Sam Simmons and Dr Brown – Ceremony

By Elyce Phillips Ceremony

Two men named David get very weird in this late-night offering from Sam Simmons and Dr Brown (Phil Burgers). It’s a show that feels impossibly packed full of nonsense, like a Mary Poppins bag crammed with silly. There’s violence and nudity, shouting and destruction, but there is also love and some truly novel uses for food. Ceremony is messy, anarchic and quite possibly the most fun you can have at the festival.

The show breaks down common rituals and exposes our odd behaviours within them by taking a variety of ceremonies to the extreme, from the euphoric highs of an awards night to the emotional lows of a funeral. These events become absurd in the hands of Simmons and Burgers. It is complete mayhem. Audience members are hauled from their seats and manhandled into participation. Even when you think you’re safe, Dr Brown could appear out of nowhere and empty an entire box of cereal over your head. I had so many Coco Pops lodged in my clothing that I left a Hansel and Gretel-esque trail through the city on the way home. Every moment of Ceremony is surprising and hilarious. The audience got so into the final moments that Sam and Dr Brown eventually had to yell at us all to leave the venue.

Simmons and Burgers are two of the most inventive comedians working today and seeing them play together is incredible. Ceremony takes the most out-there aspects of both performers’ repertoires and pushes them even further. There are moments where you feel genuine fear and concern that someone is going to sustain an injury or choke on too much bread. I spent equal amounts of time laughing and clutching at my partner’s arm in awe. There are scenes in this show that will be forever etched into my memory. It’s this dangerous territory that makes Ceremony so incredibly funny. As the show progresses, you rapidly realise that there is no physical limit to what these men are willing to do, and it makes for a live comedy experience that is like no other.

Ceremony is an amazing piece of comedy from two ridiculously talented people. It’s on for one more night, so catch it if you can.

Sam Simmons and Dr Brown – Ceremony is on at Melbourne town Hall until April 5
http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/ceremony-dr-brown-sam-simmons

Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and his Singing Tiger… Again!

By Elyce Phillips Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and his Singing Tiger

Dr Brown (Phil Burgers) and his Singing Tiger (Stuart Bowden) are going on an adventure! They are, however, woefully unprepared and are going to need all the help they can get to prepare for their journey. Luckily, they have a whole audience of eager kids and their somewhat-less-eager adults to give them a hand. The adventure may not go exactly as planned, but it’s a whole lot of fun, incredibly silly and contains just enough danger to make things interesting.

The show is an hour of unmitigated chaos. After a quiet beginning, it didn’t take long for the kids to get comfortable with the idea that they had permission to be a bit naughty. They threw themselves wholeheartedly into the participation segments, sometimes taking things a bit too far and needing to be collected from the stage by their adults or swept back in the direction of their seats by some wonderful and patient Arts Centre staff. If there is one image that will be burned into my brain from this show, it will be Burgers and Bowden looking just a little scared as they were surrounded by a swarm of rogue children. It filled my heart with joy.

Burgers and Bowden are a perfect team. Dr Brown gets the kids riled up without saying a word. His cheeky acts of mayhem and general cluelessness are incredibly endearing. Bowden’s Singing Tiger gently keeps things on track with his adorable songs and calm reminders that maybe we shouldn’t copy everything Dr Brown does as he is a terrible, terrible role model. Beneath all the pandemonium, this show has a lot of heart, and there are some beautiful lessons about the wonders of adventure and learning – very cleverly elicited from the kids themselves. Of course, as they did on the day I attended, the kids can also deliver some less beautiful truths, like telling Burgers and Bowden to their faces that they are annoying “just because”.

Dr Brown and his Singing Tiger is an anarchic delight for the little ones, and as an adult who’s not quite ready to be a grown-up yet, I loved it too. Take your kids, borrow someone’s kids, or pretend to be a kid and have some fun.

Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and his Singer Tiger is on at the Fairfax Studio at the Arts Centre until April 5

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/and-his-singing-tiger-again-dr-brown-brown-brown-brown-brown

Squirrel Comedy’s Recommended and Previously Reviewed Shows at Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2015

By Lisa Clark

Well the Squirrels are getting ruffled up and ready for autumn nut collecting. And comedy reviewing. There are soooo many shows on offer at the 2015 Melbourne International comedy Festival and it can be very difficult for us to see everything we want to see, let alone review everything we want to review. For those readers who are planning their Festival schedules and are in need of help, we have some good news: Squirrel Comedy has previously reviewed thirty of this year’s shows and we have laid out links to all those reviews below.

 

First Up here are some brilliant shows I previously saw & loved but Squirrel Comedy hasn’t reviewed.

I recommend you see:Claire Hooper School Camp

Claire Hooper’s School Camp

Claire takes us back to school days in a raw & truthful way where nostalgia takes some surprising and dark turns that make this show very special.

 

Celia Pacquola – Let Me Know How It All Works Out.

Celia’s show about fortune telling and her international lifestyle was another of Celia’s crowd-pleasing corkers.
Celia Pac Let me Know

Barry Nominated last year as word got around it was selling out like hotcakes, so if you weren’t lucky enough to see this gorgeous show better book now.

 

Denise Scott – Mother Bare

Denise deservedly won the Barry Award last year for her droll and often riotous reflections on motherhood and other aspects of her comedic life.Denise Scott Mother Bare pic

She’s only doing four shows this year at the fan friendly time of 4.30 Sundays, so get your tickets early.

 

 

And now for shows that we have previously reviewed.

Particular highlights this year that I can also recommend include:

Are You Afraid of the Dark by Watson Watson Afraid of the Dark

Watson’s funny and occasionally genuinely scary show is not for those with a nervous disposition or heart condition but my goodness it is a monstrous load of fun. It can only fit smallish audiences into the space at the Old Melbourne Gaol so book early, I hear the first week is booking out fast. Not surprising as this show won Best Comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and considering it is site specific it is one you will have to come to Melbourne to see.

 

Bart Freebairn Ultra Power LordBart Freebairn pic

Bart is a comedian at the top of his game just waiting to be discovered by the mainstream. I get the joyful shivers when I see a stand up comedian reach a point where they can host a room and own it keeping everyone rolling with laughter non stop. Bart is there and I hope everyone loves Ultra Power Lord as much as I did at Fringe last year.

 

Bucket’s List by Sarah Collins starring Justin Kennedybuckets list

Buckets List is a whimsical, beautiful and of course very funny tale with a star turn by the amazing Justin Kennedy (who we just don’t see enough of on the circuit any more – I miss him, but if this is the sort of work he’s producing then I’ll forgive his absence). Justin is blessed with the ability to make an audience laugh without saying a word and when I see independent theatre this good I think our major theatre companies should have a good hard look at themselves.

 

Damian Callinan – The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy CallinanPaddy Callinan

A perfect show for this anniversary of ANZAC it’s another comedy character tour de force by Damian where truth and tall tales blur with loads of laughs and a streak of darkness. The true spirit of the ANZAC is thoroughly celebrated.

 

We can’t wait to discover new exciting comedy at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival  but meanwhile

Here’s the full list with links of those we reviewed earlier:

The 13–Storey Treehouse

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6692

Anthony Jeannot is Unaccept-a-bubble

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7985

Bart Freebairn: Ultra Power Lord

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7643

Clem Bastow – Escape From LA

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7956

Damian Callinan – The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy Callinan

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6010

Dr Brown – Befrdfgth

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=1244

Dylan Cole – The Moon in Me

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7760

Fancy Boy Variety Show

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6647

Faulty Towers – The Dining Experience

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=1633

Geraldine Hickey – Listen Out For The Castanets

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7669

I Love Green Guide Letters Live

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5892

Justin Kennedy – Bucket’s List

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7723

Late Night Letters and Numbers

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3846

Lee Naimo – Finding Lee

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7970

Lisa-Skye’s Lovely Tea Party

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5880

The Little Dum Dum Club Live

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5938

Luke McGregor – I Worry That I Worry Too Much

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6045

Mark Butler – Grammar don’t matter on a first date

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7885

Political Asylum – Late Night Riot

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3785

Sam Rankin – Wake Up, Sheeple! (2.0)

