Felicity comes on stage like a firestorm and keeps up the pace and intensity of her show for the entire hour. The enthralled audience was right there with the engaging and vivacious Aussie.
The packed (large) venue loved every minute of the show, in which we heard about Appisodes, her new BBC Radio show (which aired just after her show last night) which deals with mental health issues. This comes up in Busting a Nut but not as much as previous shows.
Felicity has been married since her last appearance at Edinburgh and she has a lot to unpack about the joys associated with getting married, living with the in-laws, in what I can only describe as a survival bunker, finding the right wedding dress, choosing appropriate music for the occasion and having a nice honeymoon (in a windy locale). We learn about her mum’s trip to Italy and that Felicity is an impressively, hilarious, physical comedian.
Busting a Nut is a dizzying theme park ride of a show, which will leave you breathless at the end from all the laughing. There was a hint in the show that Felicity may be going back to Australia at some point (something about visas, the UK Home Office and Brexit), so if you live in the UK you don’t want to miss the opportunity of seeing her live and local.
The show is selling out, so if there are any seats left before she finishes her Edinburgh run, buy them.
Felicity Ward performs Busting a Nut at The Pleasance Courtyard until August 26th
It’s not long now until the world’s largest fringe arts festival begins in warmer climes and again a massive contingent of Australians and expats are headed to The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Many have traveled the Australian festival circuit and have been whipped into shape for international audiences. Some have been previously reviewed by Squirrel but remember they will have been further polished and may have been revised and reworked.
Last year Australian, Hannah Gadsby won Best Comedy at the Fringe, she’s had to cancel her Edinburgh Fringe run this year but there’s a lot more amazing comedy talent coming up from down under. If you are travelling anywhere near Edinburgh this August, have a look at the following list of shows and consider going to see an Australian act.
Fabulous Australian hyperactive comedian Felicity Ward is back with brand new show about her quirky self. She’s been spending a lot of the past couple of years living in the UK, working hard at her craft in London clubs and it shows.
This year, Felicity is talking about anxiety, living in London and the joys and dangers of swimming pools. She shares the wonders of underwater headphones and the pitfalls of having a Japanese exchange student coming to stay. For fellow expats like yours truly, Felicity gives the audience tips on how to act like a Londoner (never make eye contact), the etiquette of using public transport in the capital, the problems with long distance relationships and problems with training distant family members to utilise modern technology to maintain contact. I enjoyed her deep and thorough analysis of Reality TV Makeover shows and then, the most popular topic with the audience, why do women’s clothes not have pockets – even worse, why do they have bits which appear to be pockets but are really just sewn on bits pretending to be pockets?
In the past Felicity has spoken of her issues with anxiety and though it pops up here and there, for example when she explains how she lost a bag without giving in to panic, and what happened when she let it all go, it is not the main topic of the show which is more about bringing the laughs that she has no trouble inducing. The audience was in fits.
It was a packed house and Felicity gave us an hour of hilarity, constantly moving about the stage like a lion and hardly pausing for breath between jokes. One of the top feel good shows of the Fringe.
Felicity Ward – 50% More Likely to Die is on at Pleasance Courtyard until August 29
In a short time (only a couple of years) Set List is becoming an exciting must see for comedy fans and a must do for Stand up artists. Created by Americans Troy Conrad and host Paul Provenza (famous for the Aristocrats film and TV show The Green Room with Paul Provenza), it’s a sort of Theatresports for stand up performers and has become a fixture at both the Edinburgh Fringe and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Last year it was on very late at night, this year it’s been brought forward a little, so it doesn’t clash with Festival Club and it’s easier to get to for those who’d prefer an early night.
A set list is more commonly known as a list of songs performed by a band, for a comedian it’s a list of words or phrases referring to practiced comedy routines that they plan to do for their set, something never usually seen by an audience (unless you glimpse the backs of their hands). At Set List the list is generated for them by the Set List Team and a random phrase pops up on a big screen where the comedians see it for the first time and has to make up a routine around it on the spot.
