By Lisa Clark
Midsumma Comedy Extravaganza was exactly that, a big extravaganza of gay comedy. Thomas Jaspers has put this together brilliantly with every performer in the right part of the bill doing what they do best and they all chip in to help create a party atmosphere.
The audience are up for it and the performers delivered. Joel Creasey was, of course, a consummate host providing a lot of goss about living on the island and hanging out with Marcia Brady on a reality show. He’ll be dining out on that for many years to come no doubt. His finding-himself-at-an-orgy material also goes down a treat.
First up on the deck is the relaxed and affable Kirsty Webeck, who’s standup I’ve seen only once before and tonight I can appreciate how she’s developed the new comedy ideas she was trying out then, into some pretty solid material that had the audience in fits. It was a beautiful and hilarious set about dealing with other people’s perceptions of you. Her Festival show this year is bound to be a cracker. Kirsty is creating a strong and confident, crowd pleasing stage persona and is definitely one to keep an eye on.
I’ve not seen Bobby Macumber in a few years and realise, I’ve been missing out. She’s developed into a very fine storytelling comedian. Bobby is definitely in her comfort zone here, playing on the home ground and it’s a joy to experience. Families-being-embarrassing stories, but from the gay family member’s perspective and the room was in full empathy with her hilarious experiences.
Rhys Nicholson is a comedian at the top of his game and match ready for the Festival season. This is mostly new material, which I heard him talking about later on Dave O’Neil’s fabulous podcast – The Debrief, but you would never know Rhys hadn’t been doing it for a year. Sharp and sassy as ever, he knew this was a safe space to get laughs from some very adult sex and drugs material and he was right. Definitely the highlight of the evening and often the highlight of any comedy evening, Rhys is on his way to stardom.
Perhaps knowing that Rhys is a hard act to follow, Joel Creasey was back to reset the audience ready for a lesser known comedian Lori Bell who brought an Adelaide perspective to the night. Lori is better known as Granny Flaps and has been performing as Granny for several years, I’ve not seen her perform stand up as herself before and it was right up there with the high standard of the rest . I hope to see a lot more of her.
Finally Dolly Diamond brought the cabaret to the night. Dolly does good old fashioned British cabaret, she feels like a cross between Dick Emery’s Mandy (“Oooh You Are Awful”) and Julian Clary. She does fairly good insulting crowd work, is quick on the witty aside and has the audience join her in a song or two. I saw her die the death at the Festival Club a couple of years ago with material that came across as dated and tired, but here she shines with radiant exuberance, being a total contrast with the rest of the night and gives the audience a big finish with a silly singalong to go home on.
This was a fabulous one off experience at Midsumma, an explosion of joy in the comfortable surrounds of the Fairfax Studio at The Arts Centre that was packed out with happy punters. Hopefully the well named Extravaganza will be back next year with another memorable line up.
Midsumma Comedy Extravaganza was at The Fairfax Studio at The Arts Centre on Jan 24.