Greg Larsen – A Grub In The Muck

By Elyce Phillips
Greg Larsen

Greg Larsen may have top billing on the posters for A Grub In The Muck, but upon entry to the Zeus Room, you discover that A Grub In The Muck is a late night show and Larsen is not in charge. He has cast himself as the sidekick to creepy mannequin host Bruce Mumm, aka Mummy (voiced by Ben Russell), as well as playing the string of guests appearing that night.

There’s a level of desperation in all of the men Larsen plays, from a city council worker to a concerned dad. They’re men in tough situations that stretch their dignity, trying to make the best of it. As people, these characters are often quite unlikeable, but Larsen plays them with enough heart that you do feel for them while they are in the depths of humiliation. Another common thread that runs between the guests of A Grub In The Muck is that they are all utterly ridiculous, and it’s the combination of self-importance and triviality that makes it all so hilarious. One segment, in which Larsen gives a TED talk, had me crying with laughter.

Larsen isn’t afraid to get down amongst the filth for his comedy. While this show isn’t as confrontingly revolting as some of his previous work, it’s certainly an element that remains. Throughout A Grub In The Muck, Larsen struggles with his desire to make political comedy that does some good versus the big laughs he gets from being gross and debasing himself. It’s an interesting tension to discuss, and bringing it up makes the final moments of the show all the more effective. Russell’s voicework as Mummy is also to be commended. His brash, over-the-top confidence is the perfect foil to Larsen’s doormat co-host and works as a physical representation of his baser instincts.

A Grub In The Muck is a fabulous show that perfectly balances the crass and the clever. Larsen might play the sidekick here, but his talent truly shines through.

A Grub In The Muck is on at the Greek Centre, Zeus until April 23
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/a-grub-in-the-muck

A Year’s Round Up and 5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016

By Lisa Clark

It’s hard to think of any great positive things that happened to the world in 2016. Apart from the odd sporting achievement, it was a nonstop pileup of deplorable crud. Australian comedy however didn’t let us down, delivering performances that will stand out, no doubt, for years to come. So to cheer myself up about the dreadful year that was I thought I’d just do a roundup of good things that happened in Australian Comedy this year.

It always brings me joy to see good comedy coming out of TV, I can remember when I would be rolling in the aisles to so many comedians on stage and felt so frustrated that their voices were not heard on TV except occasionally on the odd panel show. It was one of the reasons I set up this site. I wanted the world to know how wonderful Australian standup comedians are. This year it was so satisfying to see so many live standup performances on TV shows such as Comedy Next Gen and Comedy Up Late as well as the usual Festival Galas and Just For Laughs specials. We saw comedians working in different formats like The Katering Show, Sammy J’s Playground Politics, Who’s Line is it Anyway Australia and Hard Quiz. It’s exciting to watch Comedy Showroom give fresh comedy ideas a go and to see the sweet sitcom Rosehaven bloom so beautifully. Sitcoms have always been so bloody hard to do successfully in Australia and this year we’ve also had Here Come the Habibs doing well on 9 of all places and Upper Middle Bogan as strong, funny and heart-warming as ever in its third season.  This is all along side regular shows such as Mad As Hell, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery and The Weekly.  There was happily too much comedy on TV for me to cover properly but I’ll leave that to the TV websites. Just to say 2016 was a great year to see Australian standup comedians doing exciting and wonderful things on TV and of course beaming around the world online.

Meanwhile comedians on stage have been creating astonishing, hilarious work. I didn’t get to see everything, as usual, it’s just impossible, but I thought I’d share some of my own personal highlights of the year.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival was celebrating 30 years as a Thing and put on a fun party for comedy fans with shows such as Cal Wilson’s Sunday arvos at The Victorian Arts Centre speaking with different generations of comedians in The Decades That Were and comedy tours with Rod Quantock.

