Whenever comics from abroad perform in Australia, their sets inevitably grapple with Australian culture: its idioms, its whims, its myths. Their outside perspective doesn’t only provide ample laughs, but also a heightened sense of what our country is like. The best comedy of this ilk causes us to rethink and reflect on things we’ve so long taken for granted – perhaps our sanctification of sport, or our attitudes on politics. G’Day Comrade! gives this a hearty crack, with mixed – but admittedly enjoyable – results.
The performance is almost completely set around the Russian comedians often confused and baffled views of Australian life. Gosha Bodryi is the host of the show, and probably the most confident of the three comics. A former scientist, Bodryi tells us that he’s entered the comedy game “for the riches”. His jokes were perceptibly well-thought out, though his execution was at times uneven. When he got it right, he left the audience in fits of laughter. His suite of jokes involving Sale, the small-town in country Victoria where Bodryi first lived when he arrived in Australia, are to be savoured.
There’s a huge contrast in styles between the first and second sets. Kaychu Symon is the ying to Bodryi’s yang. She’s boisterous and lively, while Bodryi is calculated and controlled. Part of Symon’s appeal was her unrestrained approach, the way she laughs at herself and moves around the stage. She jumped right in with a series of ribald jokes, setting the tone for her performance. As a mother, a divorcee, and a former Israeli and Russian citizen, Symon has a wealth of life experience to draw on for her set, and at around 15-20 minutes, you’d like to hear more of her material. Though, it’s certainly better to leave your audience wanting more, than to exhaust them with material.
The last comic of the night (or afternoon, depending when you see the show) is Gleb Tugushev, who gets on the stage with an unverified lotion on his face. He assures us it’s sunscreen, and it’s a good and early sight joke. Of the three, Tugushev is the zaniest. Some of his jokes were simply illogical, and others were amusingly bizarre, particularly around the native animals that populate our country. The fact that he had to look at his hand for prompts sometimes stifled the flow of his set, and I imagine this is something he’ll resolve in the near future.
G’Day Comrade! is united around the Russian and Australian perspectives of its performers. There were plenty of jokes directed at Putin – some trite, others genuinely funny – but the show focused far more on the personal and the local than the political and the global. Bodryi, Symon and Tugushev adequately prove that jokes about sexting, Australian school holidays, and Vegemite can be as funny as mocking politicians, governments or disagreeable ideologies.
G’Day Comrade! runs until 1 April. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/g-day-comrade-russian-comics-down-under