Comedians Against Humanity: Hosted by Yianni Agisilaou

By Nick Bugeja 

No individual comedy show is replicable. Even those that are scripted and rehearsed cannot produce the exact same content and flow over consecutive performances. Audience interactions may vary, the comedian might take a swill of beer at different intervals, a stronger emphasis might be applied to a line that’s “killed” over the past few nights. A show like Comedians Against Humanity takes this idea to the extremes, because its improvised and disorderly nature means that every performance is bound to barely resemble its predecessor. For this reason, it’s difficult to review; the next incarnation of it, for all I know, might be much better, or much worse. Or even of the same pedigree.

The show is essentially just a bunch of comedians playing Cards Against Humanity, with some degree of audience input (many of whom, unfortunately, fancy themselves as comics). For those unfamiliar with the game, it means that the performers must enact sketches by reference to strange and bizarre cards they’re handed, that say things like “I’ve created the world’s newest religion” or “Nicholas Cage’s face”. The only other constant of the show is that it’s always hosted by Agisilaou. The comedians called upon to play, I’m told, are different each show. The performance I saw featured Australian comic Rama Nicholas, and Brits Mark Watson and Chortle Editor Steve Bennett. Agisilaou kickstarts the night with a bit of an explanation of the game, its rules and decorum and what to expect (beware to those who dare to come in late, you might stumble in at an inopportune, apparently offensive time). Then they proceed to play several games: pretending to pitch a movie, hold press conferences, and preside over interrogations.

The very nature of the show is up-and-down. Some moments are riotous, and others are quiet and still, as the performers mine their brains for something funny to say. The first thing that strikes you is how hard the format of the show is on the comics: they’ve got to be lightning quick in spitting out jokes, and their comedic prospects are dependent, basically, on what’s written on a card or two. Not all the jokes and utterances deliver maximal impact. But that doesn’t matter because at other times, there can be spates of jokes that come off well. I think the key to this kind of show is momentum and rhythm: when you don’t have any you’re in trouble, when you’ve got it you better make the most of it.

There’s also a sense that one night you might have the comedic touch, and the next you mightn’t. At this performance, Mark Watson and Steve Bennett were in fine form. They delivered the largest and most regular laughs. Despite a modest showing in his first solo game, Watson proved himself a quick-witted comic; you can’t help but be impressed by him. I, for one, am now inclined to check out his stand-up routine. Bennett was consistently funny across the show. His comedy is of a quirky, definitive kind, and his awkward disposition on stage invariably engages us. The two of them complemented each other; Watson’s verbosity combined well with Bennett’s concision.

Nicholas felt a little off her game. She said the least in the group games, and her jokes were hit-and-miss. Although, her “press conference” as a redneck American author provided numerous laughs. Maybe another night might’ve been friendlier to her. As the host, Agisilaou was reliable. Through the night, he acted more as a facilitator than as a participant of the game, so this meant the best lines were usually reserved for the players. When he had the stage to himself at the start of the show, though, he was able to display his ample comedic talents.

Comedians Against Humanity is showing at the Athenaeum Theatre until April 21.

Tickets are available at: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/comedians-against-humanity-hosted-by-yianni-agisilaou

 

Melbourne International Comedy Festival Previously Reviewed Shows

It’s nearly time for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival!!!

Our tails are waggling excitedly as we plan our festival and the shows we will be seeing and reviewing for you. It’s a big 30th Anniversary and we’ll be enjoying a lot of the wonderful birthday events and exhibitions too.

As always to help you make decisions about which shows you should see at the festival we have a list for you of all the shows we have already reviewed so you can check them out.

Don’t forget to take a punt on someone you’ve never heard of, they might change your world and you, for making up an awesome audience, theirs.

Down the bottom of this article, I’ve listed some shows that have been cancelled.

Meanwhile here are some reviews we prepared earlier:

Christopher Welldon Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=9253

Dave Callan A Little Less Conversation 3: Even More Less Conversation

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=9380

Dilruk Jayasinha – Sri Wanka

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=9383

Geraldine Hickey Winner!

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=9243

I love Green Guide Letters with Steele Saunders

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5892

Lauren Bok Is That A Burrito In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy You Have a Burrito

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=9270

Lauren Bok, Sam Marzden & Bert Goldsmith Radio Variety Hour

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5089

Lisa-Skye & Nick Caddaye Gentlemen’s Agreement

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=9309

Little Dum Dum Club: Live!

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5938

Rama Nicholas in Mary Weather’s Monsters

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=9298

Set List

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6695

Soothplayers Completely Improvised Shakespeare

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=9433

 

Cancelled Shows

The following is the list so far. We will pop any more of these up on the ‘In Brief’ section of our site as they come in:

ACE Comedy vs Politics Gala Dinner

Funny Folks Have a Crack!

Squeaky Clean Comedy

5 PM Variety Show

 

 

5 Good Reasons to See Rama Nicholas: Mary Weather’s Monsters

1. Lovesick Vampires, cocky Monster Hunters, and Curious Beasts!

2. The story is inspired by beloved shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Penny Dreadful, and Supernatural, plus lashings of historical inaccuracies and gothic literature thrown in to keep things interesting.