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7639

The Sexy Detectives – Mono Logs

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7952

The Sound of Nazis

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7712

The Umbilical Brothers – KiDSHoW – Not Suitable for Children

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6870

Stuart Daulman is an Absolute Credit

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7706

Stew Walker – A Hard Day’s Night of Beatles Parodies

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7920

Gary Portenza: Apologies in Advance

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7915

Set List

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6695

Watson – Who’s Afraid of the Dark

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7786

World Record Show with Andy Matthews, Adam Knox and Dave Warneke

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5973

Zoe Coombs Marr – Dave

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6963

 

Melbourne Fringe Festival 2012

By Lisa Clark

The days are getting longer and warmer and its time to come out of winter hibernation and spring into Melbourne Fringe Festival. The comedy section is the biggest category in the programme, but its important not to ignore the comedy related shows in the other categories such as Lisa-Skye’s talk show Art, Sex and Snacks. in the Special Events section, Geraldine Quinn’s The Piano Has Been Drinking in the Cabaret section, Die Roten Punkte’s Battle Royal in the Circus section and Diana Nguyen (from the fabulous Phi & Me) in 5 Ways to Disappoint Your Vietnamese Mother in the performance section and there are plenty of others to discover.

It’s always exciting to get a chance of catching up with Melbourne International Comedy Festival shows you might have missed, esp if they were sold out. This year you can catch up with the Barry Award winning Dr Brown: Befrdfgth, Damian Callinan’s The Merger, RAW and Golden Gibbo winners Lessons with Luis – Luis Presents: Kidney Kingdom, Neil Sinclair in Panic, Best Newcomer at MICF Tegan Higginbotham in Million Dollar Tegan and Truth by Slow Clap.

There are also brand new shows from established comedians and unknowns entering the fray, doing comedy in all sorts of styles and genres with the odd intriguing entry like musician Pinky Beecroft doing a stand up show called Mainstream Freak.

Although the festival has already begun there are a lot of comedy shows beginning this week. Most have only short runs, though, so get in quick.

Information about all things Melbourne Fringe can be found at their website http://www.melbournefringe.com.au

Dr Brown wins Fosters Comedy Award

After winning the Barry at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Dr Brown (Phil Burgers) has once again taken top prize. He has taken out the award for his show “Befrdfgth”, outshining James Acaster,
Josie Long, Tony Law & Claudia O’Doherty.

The Best Newcomer went to Daniel Simonsen,
the Spirit of the Fringe was given to the Boy With Tape On His Face (Sam Wills)

Squirrel Comedy Writers list our Top Five Favourite Shows at the 2012 Melbourne International Comedy Festival

It’s impossible to get out to see every show at the festival. Especially for the Squirrel writers, as most of us have full time jobs in the real world. In the past when we were The Groggy Squirrel we gave an award for our favourite Australian show but it was always difficult for all of us to see the shows on our shortlist.
This year we’ve decided that each reviewer can list their Five Favourite  Shows of the Festival instead. It’s still a really difficult thing to do and some of us have seen more shows than others. We may even see a show that changes our list in the next few days, but this is what we have so far.

Hopefully these insights might help you plan your final few days of the festival.

LISA CLARK
1 Justin Hamilton – The Goodbye Guy
What a way to go. A stunning show about tying up his career, putting his effects in order and stepping out into the future. So Long & Thanks for all the Funny, Hammo.
2. Sam Simmons- About the weather
This was definitely better than last year’s award winning show. It had everything he’s famous for, plus a delicate structure and sweet romance.
3. Daniel Kitson – Where Once There Was Wonder
He makes shows for audiences who like to use their brains though he makes us do it at nearly midnight. A show about self growth and doing & thinking things you never thought would be possible. The reason I’ve not ranked it higher, is that, as much as I adore being in His presence, I felt it could have been edited down a little. (OMG did I criticise Daniel’s gorgeous work? EEK)
4.Felicity Ward – The Hedgehog Dilema
She just seems to get better and better every time I see her and she’s only been doing this for a few years. Seeing her break down on stage talking about her mum this year was achingly lovely. More importantly she’s the kind of comedian that can really make me nearly fall off my chair laughing and that’s happening every time I see her lately.
5.Hannah Gadsby – Hannah Wants a Wife
Hannah used one of my favourite paintings The Portrait of the Arnolfini (& other great art) as the basis for her show about gender throughout history. Great to see her tying her passions together to create an inspiring show. Her stage presence gets more relaxed and playful and better for it.

