Two brothers, who are shovel salesmen, are on the run from the Russian Mob. They are hiding where they couldn’t possibly be found, in a MICF Show documenting their plight. So begins Blake Everett & Oliver Coleman Dig Their Own Graves, a slightly meta and rollicking tale of action, sibling rivalry and violence that created quite some buzz during their run at Adelaide Fringe.
They forgo the straight man plus wacky jokester formula usually associated with double acts. Both title characters are completely bonkers with plenty of misbehaving manchild thrown in. Each has a hand in nudging the plot forward as well as spouting off-kilter lines to amuse and confuse. The peripheral characters, played by the tech guy, a friend and random audience members, are larger than life and bring extra lunacy.
A lot has gone into the sound design. They use sound effects to react to (often poorly with hilarious results) as well as mood music and amusing parody commercials. Lighting cues set the scenes perfectly while a variety of costumes and zany props flesh out this crazy world (one puppet is worth the price of admission alone!). So many items are thrown about the stage and audience that clean up must be a nightmare (hence the late time slot).
Role swapping keeps you on your toes and there are more twists than a mountain road. They successfully manipulate the audience through both wonderful plotting and ideas that seem superfluous on the surface but pay off later. A few scenes only vaguely fit with the story but they’re silly and enjoyable enough, even if they seem shoehorned in or just exist for a few bad puns. Regular festival goers will enjoy the cheeky digs at MICF shows past and present and all will have fun when they burst into song. Corpsing is a regular occurrence and they manage to keep the performance quite loose in spite of the substantial plot to get through.
This is a crazy hour where you will laugh your head off at a couple of masters of comedic surrealism. After your have had more than your fill and stepped through the carnage to the exit, you can purchase a shovel or two.
Blake Everett & Oliver Coleman Dig Their Own Graves is on at Storyville until April 18
1. Blake Everett and Oliver Coleman are two established comedians in their own right, but have decided to join forces to become the best comedic duo since Neil and Tim Finn.
2. They just received a 5 star review for the Adelaide Fringe run of their show. Blake has been getting 4 star reviews as a solo act for years, turns out all he needed to do was team up with a 1 star comedian.
3. It’s the only show about shovels at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, this year or any other year. Except for Wil Anderson’s 2017 show Wil it Shovel?
4. It’s not stand-up. Sure, go see some conventional stand-up comedy, but don’t forget about the weirdos! It’s late-night “absurdity that manages to keep its audience in stitches from start to finish” (The Advertiser).
5. If you come to the show Blake and/or Oliver will give you a snack (please pass on any dietary requirements to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Blake Everett and Oliver Coleman Dig Their Own Graves at Storyville and Trades Hall April 6 – 18
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award for the best show: James Acaster (UK) – Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999
Anne Edmonds- What’s Wrong With You?
Cassie Workman – Giantess
Geraldine Hickey – Things Are Going Well
Nath Valvo – I’m Happy For You
Tom Allen (UK) – Absolutely
The Best Newcomer: Blake Freeman – There’s Something There
Dan Rath – Bubble Bath
Nina Oyama – Needs a Lift
Oliver Coleman – Poolside
The Golden Gibbo Award (for an artistic independent production): Neal Portenza & Joshua Ladgrove –Neal Portenza is Joshua Ladgrove
Nominees for The Golden Gibbo Award:
Game Boys – Game Boys Cinematic Universe
Lauren Bok – Rock Out With Your Bok Out
Margot Tanjutco – Vanity Fair Enough
Oliver Coleman – Poolside
Patrick Collins – Mime Consultant / Patrick Collins And the Magic Shoe
People’s Choice Award: Urzila Carlson Loser
This award signifies that Urzila Carlson sold the most tickets at this year’s Festival.
The Directors’ Choice Award: Aaron Chen – Piss Off (Just Kidding)
Presented by Melbourne International Comedy Festival Director Susan Provan
The Pinder Prize: Sam Taunton – Straight From The Shoulder & Steph Tisdell – The Pyramid
This Award funds their trips to the Edinburgh Fringe
to perform at Assembly Festival. It was presented by Demi Lardner
Piece of Wood Award (Peer Award from other comedians): Geraldine Hickey – Things Are Going Well
Presented by Greg Fleet who created the Award and Heath Franklin last year’s winner.