Also at the Festival this year was The Wedding of Zoe Coombes Marr and Rhys Nicholson. There have been a few great comedy weddings over the years, but this riotous spectacle which was making a clear statement in support of same-sex marriage could not be bettered. The bridesmaids were Denise Scott, Judith Lucy and Celia Pacquola, MC Hannah Gadsby made a fabulous funny and moving speech. The Priest was Geraldine Hickey, Celebrant Ben Noble. Entertainment was provided by Tina Del Twist, Peter & Bambi Heaven, Hot Brown Honey, The Daredevil Chicken Club, The Butterfly Glee Club, The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic and Melbourne Uni Choirs, Wil Anderson, Adrienne Truscott and The True Australian Patriots.

Other general comedy highlights were laughter filled Sunday afternoons at the live podcast recordings of Josh Earl’s Who Do You Think I Am?  There was the return of The Bedroom Philosopher at Local Laughs singing about haberdashery and a reboot of The Doug Anthony Allstars. Tripod celebrated 20 years on stage with a gift of their songs in book form and performing them with guests on stage, ending the year with one of their best Christmas shows ever. The new exciting discoveries in 2016 included funny musical acts Jude Perl and Sarah Wall & Freya Long of The Astrudes, then the astute, warm, political comedy of Sami Shah, Alanta Colley and character comedian Haley Tantau as her alter ego Cindy Salmon.

Finally, as is traditional, I’m including an End of Year List; 5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016. As you can imagine it’s hard to pick out only five great festival shows for the whole year, its been a really great year for live comedy.

 

5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016
Zoe Coombs Marr
1.  Zoe Coombes-Marr Trigger Warning. (MICF) The show captured the zeitgeist of the comedy world. I was laughing so hard I was worried I’d lose control of my bodily functions. I literally fell off my seat at one point. So many thoughts I’ve been thinking that she wrapped up and detonated. She destroyed me and remade me as a stronger woman. It won the Barry Award for best show at the 2016 MICF and deservedly so.

(Thanks to modern technology and smart TV people it’s been filmed and you can probably see it on ABCiView as part of Comedy Next Gen, not quite the same as live, but do it. WATCH IT. Then watch all the others)

sammy-j-award-winner

 

2. Sammy J – Hero Complex. (Melbourne Fringe) Sammy has been wowing audiences for years, but this one had the audience whooping and cheering with pure joy. It’s about the love of unpopular nerdy pursuits, in this case a passion for The Phantom comics and a friendship borne from that. The show is full of secrets and reveals, so it hard to say more except that it is gobsmacking, weepingly hilarious and will have you grinning for hours, perhaps days afterwards. This won Best Comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and will get a run at festivals in 2017 so DON’T miss it.

 

Zanzoop pic

3. Zanzoop – Feeble Minds. (MICF) Who knew a late night show in a rundown night club about an alien chat show would become the talk of MICF? All three performers added their amazing talents, my highlights being Aaron Chen as Owen Wilson with Tom Walker as Jackie Chan and the heart-warming family reunion of snarky host Zanzoop (Sam Campbell) and his alien dad (Cam Campbell) at the end.

 

4. Micheal Williams: An Evening with Michael Williams (who is trapped under a boulder) – with Jack Druce. (MICF) Michael has moved from delighting us with his clip board of sophisticated cartoon humour to giving us an all singing, all dancing audio visual extravaganza and puppet show.Michael Williams 2016 A delightfully silly show had the audience gasping when the boulder suddenly came to life and was fun for the whole family. Michael has received a 2017 Moosehead Award, so am looking forward to his Moosehead show in 2017!

 

5. True Australian Patriots (MICF). Noticing in the MICF programme that three of Australia’s most promising comedians had teamed up to lampoon right wing protest groups had comedy fans very excited and we were not disappointed. Anne Edmonds,Damien Power and Greg Larsen are all at the top of their game and gave us a riotous late night of political satire and bizarre love triangle that hit the perfect tone and bashed us right in the comedy solar plexus. True Australian Patriots

 

Happy Hogmanay from the Squirrels and hoping 2017 brings you more laughs than sorrow. X

 

Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award Winners for 2016

by Lisa Clark

It has been an amazing year at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. In a first for the Festival – The Winner of the Barry Award, Zoe Coombs-Marr, is also the Winner of the Golden Gibbo. So it’s a Barry Winner who is brave and independent and we couldn’t be happier for Zoe. Presented via Skype (also a first) by last year’s winner Sam Simmons, the award was for Zoe’s show Trigger Warning starring her gender bending alter ego called Dave. There was Big Buzz around all the Winners this year, with none being a huge surprise and all being lauded and promoted by word of mouth and on social media for weeks. All of the nominees were favourites with everyone and those of us who got out to see them are very happy about them all being held up for celebration. It’s also a rare year where all the winners are Australian, and rightly so. So congratulations to Everyone!!