Runners up: Lessons with Luis, Plus One, Sarah Kendall & Tie her to the Tracks

Shows that I loved that were not Festival shows as such: The Shelf, Somebody To Love – The annual musical benefit for the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre at Trades (this year it was the music of Queen) and Puppet Slam at St Ali

CATHY CULLIVER
1. Dr Brown – Befrdfgth
Unlike anything I’ve ever seen before but so, so funny. The man’s a genius.
2. Simon Amstell – Numb
He’s so clever, so hilarious. I would marry him in a heartbeat if only he liked women. I must find out how he feels about sham marriage …
3. Paul Foot – Still Life
Absurd, silly humour but a very fun show.
4. Slow Clap – Truth
A great production from some very talented Melbournians. Totally original.
5.Hannah Gadsby – Hannah Wants a Wife
A funny but also very interesting show. Hannah is really likeable and has that natural comic timing that makes it all look so easy.

JAYDEN EDWARDS
1. Tom Ballard – Doing Stuff
Tom is the future of comedy in this country, and tearing the present to shreds.
2. Dave Thornton – The Some of All the Parts
Stand-up just doesn’t get much better that this. Just straight, witty, accessible stand-up.
3. Sam Simmons- About the weather
Sam just keeps getting better and better. One of the best experiences of the festival, year after year.
4. Tommy Dassalo- Pipsqueak
The little buddy that could! Tommy is quick, witty and so damn likable! Comedy with big soul.
5. Triple J’s Good Az Friday
Quickly becoming a major highlight of the festival! And great value… FREE!

COLIN FLAHERTY
1. Lessons with Luis – Kidney Kingdom
Three daggy, naive characters executed perfectly. It’s a shame that the run was so short.
2. Daniel Kitson – Where Once There Was Wonder
His first stand up show in years was a masterclass in how to hold an audience captiv(at)e(d) for about 2 hours.
3. Justin Hamilton – The Goodbye Guy
A brilliant wrap up for all those who have followed Hammo’s Festival oeuvre.
4. Ronny Chieng – The Ron Way
Ronny keeps you laughing all the while he talks down to you. Some serious comedy chops from this guy.
5. The Underlads – Living On Limbo Lane
A high energy show of extreme silliness. Seriously crude, clever and fun.

ELYCE PHILLIPS
1. Daniel Kitson – Where Once Was Wonder
Kitson’s stand-up is incredibly thought provoking, and then cleverly undercuts every thought it provokes.
2. Asher Treleaven – Troubadour
Treleaven’s shows just get better every year. I think the main improvement this year was the inclusion of sexy diabolo. All shows could use sexy diabolo.
3. Mike McLeish and Fiona Harris – Plus One
Hilarious, poignant, and the closing musical number was my favourite thing this festival.
4. Sarah Kendall – Persona
Always intelligent, occasionally cringe-inducing, with a bedtime story at the end that is morally ‘grey’ at best.
5. Victoria Healy – Independent Women Part 2
Wonderfully nostalgic, uproariously funny and full of bogan charm.

ANNETTE SLATTERY
1. David O’Doherty presents Rory Sheridan’s Tales of the Antarctica
This adorable and hilarious show contains my favourite phrase of the festival: “cat and kitten care” (say it out loud…in an Irish accent)
2. Justin Hamilton – The Goodbye Guy
Wrapping up a decade of shows – it’s a hell of a way to say goodbye!
3. Celia Pacquola – Delayed
Hard to believe – but she just keeps getting better each year.
4. Josh Earl is XXX
Awesome tunes and rocking stand up, looking forward to seeing him at XL.
5. Nick Coyle – Me Pregnant
This peculiar and touching story isn’t getting nearly the kind of attention it deserves this festival.

Also recommended: Danny McGinlay Learns Ukrainian; Michael Chamberlin – Joy & Despair; Simon Amstell – Numb; Dr Toby Halligan is Not a Dr