Like Theatresports or the circus watching it can be as thrilling and terrifying for the audience as it is for the performer. Audiences are encouraged to take part by adding ideas on small slips of paper to the suggestion box which the comedian can reach for during their routine if stuck for an idea. Paul also encourages the audience to join in by not being a Dick. In other words, we’re there to support the comedians and enjoy the fun, rather than heckle and jeer and make it more difficult for them. It encourages a great vibe and a good time can be had by all.
It’s pretty unfair almost pointless to review the performers themselves as there are going to be vast differences depending on the comedian’s experience at improvisation, experience at Set List and the topics they are given. For example a comedian had to cope with a word they clearly didn’t know the meaning of. Generally though, all the performers coped really well and the laughs were pretty much non-stop even if they were occasionally for the wrong reason. Some started strongly on an adrenaline high then gradually lost momentum, possibly from thinking too hard and others started slowly and warmed into it. The latter included Set List virgin Matt Okine who enjoyed explaining why Ski-ing = Racism and veritable veteran Wil Anderson who was gifted the topic Gay Time of the month and could barely be restrained from cracking out line after line about homosexuality and ice-creams.
To give you a taste of the ride we enjoyed that night, we were treated to Felicity Ward with her Heroin vs Crack Insights, Simon Munnery who effortlessly explained the ‘3 Types of Serial Killers I support’, a nervous Celia Pacquola tackled ‘Genocide Sensitivity’ in a surprising and clever way, and Ronny Chieng, as cool and smooth as ever, tried to get ‘8 people to join Scientology.’
This is a fantastic experience for comedy nerds as well as a broadly entertaining show for casual punters to take a group of friends to. There’s bound to be a laugh in this for anyone out to have a good time, only remember don’t be dicks!
Waiting for reviews to come in to make a decision about what shows you are seeing this year? Well we’ve already reviewed quite a lot of shows that are on at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Of course some of the shows reviewed here may have been reworked, improved or changed in some way. Hang the DJ has a new DJ, Eddie Pepitonne’s show isn’t called Bloodbath and some of these shows will be different at every performance. Hopefully the past reviews that you will find linked here in alphabetical order will give you an idea of what to expect and help you work out what you are going to see this year. Look out for our new reviews from this years comedy festival, coming soon to Squirrel Comedy!
AUNTY DONNA AND THE FAX MACHINE SHOP
Aunty Donna’s first show Aunty Donna in Pants Suits got them nominated for a Golden Gibbo Award, this new show, originally performed at Melbourne Fringe 2012 made them winners of the People’s Choice Award. Aunty Donna are a sketch troupe of four guys performing very adult humour. Cathy enjoyed it and thought it was ‘a very slick production. It’s tightly scripted and well-performed.’
Ben’s show is a collaboration with the audience to explore the nature of putting on a comedy show. Elyce thought the show was fun and that’ the more the audience puts into this show, the more you will get back’.
I adored Eddie when I first saw him in Edinburgh at the recording of Stuart Goldsmiths’ Comedian’s Comedian podcast. I knew I had to see his solo show Blood Bath and was not disappointed. I described him as ‘arse-achingly funny’.
Felicity’s only appearance at this year’s comedy festival will be a reprise of her stunning, hilarious and moving show The Hedgehog Dilema. She’s filming it for prosperity and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It was one of the first shows I saw last year and her story stayed with me for a long time. ‘Her ability to keep the audience in stitches throughout all of this is a testament to her stunning talent.’
HANG THE DJ – ANDY McCLELLAND & KIEREN O’SULLIVAN –
This now has a different DJ to the one reviewed at Melbourne Fringe 2012. But Andy is still there in a show where he gets to share his passion for music and hilarious tales of being a DJ. Colin said ‘This fusion of comedy, music and dancing was a brilliant way to end an evening.’