If Anne Edmonds and Damien Power are a bit sad about missing out on a Barry, they can be cheered by their Directors Awards win as True Australian Patriots and know that their own shows were loved too. True Aussie Patriots – Live was some of the best political and social satire seen on an Australian stage performed by some our best comedians (2 of them having been nominated for Barrys – the other Greg, didn’t do a solo show this year to be nominated, but won the Golden Gibbo as part of Fancy Boys two years ago.) Rhys Nicholson, can take heart in the fact that his new wife Zoe won the Barry and that their big fat gay wedding at the Festival Club last night will go down in Festival history and Legend.

I think I saw co winners of The Directors Award, Zanzoop – Feeble Minds, before a lot of ‘official’ people managed to and have been singing it’s praises to everyone ever since. A truly insane, intelligent, incredible, late night chat show hosted by the wise cracking green alien Zanzoop (Sam Campbell) that surprises you by having sweetness at its heart, performed by some sincerely talented, charismatic people. It also contains Best Newcomer Tom Walker who shines in both Feeble Minds and his own gentle and delightful immersive clowning show Beep Boop.

The Pinder Prize (Named after the late John Pinder who was an original co-founder of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and opened some of the first comedy rooms in Melbourne in the 1970s – The Flying Trapese and The Last Laugh Theatre Restaurant) is a brand new award at the festival which sends recipient – Tom Ballard – to Edinburgh Fringe to perform as part of the Assembly Theatre Program.

Remember that there is still another day of Festival shows tomorrow and some shows cancelled due to illness will hopefully be rescheduled in Melbourne Soon.

Readers from other states:  You can look forward to seeing some of these shows or performers in your town soon.

Here are the Award Winners for 2016Zoe as Dave

BARRY AWARD

Winner: Zoe Coombs-Marr – Trigger Warning

Nominees:
Damien Power – Sell Mum into Slavery
Luisa Omielan (UK) – Am I Right Ladies?!
Tom Ballard – The World Keeps Happening
Anne Edmonds That’s Eddotainment
David O’Doherty (IRE) – We Are All In The Gutter, But Some Of Us Are Looking At David O’Doherty
Rhys Nicholson – Bone FideTom Walker

BEST NEWCOMER

Winner: Tom Walker – Beep Boop

Nominees:
Demi Lardner – Life Mechanic
Guy Montgomery (NZ) – Guy Montcomedy
Rose Matafeo (NZ) – Finally Dead

GOLDEN GIBBO AWARD (Independant & Creative show)

Winner: Zoe Coombs-Marr – Trigger WarningTom Ballard pic

Nominees:
Asher Treleaven & Gypsy Wood – Peter & Bambi Heaven – The Magic Inside
Luis Brown – Lessons With Luis
Tommy Dassallo – Little Golden Dassallo

THE PINDER PRIZE (including a trip to the Edinburgh Festival):

Winner: Tom Ballard – The World Keeps Happening

PIECE OF WOOD (Peer Voted – Comedian’s Choice):

Winner: Chris Wainhouse – The AntichrisTrue Australian Patriots

DIRECTOR’S CHOICE :

Winners: (Anne Edmonds, Damian Power and Greg Larsen) True Australian Patriots – Live

and

Winners: (Sam Campbell, Cam Campbell, Tom Walker and Aaron Chen) Zanzoop – Feeble Minds

Peoples choice: Carl Barron Drinking with a Fork

Funny Tonne (Audience Member seeing the most [over 100] shows): Jeremy McPherson

PREVIOUSLY WON MICF AWARDS Zanzoop pic

Deadly Funny National Champion – Jalen Sutcliffe

Class Clowns National Champion – Lauren Duong from the ACT

RAW Comedy Award (Including a trip to the Edinburgh Festival)- Danielle Walker from Victoria

True Australian Patriots Live

By Elyce Phillips
True Australian Patriots

Les, Gary and Steve (Anne Edmonds, Damian Power and Greg Larsen) are the True Australian Patriots, a fringe group desperate to protect the Australian way of life from all manner of perceived threats. This comedy festival, they are stepping into the lefty heartland to teach us all a lesson about the dangers we face, and perhaps entice us to join them in their fight.

