedians just to come down and we’d hang out for two hours and we’d do workshops and improvisations and we’d do a show for two hours and it just grew. ,

Lawrence Leung came down; Andy McClelland was one of our regulars; Charlie Pickering. So these high calibre performers, it was their chance to come down on a Sunday afternoon and just jam and just experiment and explore things they normally wouldn’t get to do with their stand up.

After building up an ensemble which included the likes of Adam Vincent, Madeline West and Cameron Knight “The Crew” became “legitimate” in 2003.

I look upon that time very fondly, it was one of the favourite times of my life…I ran my own company the way I wanted to with performers I wanted to be involved…The friendships and the skill and the performers and the atmosphere and the attitude and the company nature we had was always a highlight for me.

I asked him if Comedy is Art.

I think so, very much so, and some of the greatest comedians who I worship with a passion are pure artists.

He lists some of his greatest heroes as:

Comedy wise, old school, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, I love Harold Lloyd…Jack Benny I adore…Jacques Tati, he’s like the comedians comedian with his physical comedy in a sound era…One of my favourite comedians recently is Dave Gorman. Dave Gorman is a huge influence on me over the last couple of years…I like him when he talks openly about his obsession and his storytelling skills are just phenomenal.

A less public aspect to Lloyd’s life has been his teaching career. Teaching high school drama in Dandenong, this profession has run concurrent with his time with The Crew, through working with the Hounds and into his solo career. And it’s a role which Lloyd treats with the respect it deserves.

One of my key points when I got into teaching was to be the type of drama teacher I wanted to have when I was in High school, says Lloyd, referring to the parade of part time Drama teachers he was subjected to in his high school.

One rule I always set myself was that when I’m at school it’s their time. A lot of Drama teachers and people I’ve seen like to get up and say well this is how I do it…School is for them and my stage is my time…And then Summer Heights High came out so I made a point of never getting a comparison with Mr G.

I’m getting back into directing school productions… some of my proudest moments were to sit back in the audience and watch these students perform serious, legitimate, adult plays, not your high school plays which I detest.

I asked Lloyd what was on the horizon for him.

2013 is the big year because that’s the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who so we’d love to take it on tour and take it overseas, there’s a lot of life in this show.

And what about that third piece in the trilogy he hints at at the end of “Who Me”.

Can’t tell you but I’m glad you asked, It’s gonna be awesome though, it’s gonna be pretty fun.

Robert Lloyd will be performing “Who Me” as part of the Adelaide Fringe at Jahz from the 6th – 17th March. See www.adelaidefringe.com.au for details.

He will also be performing “Who Me” as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival at St Ali Cafe from the 10th – 21st April. See www.comedyfestival.com.au for details.

Feature Story- Welcome to Squirrel Comedy!

Squirrel Comedy is an independent website based out of Melbourne providing comprehensive news, reviews and comedy gig listings. With a focus on Australian stand up, we’re committed to keeping our readers informed with all that’s happening in our thriving live comedy scene. Squirrel comedy is also your source for anything and everything funny, including news, reviews and interviews with comedians and people in the know.
To keep up with whats happening in the local comedy scene you can check out our gig guide, local podcast guide or list of comedian’s blogs.
We will be publishing photos from gigs you’ve seen during the week, if you have any you would like to share send them to us by email at squirrels@squirrelcomedy.com

We plan to write about all the rooms in Melbourne and hope to interview the producers of those rooms. If you have a room we don’t know about, get in touch at editor@squirrelcomedy.com. We begin with a room close to our hearts, Local Laughs in St Kilda and an interview with Janet A McLeod.

We’re also looking forward to keeping you up to date with all the news from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. But remember comedy is not just for Festivals, fabulous live comedy is happening in rooms around Australia every night of the week.

Putting this site together has been a big learning curve for us, and we’re still learning. I’d especially like to thank Jayden for designing the logos and a lot of the work getting it up, to Colin for his all his work on the site, especially the gig guide and to Annette for her original vision and inspiration.

Lisa Clark, Editor.

You can interact with us on Facebook and Twitter.

MICF 2012 Shows on sale now

Tickets are now on sale for shows in this years Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

The Comedy Festival Gala is being hosted by Sammy J & Randy and has already sold out, but there are still tickets available for some of the festivals biggest events including the Opening Night Comedy Allstars Supershow, RAW Comedy National Grand Final, The 23rd Annual Great Debate Upfront and more!

