The 32nd Melbourne International Comedy Festival has been officially
Launched for 2018. Hosted by comedy legends Lano & Woodley, their reunion this year, after 12 years apart, in their new show Fly is one of the big thrills causing quite a buzz in a gigantic, exciting programme. There are more than 620 shows in this years festival. Some of the shows are encore performances and others that we Squirrels managed to catch and review at other festivals.
Feel free to click on the links below and read what we thought of these earlier iterations, keeping in mind that festival shows are ever evolving beasts that change and develop over time, so the new version may be quite different to one we saw.
See a favourite off the telly, See someone you’ve never heard of. Most of all have a wonderful time and keep an eye on Squirrel Comedy as the new reviews roll in and we keep you up to date on what’s happening via our Social Media.
Upon entry, we were welcomed on board the space ship Yonder by the crew. Bound for an unspecified planet to escape a dying Earth, we were in the “capable” hands of Captain Davie (Elizabeth Davie), First Officer Doruk (Ezel Doruk) and Engineer Lim (Shannan Lim). From the first cabin announcement, we knew that we were in for a crazy voyage – that being a space drama of romance, action, treachery and ravenous space squids.
Serious themes such as environmental catastrophe and immigration got glancing mentions in the voice over and plot but the main attraction was the absurd hijinks of the crew, their fight against a common foe and each other. At times it felt as if they were heading into deliberate parody of certain recognisable Sci-Fi scenes but this mash up of many tropes kept us on our toes. They even crammed in some clever jokes about the airline industry and gender roles.
A deliberately lo-fi production, there were plenty of ingenious solutions to portray this tale with as much detail as possible. Adding extra characters to this three hander involved dashing between positions and concealing costumes which added to the insanity. The cast bounced off each other seamlessly and gave knowing glances to the audience when props and gestures were particularly silly. The crowd were more than happy to suspend their disbelief and played their part as passengers when required.
This trio showed off their considerable clowning skills with budget action sequences that rivalled those of early Star Trek and Doctor Who. Tossing themselves about the stage and miming their way through scenes, this was played as broadly as possibly for maximum laughs. The pace wasn’t as swift as you would expect for such an action packed story. Strange distractions and mundane interactions between the crew were taking place while more pressing plot points were at hand. Fortunately these were hilarious by being totally off the wall or served to contrast the ridiculousness of the situations with the matter of fact crew responses.
The Yonder was a wonderfully silly space romp that was immense fun.
The Yonder is on at Lithuanian Club – The Loft until September 30
At first glance in the Fringe Guide this show might look like another business seminar spoof but that is only a small part of a stunning, beautifully structured show about the inequalities of wealth between women and men from the general experience, gradually working its way deep down to the very personal.
It is always a joy to discover a new talented comic performer, but Elizabeth Davie is something else, she has definite star power. Smart, brilliant at both physical comedy and stand up, good character work and not a bad puppeteer. She has created a beautifully arrogant spokesperson for the Super Woman Money Program – which is a real actual thing. I received the email with lame saving tips from my Superannuation fund and when I got to the tip ‘Avoid Divorce’, I thought WTF is this crap?? So did Elizabeth obviously and turned it into a smashing Festival show. I found it not only hilarious fun but quite brave of Elizabeth to name her show after the thing she is lampooning.
Elizabeth’s Super Woman Money Program is beautifully formed from four major interwoven strands that have come from her real life experience. There is her spokeswoman representing the programs for women run by Superannuation companies, her personal stand up comedy about the insecure life of a struggling artist with a HUGE education debt (many in the audience could relate to this!), the adorable and simple puppetry that was the voice of her email inbox and finally a story. Another huge inspiration for this show was Jane Gilmore’s The Cost of Womanhood and Elizabeth makes a rather brave decision to stop the momentum of the hilarious show to read the entire story. There are no laughs here, the audience is silenced as it goes on the journey with Elizabeth.
Another brave decision is to open and close the show by singing (badly) along with Shirley Bassey. We finally discover a shortfall in Elizabeth’s broad talent. But somehow, here the lack of singing ability is not a big problem, it works because it is more like primal screaming; opening the show as an ironic cry of help from a poor player on the stage from a high status character (Hey Big Spender) and the closing song (This is My Life) as a howl of defiance and pride from herself on behalf of us all.
Sadly this fantastically joyful feminist comedy show had a very short run at Melbourne Fringe, particularly as so much work has obviously gone into it. This was everything a great Fringe show should be, a brilliant performer with bags of potential, a show that is wildly entertaining and hilariously funny using different forms of performance, with political nuance that lives with the audience long after the show has ended.
Super Woman Money Program was on at Lithuanian Club – Son of Loft
1. Are you worried about your super? If you’re not, you should be! Welcome to the Super Woman Money Program.
2. Please note, Super Woman Money Program features financial advice from someone not at all qualified to give it.
3. I have a sock puppet that reads my hate mail.
4. I went to Kmart when I was really hungry and spent a heap of money on gold props, please come and buy tickets to my show.
5. I have a gender pay gap discount – women get a 15.3% discount on full price tickets with the code “IAMASUPERWOMAN” and I’m also donating $1 from every ticket sold to the Victorian Women’s Trust’s Breakthrough initiative, addressing women’s economic security and safety.
Super Woman Money Program is on at Lithuanian Club – Son of Loft from September 15 to 22
The creepiest thing about this show was how Natalie Harris shared my distaste for avocado, brunch loving hipsters and the fact that Elizabeth Davie and I seemed to belong the exact same family in the delightfully not so Creepy Creeps.
From the very beginning Harris and Davie made you feel like you were in good hands. With a great inflight/show safety demonstration (nothing makes you feel more comfortable and safe than authority in a fitted blazer and a neck scarf) to kick off the comedy version of a parallelogram. Beginning and ending the show with sketches as a team. They allowed each other to show off their own unique comedy style by breaking the show into two separate stand-up sets.
Both brought their own individual style. Harris with her observations on today’s hipster youth, struggles with eviction and great use of pie chart. Harris owned her allocated time on stage. Then Davie with her brave honesty in depicting the people in her life and the role she believes they have played in causing many of her psychological issues. Ending her set with a remarkable audience assisted re-enactment of a Karaoke work function, where even though under great duress, she was able to let those demons out. It was this moment that would have to be up there with one of the highlights of the show.
It was clear they were seasoned pros, both having done their own Melbourne International Comedy Festival shows. Their jokes so carefully written that the occasional slight fumble of words, they were sure to backtrack and make sure that the punch line got its glorious warm day in the sun. There were no awkward pauses or uncomfortable ‘….Line!’ moments that most ‘Amateurs’ (as they deemed themselves as) may encounter.
Ending the performance on a slightly edgier note, they each became the stereotypical fashion and healthy lifestyle blogger that you encounter these days. There was also some great use of wigs and a lot of tongue in cheek, that made for a memorable finale.
The bells and whistles of the wigs and pie chart aside, what the audience appreciated the most was the celebration of supportive friends, and the back to basics stand up. Real, honest, relatable and just plain funny.
Creeps by Natalie Harris and Elizabeth Davie is on at The Provincial Hotel until Sept 28