Melbourne Fringe Festival Awards

By Lisa Clark

As usual we at Squirrel Comedy had fabulous time at the Melbourne Fringe Festival but all lovely things must come to an end and as usual the Festival has ended with an awards ceremony. Awards are not the be all and end all of course and everyone who put on a show should be congratulating themselves. Thanks for helping make our city an amazing place to live in.
Here’s a list of some of the award winners from Saturday night that might be of interest to comedy fans.

Best Comedy – Choose your Own Portenza – by Neal Portenza
Highly Commended Comedy – Slutmonster & Friends – by Lucas Heil, Wes Gardner and Jessie Ngaio

Best Cabaret – Just a Little Something I’ve Been Working On – by Ruth Wilkin

Best Kids Show – Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and his Singing Tiger by Dr Brown and Stuart Bowden

Best Circus – Pants Down Circus

Best Venue – Trades Hall

People’s Choice Award – Aunty Donna and the Fax Machine Shop by Broden Kelly, Adrian Dean, Zachary Duane and Mark Samuel Bonanno

Touring Award for Outstanding Comedy Show Supported by Brisbane Powerhouse – Truth – by Vachel Spirason and Stephanie Brotchie

The Tour Ready Award Supported by Adelaide Fringe – How to Draw Cartoobs and Other Typos by artist First Dog on the Moon

A full list of Melbourne Fringe Festival Award winners can be found on the Melbourne Fringe Festival website here

Pride Hard

By Lisa Clark

Robert Lloyd is a veteran of the festival circuit with shows such as Who, Me. and  A Study in Scarlet (A Study of…) . as well as his many shows with The Hounds crew and a chat/sketch show on Channel 31 called Live on Bowen. His comedy cred is pretty established and here, yet again proves that he knows how to entertain an audience. The second half of the show is performed by impressive newcomer Kelsey Gade. With his previous protégé Tegan Higginbotham of The Hounds out of the nest in her own successful festival show, Robert has found another talented young lady to work with.

Doing a violent action film in the style of the formal historical comedy Pride and Prejudice is the sort of wonderful silly idea usually thrown at performers in an impro show. Here Robert and Kelsey have taken the idea, run with it and developed it into a full blown romp of a show that plays around with other ideas but impressively never strays too far from its primary premise.

Some of the more fun ideas include the conceit that Kelsey is a last minute fill-in performer (who’s surprisingly good), using the Pride and Prejudice bimbos Kitty and Liddy to provide plot exposition, an appearance by a character from Harry Potter, a big fight scene performed in a Regency dance style and a big fun finale that I won’t give away.

I must stress that although this is very entertaining in a general way it is highly recommended that you have seen Die Hard first. A little knowledge of Pride and Prejudice would not go astray in enhancing your enjoyment either. As a Jane Austen fan who has never seen Die Hard I became a bit confused about the plot and characters and keenly felt the fact that I was missing out on a lot of the jokes the others in the audience were laughing at. Some were explained later, but it was too late for me. The Die Hard fans definitely had a whale of a time and ignorance of Pride and Prejudice wasn’t a huge problem for them. As a history buff I was also annoyed by the modern technology used by characters early on, but this was later rectified somewhat as the show morphed from a Die Hard spoof into more of a Pride and Prejudice hybrid.

This was a deceptively simple looking production with no costumes or props. The energy was obviously poured into the intelligent script, delightful mime and other performance skills, as well as the excellent sound and lighting. It did become a bit confusing with only two performers having to create so many characters, often with different names and styles for the same character, but as I pointed out that may have had something to with my ignorance of Die Hard, which is my own fault. Robert and Kelsey have created a pretty impressive achievement none the less and it’s certainly a lot of fun.

The last performance of Pride Hard is tonight (Oct 13)

For booking details see the Fringe Festival Website

Hang The DJ

By Colin Flaherty

Andrew McClelland (a comedian who DJs) and Ian Bell (a DJ who dabbles in comedy) have joined forces to give a comedic glimpse as to what happens behind the DJ decks. The show got off to a flying start with a high energy dance medley covering many genres (a impressive effort from two portly gentlemen) and went on to explore many facets of their experiences in the industry utilising stand up, banter, song and dance. A lucky punter was even transformed into a DJ complete with witty moniker!