From the moment the audience entered the venue and saw the PowerPoint presentation displayed on stage – a truly magnificent collection of patriotic memes and yellow Monaro photos – the laughter was constant. Everything about this show is painfully funny. There are educational segments filled with crackpottery, baffling displays of Australian culture, and more weightlifting than you would expect. Bubbling underneath it all is the complicated relationship between the trio – a constant struggle for power and love.

Edmonds, Power and Larsen throw everything they’ve got into their characters, creating personas that are truly horrible and yet kind of endearing. Over the course of the show, you get some insight into how these people came together as a result of deeper issues in their lives. Les, Gary and Steve are perfectly unprofessional, regularly stuffing up lines, positioning themselves awkwardly on the stage, and getting upset when the audience laughs at them.

This is not a show for the faint-hearted. Edmonds, Power and Larsen stay true to their characters throughout and do not shy away from the content they’re satirising. The bulk of what comes out of their collective faces is deeply offensive, and a part of you does cringe at the thought that there are people out there who are genuinely that prejudiced. But through being bold and out-and-out stupid with this material, True Australian Patriots show these “patriotic” groups for what they are – collections of very sad people with completely ridiculous opinions that should not be taken seriously in any way, shape or form.

True Australian Patriots Live is a show unlike any other. It’s a total assault on all the senses, and an absolute masterclass in commitment to character. This big lefty was certainly shown what’s what and left the venue in tears.

True Australian Patriots Live is on at the Melbourne Town Hall Supper Room until April 16.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/live-true-australian-patriots

Greg Larsen – Experience the Difference

By Sofia Monkiewicz Greg Larsen  Experience the Difference

When a stand-up show begins with the comedian dancing onto the stage wearing a bright pink hat and waving around a dildo, you just have a feeling that things are going to get a little weird.

Greg Larsen is a self-proclaimed socially awkward full-time comedian who doesn’t want to live up to any stereotypes or be placed (figuratively) into any boxes. His 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, Experience the Difference, covers a variety of topics and themes that help counteract Larsen’s concerns; it is impossible to pinpoint the ‘type’ of comedy he is all about.

The first half of the show does cover fairly typical stand-up comedian subject matter, as we hear about Larsen’s love for fast food, his dire employment history, and similarities and differences between Brisbane and Melbourne. Not to say that his jokes aren’t funny – his observations and the way he conveys his thoughts are remarkably droll – but it isn’t the most original content offered in the festival. He then throws in a poem about autumn, with some not-so-subtle political references attached to each verse, and shares his views about gender equality, women in comedy, and his resentment of limiting people based on predisposed perceptions. Larsen tells us that he wanted to be a comedian that focused solely on political material, but that he won’t because dicks and farts are just so funny; a sentiment that seems to perfectly describe the entirety of Experience the Difference.

From a revolting memory that revolves around watching a child defecate in the middle of a department store (and being forced to clean it up) to a hilarious retelling of an embarrassing situation involving sending a girl some risqué text messages, Larsen maintains a likeable and engaging personality, despite the crude nature of many of his stories. He is the kind of exceptional comic who can be inappropriate and utterly vulgar, but one that you could still probably take your parents to see.

During one part he rants long and hard about over-the-top advertising campaigns involving crunchy chips and chunky soup, and a short while later he rages over society’s obsession with labels and putting people into boxes. It is clear to see that he is a very passionate man, about both food and politics, and his enthusiasm is endearing and comical. It is great to see his passion for equality spill into his comedy. Comedians often make mention of current issues, but then follow up their thoughts with an unrelated joke, in an attempt to keep things light. Larsen pushes on, thoroughly explaining his sincere opinions about breaking stereotypes.