Funny Tonne Winner: John Souness
Deadly Funny National Grand Final winner: Fabian Woods
RAW Comedy Grand Final Winner: Fady Kassab (NSW)
Fady has won a trip to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival to compete in So You Think You’re Funny?. RAW Runners-Up: Suraj Kolarkar (QLD) and Laura Hutchinson (WA)
Class Clowns National Grand Final Winners Patti Fawcett (Bendigo South East College, VIC) Class Clowns Runners-Up:
Whose My Parents? (Ben Depoma, Cyrus James-Hankin, Soren Pryor) from St Theresa’s Catholic College Abergowrie, QLD, and Nic Doring (Alexandria Park Community High School NSW)
Last time we last saw Oliver Coleman he was working as a duo with Emil Freund in Uncompetent. It was a really enjoyable show and this is no different, except that Oliver proves that he can pull off a fabulous wacky sketch show as a solo artist.
Oliver welcomes us to the space in character as a loud and overbearing pool man with a big fake moustache called Mr Squires. It certainly gives you the vibe of what you are in for. He begins by outlining the rules. There are many and they are very silly. Poolside is full of really interesting funny ideas, big props, gags and one-liners, and he doesn’t stray from the poolside theme too often. Though we did find ourselves in a New York comedy club at one point. But it’s worth it. Oliver brilliantly plays a tough old school New York comic as well as his wife, who cleverly has the same style New York accent. It’s a bravura performance of a character cameo and well worth the segue.
Oliver Coleman with his winning style and excellent comic physicality reminded me of Duff crossed with Francis Greenslade doing a Sam Simmons style show. It’s mostly very loud and in your face, with the occasional quieter moment. He’s not too confronting as to be unbearable though. In his shorts he’s like a big hyper kid who’s had too much red cordial, he’s having fun and really wants us to join in. He never jumps into bullying the audience, but certainly plays around the edges. He makes an effort to be kind to his 2 audience helpmates which keeps the audience on side.
Poolside is jam-packed with laughs and doesn’t let up. There are no dull spots. The delightful centrepiece of Poolside revolves around him stressing over latecomers filling the few empty seats. I wonder how he will manage that when this excellent show starts selling out? He better have a backup plan because those seats are going to be crammed in with punters once word gets around.
Oliver Coleman Poolside is on at Tasma Terrace til Apr 7
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.
In Uncompetent, Oliver Coleman and Emil Freund have created a sketch show with all the essential elements for a good time. Bold characters that project to the back wall? Check! An economical script with plenty of punchlines? Check! Performers willing to do anything for a laugh? Check! Props? Check! The only thing remaining is for an audience to strap themselves in for an hour of crazy sketch action.
Coleman and Freund are reminiscent of Monty Python in their delivery and the way they structure the show. Sketches veer off in a myriad of unexpected places and sometimes end oddly, transitions are abrupt and their wacky characters are suitably over the top. Add plenty of silly voices, dodgy foreign accents and huge gestures, and you have the perfect homage to the deities of sketch with plenty of modern twists and references.
A clever framing device of “Market Research” is a great way of incorporating some mild audience interaction that is never at the expense of the punters. The patter is tightly scripted and puts themselves clearly at the butt of the joke. The late hour allows the guys to indulge in some risqué concepts and genuine gross out moments that simultaneously repulse and delight the crowd.
Every sketch goes into many hilariously surprising directions with a unique crazy logic to keep everyone on their toes. There are a few sombre moments that stick out like sore thumbs amongst the lunacy. These don’t necessarily lead to punchline but transition into something else while keeping the audience glued to every word. These segments fit perfectly with the overall plot, despite the performers cheekily criticising their own narrative structure.
The boys bounce effortlessly off one another and sell the shit out of their wonderful script. Neither are above making themselves look stupid and although Freund generally plays straight-man they can switch roles when the need arises. With minimal costuming (save for one pivotal character) they conjure a world of grotesque and strange characters and utilise plenty of props that look like effort has gone into constructing them while still having a thrown together feel. Reactions to musical and lighting cues, sound effects and voiceovers are pulled off without a hitch.
Coleman and Freund are an awesome powerhouse in two handed sketch comedy. This late night hour of silliness is a brilliant way to cap off your night.