The boys bounced off each other in spite of this being the first time they had worked together on the comedy stage. The banter between the two was jovial and amusing. Trading witty lines, they often surprised each other with some of their comments and actions and this enjoyment on stage was infectious. They mined their differences in musical tastes for some laughs but for the most part the pair were on the same page to impart their passion to the audience. There was the odd fluffed line and missed musical cue but this added a nice sense of anarchy and spontaneity.

Andrew was a charming performer as always; full of puppy dog excitement for the material. He presented wonderful stand up spots covering his details of his background that may explain some things to long time fans concerning his eccentricities, demeanour and outlook on life. Most interesting was his staunch determination not to lapse into potty mouth territory (despite Ian letting slip) by employing euphemisms that were cleverly inserted into a call-back.

Ian spent the majority of the show behind the decks (where he was most at ease) but he was no mere button pusher responding to Andrew’s jokes. There were many opportunities for him to take centre stage to present amusing monologues (such as thanking Dr Hook for his introduction to Djing). He ably assisted Andrew in the re-enactment of a number of amusing scenarios including the wonderful “Song Requester from Hell” segment where he did a hilariously foppish impression of Andrew while Mr McClelland played the other parts. Also impressive was the demonstration of his almost serviceable singing ability during a montage of celebrity snaps (complete with a hilarious James Brown moment).

This show was not wrapped up in the traditional sense, instead we were treated to an invitation to witness the guys (and the newly christened DJ apprentice) plying their DJ trade and dance the night away. Armed with a Boombox, Andrew led us pied Piper style down the hall to the Bella Union bar where the fun times continued for several more hours. This fusion of comedy, music and dancing was a brilliant way to end an evening.

The last performance of Hang The DJ is on tonight (Oct 13)
For booking details see the Fringe Festival Website

Girls Uninterrupted are Good Value

By Cathy Culliver

I find it very surprising that this year’s Fringe is only the second time that Girls Uninterrupted have performed in a show together. Granted, the girls have personally known each other for a long time, but on stage they seem like such a perfect match it’s hard to imagine them ever doing anything else. Made up of duo Louise Joy McCrae and Nicolette Minster, Girls Uninterrupted are a genuinely talented, clever and laugh-out-loud act.

Girls Uninterrupted are Good Value, is their new show, a delightful hodge-podge of skits, audience interaction and pre-filmed gags, all performed with the refreshing confidence of two women who clearly know their stuff.

Their lampooning of Australian reality TV shows makes for the some of the funniest moments in the show, especially their take on “Farmer Wants a Wife” and what could have been a mockery of any number of renovation shows. It might seem like obvious ground to cover for a skit, but these ladies carry it off with such hilarious silliness that I found myself genuinely wanting more. But there are also the live skits, which are just as good. My personal favourites were the beauty queens from the Deep South and the girls’ take on baffling finance terms, but to be honest there wasn’t much I didn’t like.

If sketch comedy on Australian TV wasn’t as dead as Bert Newton’s wig, Girls Uninterrupted would surely be a shoe-in for a show of their own. But as it is, you’ll just to have to settle for seeing them live, which I highly recommend you do. It seems criminal these girls don’t have bigger profiles on the Australian comedy scene, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

Girls Uninterrupted are Good Value is on at The Ballroom, Lithuanian Club until Saturday 13th October.

For more information, visit the Fringe guide:

NED: Ideas you’ll never have

By Colin Flaherty

In this one man character showcase, Dylan Cole presented a parody of the conference series and website NED which aims to “spread ideas” through 15 minute presentations from individuals, usually experts in their field, on a wide range of topics. The poster for the show even mimics the TED Homepage with a collection of bizzare topics accompanying the video links.

The first speaker to take the stage was Dr John Hatzenberger, a dishevelled Academic who got quite flustered while essentially not saying very much. He had an interesting way of de-constructing the NED Speech Format during his spot; an ideal aid for the audience to become acclimatised to the shows’ structure. His ability to pad the speech with highly detailed talk of his procrastination was a delight and his inclusion of random often irrelevant quotes to make a point was inspired lunacy.