A final trio of short poems combines his political beliefs with his appreciation of lewd humour, which concludes the show nicely, and leaves the audience giggling like uncouth schoolchildren.

Larsen has put together a decent selection of his best work in Experience the Difference. A tight debut, with a delightful mix of crudeness, seriousness and hilarity.

Greg Larsen’s Experience the Difference is on at Gin Palace until April 19.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/experience-the-difference-greg-larsen

Comedy Xmas Shows Are Coming to Town

By Lisa Clark

All around Melbourne the comedy venues are putting together Christmas shows with more laughs than you’ll find in any Christmas Cracker. We put together a list and you can check it twice. These are all the Christmas shows we know about, coming to Melbourne this December, including some exciting live podcast recordings.

THE BELLA UNION BAR

The Bella Union Bar is in a Seriously Festive mood and has a lot of Christmas cheer to offer. Comedy wise there are three main offerings.

Sweetest Plum – How the Plum Stole Christmas 
Podcasters Nick Maxwell and Declan Fay will present their usual razor sharp banter**, with a star-studded line-up of celebrity guests***

**   Razor sharp banter is not guaranteed.
*** Star-studded line-up may just be Gatesy, on a stool, with a guitar
Date: 14th December, 2014
Time: 5:00pm
Price: $20/15

http://www.bellaunion.com.au/program_guide/show_902/

 

After Dinner Mint Christmas Spectacular By The Lords Of Luxury 
The final After Dinner Mint of the year features:
– Master of the dark arts, David Quirk
– Masters of mayhem, Aunty Donna
– Master of sideburns, Hairy Soul Man aka Kai Smythe
Plus many special guests AND a visit from the one and only Santa Claus!

Hosted by The Lords of Luxury with music from Gillian Cosgriff.

Date: Tuesday December 9
Time: 8:30pm.
Price: Presale $12/9  or $15/10 at the door

http://www.bellaunion.com.au/program_guide/show_838/

 

A Swinging Bella Christmas 

This will be a musical comedy show with MC Casey Bennetto and his co-host being comedy chanteuse Geraldine Quinn with their band the Bella All Stars. On Thursday 18th the special guests will be Alan Brough and Mike McLeish and on Friday the special guests will be Tripod so you can no doubt go to both and are pretty much guaranteed a sensational time.

Dates:
Thur 18 Dec 2014
Fri 19 Dec 2014

Time: 7:30pm
Price: $35 Full $30 Group $25 Conc

http://www.bellaunion.com.au/program_guide/show_656/

 

THE BUTTERFLY CLUB 

What The Dickens!

Travel back in time to 1851, to Victorian England and the great age of discovery and storytelling. Created from your suggestions, tales of sweet-hearted heroes, sickly orphans, bumbling constables and winsome ladies are woven into a new, unique Dickensian tale every night.

Play parlour games like Poor Pussy, the Laughing Game and join Melbourne’s finest improvisors for mince pies and some Christmas cheer in the wonderful ‘curiosity shoppe’ that is The Butterfly Club.

Wednesday 17 December 2014    6:00pm
Thursday 18 December 2014     7:00pm
Friday 19 December 2014  7:00pm
Saturday 20 December 2014     7:00pm
Sunday 21 December 2014       6:00pm

Price $28/23

https://www.thebutterflyclub.com/show/what-the-dickens

 

The Comedy Gallery @ Jacksons Christmas 
Jacksons – 8 Jackson Street Toorak

With Marty Fields, Nelson Twins, Andrew Brown, Dale Craig and Mayumi Nobetsu

Date: Tue  16 Dec
Price: $25 SHOW ONLY  $50 MEAL & SHOW – contact details for dinner and show bookings – 9827 8244
Time: 8.30

 

THE GH HOTEL (formally Greyhound Hotel) St Kilda

Joel Creasey’s Office Christmas Party 

Joel Creasey and special guests share their Christmas tales, disasters and songs. Join Australia’s finest comedians and celebrities at Joel’s office Christmas party!

Seating is unallocated- come down early for some pre-show Christmas cheer!

