Tien Tran : If You Don’t Know, Now You Know

By Colin Flaherty

Things have been moving rather quickly for Tien Tran. After competing in RAW in 2011 and being in the MICF Comedy Zone last year, he has taken the next step and put on his debut solo show. Have things been moving too fast for Tran? Possibly.

Tran covered the topics that most twenty-somethings talk about; Weed, laziness and porn amongst them. These were topics that he easily milked laughs from but at times it was almost like shooting fish in a barrel. He also included some interesting views on child-rearing, front lawns and religion that were surprising and hilarious.

In an effort to differentiate himself from all the white middle-class performers out there, he explored some serious topics such as immigration and racism with which he was able give a slightly different perspective by being an Australian born of Vietnamese descent. There were some unique and amusing ideas amongst these topics but he often provided straight opinion and fact instead of jokes, leaving us agreeing with him rather than laughing.

Most of his material was structured in a way where he would run with an idea to its logical conclusion. This worked some of the time, taking them to genuinely unexpected places, but often the punch lines could be predicted ahead of time. He also had the habit of continuing past the actual punchline, ending on a whimper rather than a bang. The result was a hour whose laughs were patchy.

On stage, Tran is personable with a slight hip hop edge (he did name his show after a Biggy Smalls lyric after all). He had the audience hanging on his every word even through the lulls.

This was an enjoyable hour in spite of his rookie mistakes. There are lots of fertile ideas in his set, some that already work but others which have plenty of potential with some retooling. Tran has a unique voice and is definitely a performer to keep an eye on.

If You Don’t Know, Now You Know is on at The Forum – Carpet Room until April 20
http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/if-you-don-t-know-now-you-know-tien-tran

Geraldine Quinn – MDMA: Modern Day Maiden Aunt

By Elyce Phillips

Geraldine Quinn is the black sheep of her family. While she is currently unemployed and unattached, pursuing her career in the arts, her siblings have all paired off and produced children. This makes Quinn the cool older aunty to 19 nieces and nephews. Nineteen. In MDMA: Modern Day Maiden Aunt, Quinn relates her struggle to be seen in a society where ‘older’ women are invisible, be there for this horde and perhaps most importantly, educate them about David Bowie.

Quinn’s voice is absolutely stunning. There’s not a dud among the songs she has composed for this show. The lyrics are sharp-witted, even when they’re spelling out curse words. The melodies are catchy enough to hang around in your head well after the show is done. There may not be many out there who have families as big as Quinn’s, but this doesn’t make her material any less relatable. A song about distant acquaintances banging on about their babies on Facebook could have been written about anyone’s feed, I’m sure.

As a production, MDMA hits all the right notes. Quinn’s costume, made by Sam Bolton, is perfect – its over-the-top theatre glamour contrasts so beautifully with Quinn’s drunken staggering and Ziggy Stardust-eqsue eye make-up. Justin Hamilton has done a fabulous job of directing. The lighting and sound do just what they need to to enhance Quinn’s performance, whether it’s stadium-style rock opera flashiness, or a deft touch that takes a song about invisibility to an entirely different level.

MDMA: Modern Day Maiden Aunt is an uproariously cynical portrayal of singledom and a loving ode to Quinn’s nieces and nephews – even if they’re too young to see it. Quinn is both powerful and vulnerable, scathing and sweet. If you’ve ever been asked when you’re going to get a proper job or settle down and have kids, you have to go see this.

MDMA: Modern Day Maiden Aunt is on at Melb Town Hall – Lunch Room until April 20
http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/mdma-modern-day-maiden-aunt-geraldine-quinn

Class Clowns 2014

By Noel Kelso

Everybody remembers the class clown in their year at school. The one person who was always messing about and making people laugh.

Now in its 19th year, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s own Class Clowns education programme takes those kids from the back of the class, gives them some workshops with professional comedians such as Kate McLennan, Danny McGinley (himself a former winner) and Aunty Donna, and places them front and centre on stage before a packed audience at the Capitol theatre in Melbourne.

The afternoon commences with our hosts Ronny Cheung and Luke McGregor – the unlikeliest double-act in comedy – arriving on stage and warming-up the audience with their very different performance styles. This got the audience laughing and opened them up for the young acts to follow.

Thirteen acts from all across Australia stepped on stage to entertain and delight those in the room. The audience laughed along to gags about school trips, teacher’s foibles, solutions to Melboune’s traffic problems and teenage surliness. It was two hours of joy from start to finish.

As the judges deliberated their decision the room was kept laughing by special guests Demi Lardner, RAW comedy winner 2013, and British sketch duo Max and Ivan. Their bizarre take on a botched bank robbery was effortlessly funny and their air guitar contest, which recruited an audience member to help out, was inspired lunacy which had the room roaring with laughter.