3. Rama plays *all* the characters in the show – and you’ll forget that it’s just her onstage once you’ve met all 11 of them!

4. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys a good old-fashioned rollicking adventure story, Mary Weather’s Monsters will sweep you away into the Monster’s Realm before you can say ‘Hawke Beast’.

5. Trades Hall always has good times going on long into the night – so it makes those extra few blocks well worth it when there’s a cold drink at the end of it.

 

Rama Nicholas is performing Mary Weather’s Monsters at Trades Hall for MICF

For more information See the MICF website: 

Rama Nicholas in Mary Weather’s Monsters

By Colin Flaherty
Mary-Weather-s-Monsters

Rama Nicholas presented another gothic comedy tour de force, this time exploring the golden age of horror novels. It had lots of laughs, plentiful drama and many buckles to swash.

The script tended to focus on drama and action as opposed to out and out comedy. Things got a little sombre at times, enough to create the perfect mix of lightness and dark as our hero went on a physical journey as well as a personal one with a moral lesson to be learnt, just like all the best adventure tales. It wasn’t dour drama, there were enough witty asides to the audience, comic relief from the supporting characters, ribald quips from our lady monster hunter and interludes from an unhinged narrator to provide laughs when we weren’t on the edge of our seats.

It was interesting to see how many real life characters from that era’s horror literary scene were included in this fantastical tale. Their identities were clearly signposted from the outset so there were no great surprises with regards to a number of the jokes and plot points, particularly if you are well versed in these writers. Fear not, there were plenty of other twists and turns to keep us guessing and gasping as they were revealed.

There was a little bit of audience interaction with us collectively acting as Percy the Poet’s muse to compose a poem. This doesn’t really affect the show in any significant way but depending on the suggestions this could add humour to the show or simply be a lovely bit of verse.

On a bare stage, save for an easel, Nicholas plays all the characters, flitting between each using nothing more than gestures and voices to distinguish each. She does a brilliant job, ensuring that you don’t get too confused when more than two characters are interacting. We even get a taste of her beautiful singing voice as part of a dream sequence. Perfect lighting and musical cues were the cherry on top.

Nicholas has once again produced a show that will have everyone raving and deservedly so. It was a wonderful performance by a consummate performer.

Mary Weather’s Monsters is on at the North Melbourne Town Hall until October 3rd

https://www.melbournefringe.com.au/program/event/view/94602c74-be3b-43e3-b1ef-17cda32d2493

5 Good Reasons to see Rama Nicholas in Mary Weather’s Monsters

1. Mary Weather’s Monsters is a comedy that’s very different to stand-up. The show is theatrical, lyrical, and atmospheric. It’s also a brand new show, so you’ll be among the first to see it.

2. The story is an action-adventure set in 1890’s London inspired by gothic literature (and other famous gothic films and TV shows).

3. Mary Weather, the title character, is a bad-ass monster-hunter, who faces her demons (literally and figuratively).

4. I play 11 characters in total, from hunters to beasts, to ghosts and vampires – switching seamlessly between them to create a whirlwind of gothic intrigue.

5. You’ll laugh a lot… then cry…then swoon like a Victorian lady.

Rama Nicholas is performing Mary Weather’s Monsters at the North Melbourne Town Hall

For Tickets & info: https://www.melbournefringe.com.au/program/event/view/94602c74-be3b-43e3-b1ef-17cda32d2493

Rama Nicholas : After Ever After

By Alanta Colley

Disney would have you believe that a story has a beginning, middle, and an end. But stories don’t really ever end, do they?

Rama Nicholas takes us on a twisted, treacherous and cheeky journey into the lives of Grimm’s characters after the wedding bells have fallen silent, after the romance has faded and after the baddies have done their time in the clink.

Nicholas reclaims the macabre and gruesome tone that so many of Grimm’s fairy tales have been stripped of under a sanitised Disney treatment. Under Nicholas’ mischievous re-imagining we learn of the darker side of some of the sweeter heroines. We hear what the seven dwarves got up to after Snow White’s wedding day. We learn of tortured love affairs Disney never would have condoned. We learn of vengeance, of martial arts training, of addictions and many more vices unmentioned until now. All of this takes place in the appropriately-named city of Grimland.

Nicholas single-handedly delivers a packed cast of no less than fifteen well known fairy tale folk. The performance is a sophisticated feat of agility as she skilfully enacts a scene with up to eight characters all by herself. That she can leap from one character to the next in a split second without leaving the audience behind is a testament to Nicholas’ theatrical abilities. Each character is superbly developed; with rich accents and diverse physicalities and relatable motivations, enabling Nicholas to safely carry us into the realm of willing suspension of disbelief using a minimum of props or effects.

The performance is dotted with musical ditties; each number quite captivating. Nicholas displays being as musically talented as she is as a writer and performer. She’s also not afraid to take her characters to saucy encounters!

Nicholas is a divine physical story teller. Lose yourself in this rich, ridiculous and raucous piece of theatre. A delightful hour of enchanting and twisted tales to behold.

After Ever After is on at the Portland Hotel – Locker Room until April 20
http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/after-ever-after-rama-nicholas