This is an ALL AGES event however anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Date: Sat 6th December, 2014
Time: 7:00pm (Doors open at 6pm for 7 – 8:30pm show.)
Price: $30 or $33.80 with Booking fee

Bookings through Moshtix http://www.moshtix.com.au/v2/event/joel-creaseys-office-christmas-party/74160

 

LOCAL LAUGHS presented by Janet A Mcleod 

At The Local Taphouse – 184 Carlisle St StKilda

With Janet’s famous Christmas style, decorations, the inimitable Andrew McClelland as MC and guests who so far include: Matt Elsbury, Rusty Berther, Dilruk Jayasinha and Cal Wilson, it’s sure to be a jolly good wiz bang night.

Date: Mon 22nd Dec
Time: 8.30pm
Price: $15/12

https://www.facebook.com/LocalLaughs

 

PUBLIC BAR 

238 Victoria St Melbourne (opposite Queen Vic Market)

The Public Bar Xmas Show

With Steele Saunders, who will be cooking up an all-star mystery line up.

Date: Wed 17 December
Time: 8.30pm
Price: $5

https://www.facebook.com/ThePublicBarComedy

 

THE SHELF 

At The Toff in Town, 252 Level 2 Curtain House Swanston St Melbourne.

Have a Christmas celebration with The Shelf. For three Mondays in December, The Shelf team will be rocking the night away with their final show being Dec 15 (So it must be a Christmas Show)

Hosted by Justin Hamilton and Adam Richard, regulars include Cal Wilson, sketch troupe Aunty Donna and Claire Hooper and there  is always a huge line up of very special guests

Date: Mon 15 December
Time: 7.30pm
Price – $25/$30

 http://www.moshtix.com.au/v2/event/the-shelf-season-10-15-december/73460

 

COMEDY AT SPLEEN 

Spleen Bar, 41 Bourke St Melbourne

Spleen Xmas  Show is having a huge three bracket show that closes with the naming of the 2014 Spleen Comic of the year.

Featuring:

Harley Breen, Oliver Clark, Tommy Little, Greg Larsen, Gary Chook, Xavier Michelides, Nick Cody, Anne Edmonds, Dilruk Jayasinha, Karl Chandler , Steele Saunders and surprise guests!

Date: Mon 15 December
Time: 8.30pm
Price: Gold Coin Donation

http://www.comedyatspleen.com/

 

YARRAVILLE LAUGHS

The Yarraville Club 135 Stephen St, Yarraville.

Yarraville Laughs has two sparkly fabulous Christmas Shows this year.

The 2014 Christmas Cracker 

Sat 13 Dec

Featuring Denise Scott & Fiona O’Loughlin
Plus Special MC Jeff Green (UK)

A top comedy line-up that will sell out fast.

Tickets: www.yarravillelaughs.com

DOORS
Dinner & Show: 6:30pm
Show Only: 8pm
Show Starts: 8:30pm

TICKET OPTIONS
Dinner & Show $100 (Doors open at 6:30pm)
Reserved Seating $55 (Doors open at 7:30pm)
General Admission $45 (Doors open at 7:30pm)

EFFIE in A Date With Effie – ‘Kiss Me Under The Camel-Toe… Sorry, Mistletoe’ 

Sat December 20

DOORS
Dinner & Show: 6:30pm
Show Only: 8pm
Show Starts: 8:30pm

Ticket Options

Dinner & Show $90 (Doors open at 6:30pm)
Reserved Seating $45 (Doors open at 8pm)
General Admission $35 (Doors open at 8pm)
On the Door $40 (if available)

 

Also Other Pre Christmas Live Podcast Recordings:

I Love Green Guide Letters 15th Episode Live Spectacular 
At the Last Laugh Comedy Club at the Athenaeum Theatre 188 Collins St Melbourne

With a cast of 1,00s including adorable Channel 9 Newsreader Peter Hitchener

Date: Saturday Dec 6
Time: 3.30pm
Price: $20

 

Little Dum Dum Club 4th Birthday Show Live 

At Five Boroughs Comedy, 68 Hardware Lane (upstairs), Melbourne.

Tommy Dassalo and Karl Chandler present the usual dickheadery, tips about fast food outlets and some super special guests. Includes an extra post show by Nick Cody

Date: Sunday, December 7,
Time: 4pm.
Price: $21