Adam McKenzie – Laser Light

By Lisa Clark  

Adam McKenzie has been one third of the phenomenal sketch team Watson for many years now and it’s been too long since he has done a solo festival show. Because it’s an Adam McKenzie show, you know it’s going to be somewhat nerdy and Laser Light has a lot of Star Trek references. If you don’t have any knowledge of Star Trek, that’s OK because most people have some connection with its main theme of lasers….sorry….cancer.

I first saw Adam do standup about his bowel cancer, not long after it all happened, at Local Laughs StKilda. He was so raw, because the experience was so raw and close. The room was electric and Adam had everyone laughing and crying. I’m not surprised he’s stepped back a little from doing that sort of Festival Show. It would be pretty harrowing seven nights a week during a festival. Unsurprisingly, Adam has decided to go down a slightly more theatrical path with a parallel Trekker plot of being attacked by The Borg. They make a brilliant metaphor. These cyborgs were the Star Trek enemies who terrified the willies out of me when I 1st saw them on late night TV. Next Gen was usually heartwarming pre sleep entertainment, but not that night.

In the standup segments, Adam cheerfully takes us through many of his cancer experiences with few punches pulled. Everyone has a different cancer journey, he doesn’t pretend to have the ultimate experience. There are funny stories that come out of it all and scary ones as well.  Perhaps scariest for Adam is that he discovered that he HAD to change his inadequate diet. So, perhaps as an aid to his new lifestyle, or for the entertainment of us all, he has committed to trying out a new food that he has never tasted before, every night on stage, during the show. He has a choice of three things and the audience has to pick one for him, tonight was cherry tomatoes, kiwi fruit and unpeeled cucumber. All I could think from the sour look on his face as he ate the tomatoes, is that if you are going to try tomatoes for the 1st time, please, get them from a friend’s garden when they are warm from the sun and divinely sweet. And someone peel the cucumber, at least. It helps if you discover food at its best. Being a comedian, though, Adam is no doubt, going for the laughs over his tastebuds.

Adam doesn’t want this to be his ‘Cancer Show’, but let’s face it, it is, and why not? Most people are touched by cancer at some point in their life and because it’s always been such a taboo subject, it can feel pretty isolating. At the time, and afterwards, you tend to be drawn to those things that help you deal with what is a pretty harrowing experience. A cheery, daggy, nerdy comedy show from an experienced talented comedian might be just the trick.

Also there are lasers.

Adam McKenzie is performing Laser Light at The Coopers Malthouse

Andrew McClelland – A Seated Walking Tour of Western Europe

By Colin Flaherty

Comedy shows exploring travel tend to be comedic lectures that provide amusing facts and figures about the destinations with variable accuracy. Andrew McClelland’s A Seated Walking Tour of Western Europe goes beyond this by presenting a narrative of intrigue, adventure and many wacky shenanigans. From the opening song and dance number you know you are in for a great time.

In a “get to know the tour group” activity, McClelland assigns the audience identities, either as part of social groups or individuals. These characters pop up during the course of the tour with some getting more things to do than others. The amusing misadventures of these travellers are often described in retrospect (as in “the footy club certainly got drunk last night”) and he gently pressures us as a group into making decisions about what what we should do next. This leaves a little bit of wiggle room for McClelland to react and riff on our responses but this is essentially a linear story. There’s one segment of audience participation where someone joins Andrew on stage, but all that’s required of everyone else is to laugh and cheer when their characters are mentioned from the safety of their seats.

Our tour is narrated in brilliant detail by McClelland with the odd sequence of images from Google Earth to help set the scene. There is some clever wordplay in describing our surrounds as well as the lame puns you would expect from most guides. He is peppy and comically upbeat no matter how pear-shaped things are going, be it from encounters with a rival tour group or unexpected route detours due to our highly unreliable mode of transport. Andrew weaves a terrific yarn, keeping us invested in the story with his infectious enthusiasm.

Although you probably won’t learn many useful things about the places we visit, this is a rolicking fun hour. With such a packed itinerary that criss-crosses Europe, it’s a good thing we are merely armchair travellers. This high paced show would be too exhausting otherwise!

A Seated Walking Tour of Western Europe is on at The Coopers Malthouse -The Tower until April 22

5 Good Reasons to See Marcel Lucont’s Whine List

1. Future generations will gather round to ask which night of Marcel Lucont’s Whine List you attended during it’s all-too-brief two-week run, and what occurred. While those who were too late to buy tickets will weave false stories, you must be one of the ones spreading the truth and sharing these tales of comedic majesty.

2. Current generations will call you a dick if you do not.

3. Si vous lisez ceci, vous êtes déjà plus qualifié pour voir ce spectacle que la plupart de vos compatriotes, qui ne pouvaient pas faire la différence entre une baguette et un bateau.