Highlights in 2012 include American comedy legend Wanda Sykes, the return of UK based comedians Dave Gorman, Shappy Khorsandi, Glenn Wool Tim Key and Aussie born Sarah Kendall. Simon Munnery’s two shows, including his conceptual restaurant ‘La Concepta’ which we tasted a sample of during his show last year and, as always, a new one from Daniel Kitson. Four of Australia’s best comedians are getting together to perform a live silent film; Andy Mclelland, Asher Trelevan, Celia Pacquola and Sammy J in Tie her to the Tracks. Interesting pairings include Bob Franklin and Steven Gates (of Tripod) in Stubborn Monkey Disorder and the husband and wife team of Mike McLeish & Fiona Harris in …..Plus One. There is also Rod Quantock’s Mystery Comedy Tour which is garanteed fun if you don’t mind walking and don’t forget to try something new. You might discover the next big name! Of course there are many, many more shows happening, so get to it.

To get in early and secure your seats, check out the full list of shows on sale here. New shows are being added as they go on sale.

Janet A McLeod – Producer of Local Laughs

By Lisa Clark

I first got to know Janet A McLeod as co hostess of The Cheese shop, a public radio show about comedy and its live standup counterpart at The Prince Patrick Hotel. Since then she has gone on to host many rooms and encourage many fledgeling comedians into the limelight. I cornered her before a gig with a few questions about her legendary room Local Laughs.

1. When did you start running venues by yourself
The Planet [at The Prince Patrick Hotel] started in 1999, but prior to that I was always putting on things like Quiz International.
I was one of the instigators of Upfront, I actually came up with the name. Lots of ideas were put forward and that was the one that nobody had anything against.

More recently Janet ran comedy rooms at The Laundry in Fitzroy for a while as well as in Bendigo.

2. What is your policy re newbies
I check out as many Newbies as I can. I either see them personally and think oh I like you I want to support you! Or I might take advice from people I trust. The way I check if it’s genuine is by saying to them ‘OK, if your reputation stood on this, would you still recommend them?’ If they suddenly backtrack I say ‘OK fair enough we won’t worry about it then, you see, my reputation does stand on it.’

As well as Running Local Laughs Janet judges at Melbourne Fringe Festival and at RAW.

I’ve probably seen in excess of 10,000 comedy performances easily, which is quite extraordinary really, so I think My judgement of comedy horseflesh is pretty refined.

3. Any advice for wannabe comedians
Be Nice. When you are approaching people who run rooms be considerate of the fact that you’re not the only person in the world wanting gigs.

Be inventive, if everybody is talking about the one thing, don’t talk about it, find something else to say.

Find a different way to express yourself, find your own voice on stage.

If you really love comedy, you don’t always have to be a comedian. That might not be your calling and sometimes trying to fit a square peg into a round hole isn’t a great thing to do. You can do other things, production, front of house, writing.

4. Your Favorite Performances here, anything that stands out?
The Flashmobbing last year organised by Dingo & Wolf who were joined in there dance routine by Dave Callinan, then me, who was inveigled on stage and to the surprise of everyone I knew the dance routine as well then just when it seemed to be over we dragged Anyone from Tennis on stage and they knew the Routine as well. Appropriately it was to ‘Strawberry Kisses’ which I’d selected. That was really good fun because it was pranking the audience.

Another great time was when Adam Hills was doing an extended set and discovered something I’ve known for ages, that people on the trams stopping out the front can here the performers up on stage. He was able to get a couple to get off the tram and come on stage and in great StKilda style they were hilarious. That was a top moment. The Bedroom Philosopher running out into the street partially naked pretending he was crazy frog. Duff vs Tram, he ended his set by disappearing onto the tram.

5. Any Tips for others wanting to start their own Room?
Start your room on time. If you wait hoping that extra people turn up, the people who are there will get pissed off and the people who turn up late think ‘oh it looks like it starts late, so next time we’ll come at quarter to instead of half past’. So the start time will get later & later.

Book people because you like them, not because you think the audience might like them. If you think they are funny, put them on, if you don’t, you don’t have to. If they are a mate and you don’t think they are funny, invite them to your party, don’t put them on. Don’t make it a ‘mate’s room’ which can also be a bit of a sausage fest, go out and beat a drum together instead.

It doesn’t have to be free to get people in, even as a student I could afford $5 to see comedy which is more like 10 or 20 dollars now. Make the audience value it and make the comedians feel valued. And if you’re running a room, you’ve gotta feel valued as well. You’re not allowed to be a martyr and pay everyone else and miss out yourself, because you will stop running your room. It’s important that everybody gets something out of it.