When I first saw Live on Air it was really a work in progress but I still found it very entertaining and Telia was ‘able to consistently create new ways to make her audience laugh with her clever poetry and personas.’ She’s apparently put a lot of work in it since so it should be a pretty fabulous show.
In the tradition of Alan Partridge and Dame Edna amongst other purveyors of Theatre of Cruelty, Rob Hunter’s interview show satirises chat shows while being pretty mean to the guests, who are mostly in on the joke. Our reviewer wasn’t when he saw it at last year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival and did not have a very good time as he explained ‘ The MICF blurb about this show being “uncomfortably tense” and “not for the squeamish” was a freaking understatement for me personally’ Well if Rob Hunter is hoping to provoke strong reactions, it certainly worked with Andrew who gifted Rob with the poster quote ‘I fucking hated this show’ . We’ll be giving another reviewer a go at it this year.
Simon Munnery has been around a long time is always up to something creative, original and silly. We think Simon is a comedy genius and this was the highlight of Colin’s 2012 Edinburgh Fringe. He describes it thusly; ‘Broadcast via video link from the middle of the room, he performs sketches, monologues, puppetry and songs to camera using all sorts of video trickery to create a unique and hilarious show.’
This was a show that blew the minds of everyone who saw it at last year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival. You came out wondering ‘What the hell was that?’ and ‘Why am I still still laughing hours later?’ Beautifully designed, sharply written with clever catchy songs, surprises and lots of rude bits. Colin said ‘It’s a sick, twisted and perverted play that’s gutbustingly hilarious.’
Victoria Healy is not very comfortable with her body but manages to spend an hour exploring it for laughs. Elyce described Healy as ‘a quick-witted and talented comedic performer, who is only getting better and better at her craft.’
Hearing the strains of Billy Bragg’s melancholy A New England there was a sense that this was going to be something a bit different from Felicity. Listening to the song now I realise how poignant, (especially the Kirsty MacColl version of it) is to Felicity’s show. In contrast to the soulful song though, Felicity bounds out in a gorgeous if appropriately crushed white dress and after some friendly banter with the audience and a cute slide show, tells us cheerfully what we’ve already guessed ‘This is the dress I should have got married in’.
Felicity explains the hedgehog dilemma meaning up front, it’s basically about a fear of intimacy, but this show is about so much more. This is about Felicity’s journey to the stage via heartbreak, loneliness, psychoanalysis and surviving alcoholism. Her ability to keep the audience in stitches throughout all of this is a testament to her stunning talent.
Early on in the show she gets the audience in the right frame of mind for her dark comedy with her hilarious and brilliant alcoholic shenanigans song, where she outlines many of the embarrassing incidents that happened while she was drunk to a jaunty tune. The incidents are appalling, the tune is upbeat and the audience is in tears of laughter.
The wedding gown is quickly doffed, as she sheds an unhealthy relationship and an unhealthy addiction, she finds herself alone and starting over. Her vulnerability is palpable as she stands in her underthings describing the move back to her family and it’s the closest I’ve seen to a comedian breaking down on stage. She bravely fights back the tears, while the audience reaches for their tissues, and moves on.
The Hedgehog Dilemma is obviously the most personal of Felicity’s festival shows and her comedy acting skills that shone out of the recent Working Dog film ‘Any Questions for Ben’ are beaming here. This is evident in her ability to create skilfully drawn and hilarious characters such as her slightly disturbing therapist. She treads the fine line between comedy and pathos masterfully, like an agile highwire act, ironically contrasting with the awkward and clumsy image she has of herself.
Her warm down to earth personality keeps the story relatable and a pleasure to experience. Felicity gets better each time I see her and I recommend that you might like to take some tissues with you, for the sad tears and the comedy tears that flow in abundance.
Felicity Ward performs The Hedgehog Dilemma at the Vic Bar of the Victoria Hotel