Next on the stage was Joel Ham, apparently a Buddist Monk whose talk was sponsored by a very un-Buddist company. He posed unending rhetorical questions and talked in infinite circles about contentment and choice. A clever and amusing visual demonstration left no one in the audience any wiser as to his point. This character was a little one note, a Monk talking in riddles at varying volume levels, but was enjoyable nonetheless.

The last was Prof. Jeffery De Hollander, a very plastic personality who laughed in finite doses at his own obligatory jokes. His topic was Creating the Creation of Creativity and included clever visuals of famous artworks to relate to a hypothetical person to illustrate his points. Some wonderfully bizzare facts and figures were spouted to poke fun at his credibility. Although this segment started out strongly with many witty lines peppered throughout, it ended on a rather serious note which was an odd way to conclude a show.

All the characters were fleshed out well, costumed simply but effectively, given brilliantly absurd biographies and displayed appropriate extreme mannerisms. A running joke involving a sequence of images suggested the presence of recurring tropes in these types of speeches and pushed it to the extreme.

The decision to concentrate on motivational topics rather than the scientific gave him enough ammunition to attack such self righteous, agenda pushing types. I haven’t explored the TED website enough to determine whether such characters are in the majority in this arena, but they were fascinating personas and it was fun to witness them being taken down a peg or two. This was an interesting concept for a comedy show which delivered plenty of laughs.

NED: Ideas you’ll never have is playing at Trades Hall – The Annexe until October 13.
For booking details visit the Fringe Festival website

Dingo & Wolf in Medea

By Colin Flaherty

In an intriguing concept, Dingo And Wolf (Laura Dunemann and Eleanor Webster) have taken on the challenge of performing the Greek tragedy Medea to showcase their brand of train-wreck theatre. As with any Dingo & Wolf performance, the main thrust of the show is the comical conflict between the pair. Wolf attempts to present a lofty piece of theatre that is often too ambitious for her talents while Dingo misses cues, fluffs lines and generally becomes preoccupied with insignificant items in the room.

This duo bounced off one another well in these daggy personas. Their bickering was creative and they used some clever insults but having this as the main focus of the show was a bit of a stretch for an hour as it got slightly tiresome at times. It was nice to see a little twist when Dingo was given the opportunity to shine briefly in the spotlight, but she was soon put back into her place and then it was back to Wolf being a bully for every flimsy reason. A fair chunk of the show involved the girls rushing about the performance space utilising homemade props and costumes while taking their places on the stage which was exhausting to watch. When on stage, they primarily drew on their character’s hammy acting and numerous mistakes to make themselves the butt of the joke, rather than the text itself.

With Medea as a framework they were given the opportunity to have some fun with the text and boy did they have fun! Characters were renamed to give them a modern feel, historical facts were wildly misquoted and plot points and locations were misconstrued. Some scenes were completely replaced by inappropriate dance numbers (including Wolf’s soulful ballad that was a great reworking of the plot in song) and there was the inclusion of wildly inventive scenarios that added to the classic story in their own wacky way (Jason’s Bah Mitzvah scene was wonderfully silly). There was even a ridiculously short and relatively extravagant interval included in the madness. The impressive thing was that despite all the detours they stuck with their brief and did give us a fairly entertaining & extremely silly version of Medea.

A video monitor added to the audio/visual component of the show by displaying title cards, showing chunks of text for the audience to read (thus the audience cleverly became the Chorus of the play), and popping up misinterpreted images in lieu of backdrops. This would have been more successful if it had been placed on a higher pedestal for all the audience to see.

Aside from the Wolf-centric programme thrust into the audience’s hands at the start and Wolf’s constant boasting, there is little in the way of background for the duo as they launch into their epic. Not that there is really anything important that you need to know about the relationship between this pair of infantile characters to enjoy the show, but their assumption that we all knew their history is bold.  Whether you’re new to this talented duo or have been following their career, you will have fun in the company of this odd couple.

Dingo & Wolf in Medea is showing at The Portland Hotel – Locker Room until October 14
For bookings see the Fringe Festival website