4. When has a journalist ever lied to you?
“A must-see” – Herald Sun. “An absolute must-see” -The West Australian. “An essential Fringe show” – The Skinny, Edinburgh Fringe. “One of the highlights of this Fringe” – EdFringe Review. “Very clever” – Squirrel Comedy.

5. Society probably does not have much longer left, enjoy this peak of human culture while you can. Then begin work on your bunker. Again.

Marcel Lucont’s Whine List is on at The Cooper’s Malthouse – Beckett Theatre until April 22

Sophia Stanley – 101 Texts Not to Send to Jarrod

By Hooi Khaw

Sophia Stanley makes a stellar debut at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with 101 Texts Not to Send to Jarrod. Stanley’s natural comedic instincts have the audience onside immediately, making the audience willing to indulge in the weird fun that Stanley brings to the stage.

Stanley is a natural performer, making it hard to believe that this is her first show; she paces the stage with comfort, and her delivery is conversational and engaging.

Her show is a mix of witty observations, real life stories (many about her hilariously ridiculous relationship with Jarrod), and absurd extrapolations of these. She paces her show well with sketches, and intermittent crowd work.

It seemed that a number of her friends were in the audience this night, and she made several comments directed at them, which did not land as favourably with the wider audience. Without knowing the specific individual, it’s easy for the audience to feel left out of these jokes. This is easily forgiven though, as she had the crowd in stitches for most of the show.

With a style distinctively her own that is as clever as it is surprising, she keeps you on your toes with the punch lines, and guarantees a good laugh.

101 Texts Not To Send To Jarrod is on at Loop Project Space & Bar.

5 Good Reasons to See Ethan Andrews – The Youngest I Am Ever Going To Be

1) Festivals are for seeing up and comers, not just TV stars. The feeling of discovering a new act is a joy you just don’t get watching the big names. Also, in 2013 someone vomited on Ethan during Arj Barker. This will not happen in this show.

2)This pre-show playlist is great. To get you hyped, check out this playlist of tracks that inspired The Youngest I Am Every Going To Be.

3) Ethan is the only comedian in this year’s festival who can boast having grown up in the town with the highest ratio of men to women in Australia.

Reason number four? More like reason 4.5. That’s how many stars the show got from Tulpa Magazine. “If you see one comedy show this season, I strongly recommend this be it.”

Reason number five? More like reason 5:30. At the happy-hour friendly time of 5:30pm and with shows running at Tasma Terrace all night long, The Youngest I Am Ever Going To Be is the perfect first course in a comedy banquet.

The Youngest I Am Ever Going To Be is on at Tasma Terrace until April 22

Andy Zaltzman – Right Questions, Wrong Answers

By Will Erskine 

Andy Zaltzman is a master of observational comedy driven by politics, current events and of course his favourite topic – cricket. A multi-layered performance, referencing the obscure, engaging with the audience and presenting sharp political humour in an absurd and sometimes bizarre way. Right Question, Wrong Answer starts with a mock quiz to introduce the premise of the world delivering the wrong answer when asked an important question, it ends in a conversation with a friendly robot. In between and interweaved with the technical props and set pieces are observations, one liners and word play that ensure the show operates spectacularly on all levels.

Andy’s approach to comedy is so intricately researched and designed that it isn’t possible for any audience member to understand every reference and that’s exactly as designed. The show is wonderfully intelligent while remaining accessible to anyone, even if they only have the most glancing interest in world events. Right Question, Wrong Answer is a show with a global reach, with topics ranging from Brexit, Australian immigration and naturally Donald Trump, it explores the idea of nationhood and what it means to be British. This show will naturally appeal to those who like their comedy satirical and topical, but there is enough depth for it to be enjoyable to all.

Andy is clearly adding material all the time based on what’s happening in the world. He said a couple of times that a bit was new that night and it is a joy to see him enjoy the audience reaction for the first time. The only struggle for Andy with this show is the allotted time, there is far more material than there is time and at this point in the run he’s still determining what should be in the 1-hour slot and what should be left for the director’s cut. This show will evolve over its run which makes it a rare show that may justify multiple viewings to witness the evolution.

It was a pleasure to see a master of his craft at work, and while tonight’s performance was not quite the finished article it provided a rare glimpse into workings behind the scenes. Seeing it at this stage humanizes the show and allows a deeper connection between the audience and the performer, while Andy acknowledged that the first few nights the audience was “more of a focus group”, it was without doubt the most entertaining focus group I’ve been involved with.

Andy Zaltzman – Right Questions, Wrong Answers is on at the Town Hall until April 22nd see website for details