It was then time for the big moment and McGregor and Cheung led all of the young performers back onto the stage as they announced the winner and three runners-up as decided by the judging panel which included comedians Sara Pascoe, Dave Callan, Sammy J and Melbourne International Comedy Festival Director, Susan Provan.

The three runners-up were Mabita Makwaza from Sacred Heart College in South Australia whose material was both funny and socially aware; Jack Keenan from St Leonards College in Victoria whose routine was energetic and surprisingly mature for someone of fourteen, and Grace Bruxner from Darwin High School in Northern Territory, whose lampooning of the stereotypical surly Goth teen was sharply observed and laugh-out-loud funny.

The winner of the competition was 14 year old Gregor Tarrant from Wodonga Middle Years’ College in Victoria, whose elastic-limbed routine combined physical comedy and great gags to fine effect and had the audience rolling about with laughter.

Hopefully we will see more of these young comics in the future and they will continue their comedic endeavours further.

Heats will begin for 2015 later in the year.

Raw Comedy Winner

On Sunday 14th of April the RAW Grand final was filmed in Melbourne and hosted by Matt Okine. There were also special guest appearances by Celia Pacquola and the winner of the inaugural RAW Comedy India competition held late last year, Neeti Palta.

The winner of RAW comedy in 2013 was surreal performer Demi Lardner from Adelaide. She has won a trip to Edinburgh!

Runner up was Cameron Duggan from Brisbane

Third place was given to Victoria’s Andy Mathews.

Congratulations to everyone who took part.

ABC2 will be airing the RAW Grand Final on Thursday May 9.

Luke Heggie Mega Dry

By Caitlin Crowley

Heggie first came to notice in 2010 when he won the Raw Comedy Final with a tight set of one-liners delivered in an unemotional, deadpan style. Since then he’s gone on to develop full length shows and win more awards including Time Out’s best comedian award in 2012.

This year he’s drawn on his time spent as a bottle shop attendant for his comedy festival show Mega Dry. His tales are about alcoholics in denial, last hope losers and middle class dad jokers. His riff on bourbon drinkers, their leisure habits and their pronunciation, is a clear highlight. There’s no affection for his previous customers, nor anyone for that matter, but this isn’t cruel comedy either, Heggie serves up his observations from the perspective of one who has been worn down by an endless assault of the brainless. There’s a slight diversion into material about how mollycoddled kids are these days. It’s solid stuff but pretty well-worn territory these days.

Heggie has a laconic stage presence, an air of the knockabout Aussie bloke, but don’t be mistaken, his material is sharp, he has a neat turn of phrase and he knows how to craft good jokes. He finished the show with a song, which he admits is not particularly funny, but does demonstrate a not-too-shabby set of vocal chords. He would have been better served by using some musical accompaniment for his daggier jokes or making the lyrics tighter. Either way it’s a clever way to break up the rhythm of the show and shift the energy levels around.

There’s a sense that Heggie is a lot smarter than his stage personae, that if he wanted to he could challenge himself and push through to another level of deeper material. In the meantime he’s doing a fine job; he’s relaxed, easy to watch and writes some fine material.

Luke is performing at Tony Starr’s Kitten Club & the Melbourne Town Hall

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2013/season/shows/mega-dry-luke-heggie

Recipients of the 2013 Brian McCarthy Memorial Moosehead Awards

The Brian McCarthy Memorial Moosehead Awards were established in 1987 to promote outrageous and fabulous creativity in creating comedy festival shows for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

On the final Sunday of the Festival every year there is a showcase of festival artists called The Brian McCarthy Memorial Moosehead Awards Benefit that raises money for these awards. The Comedy Channel have also recently chipped in money to pay for a director for each recipient.

Past winners include last year’s live radio play Tie her to the Tracks starring Andrew McClelland, Asher Treleaven, Celia Pacquola, Sammy J and Adam McKenzie, Sammy J & Heath McIvor’s Forest of Dreams (2008) and Justin Hamilton’s Three Colours Hammo (2007)

The recipients of the 2013 Moosehead Awards were announced on Monday 12th of November at The Shelf. The winners are:

1. RAW winners and Best Newcomers at 2012 MICF Lessons with Luis (Luis and Family)

2. Kate Mclelland (The Debutante Diaries & Homeward Bound) and cabaret performer Wes Snelling’s show Standard Double

3. Joel Tito who was originally part of Vigilantelope and performed his solo show The Trial and Death of Socrates (No Relation) at the 2012 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

We congratulate the winners and look forward to seeing the shows at next years Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Information about The Brian McCarthy Memorial Moosehead Awards can be found on their website http://www.mooseheadawards.com.au/