A BIG YEAR’S ROUND UP AND 5 VERY GOOD SHOWS OF 2017

By Lisa Clark

In 2017 I decided to set a challenge for myself to write up every show that I saw in my Lisa’s Live Comedy Big Year Blog. Well. As you can see, it became harder to keep up with in the second half of the year, even though it seems that is when things are usually quieter, I was wrong and life stayed pretty busy and when it was not it was because I was ill. I still kept other records of my gigs and so was able to list them all, but not reviews sadly, so I don’t have reviews of a lot of my comedy experiences for the last part of the year. I also wanted to keep a pictorial record of gigs, but it’s not always possible to take photos and even in the regular comedy rooms, I was not good at taking subtle photos and got caught out and commented upon/told off. Then my flash went off by mistake. Arrrggghhh! So I gave up on my own photos and got some much better ones from room runners or friends with more experience.

Of course I spent a lot of time at my regular comedy haunt Local Laughs, but managed to visit several other rooms as well. I have had a lot of wonderful comedy experiences this year, especially during the trip to the UK which included seeing Daniel Kitson’s Something Other Than Everything at the Roundhouse in London and two weeks at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where highlights included seeing The Doug Anthony Allstars still making jaws drop in their home away from home, new discovery Jayde Adams just blowing the room away at The Pleasance media showcase with her surprising vocal talent and the hilarious story that goes with it, seeing Yianni do his best work in some time because it came from his life and his heart, Adam Vincent slaying packed rooms with deep dark tales of suburbia and playing interactive Wifi Wars at midnight.

Other highlights of the year include the final shows of the debauched boutique comedy legend that was The Shelf and in particular the performance of Fringe Wives Club who brought the house down and made everyone rush out to see their show.  Andy Zaltzman did the searing political comedy, Plan Z, that everyone had expected from  Ex Bugler John Oliver when he last toured and finally I adored Sammy J’s Magnum Opus – Hero Compex for a 2nd time, to find it had evolved, as the story had in real life and it was joyful to watch everyone’s jaw dropping and howling with laughter as the story unfolded, knowing where it was going. Under the radar: Not enough people were talking about UK comedian Kieran Hodgson at MICF but my goodness Maestro was a gorgeous show and the joyful weirdness of Aussie duo The Lioness who’s show  Peggy Babcock, Peggy Babcock, Peggy Babcock had a much too short run in an out of the way venue.

Its always hard sorting out a shortlist of the best comedy shows. I have picked out 5 outstanding experiences and they are set down in the order that I saw them.

 

5 VERY GOOD SHOWS OF 2017

Wil Anderson Fire at Wil at The Comedy Theatre, Melbourne. January 22

Lineup: Wil Anderson, Supported by Justin Hamilton

Wil Anderson

January’s highlight was definitely seeing Wil Anderson and Justin Hamilton in a theatre full of excited fans. Both consummate comedians at the top of their game.  Am determined to see Wil’s solo show this year and looking forward to it. I’ve been missing seeing Justin around the traps since he moved to Sydney but am hoping to see more of Wil Anderson, now he’s taken a job in Melbourne breakfast radio.

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette April 6 

Hannah Gadsby

Hannah’s final festival show was indeed a showstopper. It was a show about the Zeitgeist, about equal rights, about truth – in life and in comedy, about standing up and being listened to. It was powerful, moving and of course funny. A masterpiece of Standup. During her interview on Comedian’s Comedian at MICF, Stuart Goldsmith shrewdly asked what would happen if this amazing show won all the awards, like The Barry and even the Edinburgh Fringe Best Comedy award?

Would she still quit comedy? Well all of those predictions have come to pass (including a Helpmann Award along the way) and Hannah is still going strong. Having sold out many shows at the Victorian Arts Centre and The Sydney Opera House she is adding further shows this month to the Opera House, followed by Perth and then a month from February in London at the Soho Theatre. They are selling out.

All comedians should go out on this sort of high. The world is her oyster and she’s certainly making the most of it all. Whatever she chooses to do next, I wish her all the happiness.

My review: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=11198

Craig Ferguson

Craig Ferguson – The Craig Ferguson Show, Gilded Balloon @ Rose Theatre, Edinburgh. August 7 

Craig Ferguson’s quirky tonight show was a staple in our house and I’m missing his Peabody Award winning interviewing style on late night TV. I’ve been hoping he might at least tour his standup comedy here in Australia, as he has happy memories of performing here in the 80s (as do I), but sadly there is no sign of this, especially as he is now busily hosting a successful drive time radio show. Craig decided to record some of his radio shows live from Edinburgh, taking advantage of all of the gathered performers from around the world to appear as guests, and all of the Squirrels were lucky enough to attend in the wee hours of the Festival. The Rose is a lovely old theatre in the New Town with a great atmosphere and the packed audience had an awesome time.  The live radio broadcast lasted for 2 hours and consisted of two very entertaining in-depth chats with performers who were often old friends of Craig. In our case an old close friend impressionist/comedian Jan Ravens and Scottish writer Iain Rankin. Ron later saw the show with guests Daniel Sloss and Tommy Tiernan and Craig had Aunty Donna on the show towards the end of the run. Its a pity there is no podcasts of these recordings and that the radio show is not broadcast outside of the Americas.

Childproof the Podcast Recording at The Bella Union Bar, Carlton. September 20-22 

Tony Martin, Cristina Laria, Damian Cowel, Roz Hammond, Gerraldine Quinn

Episodes 1 to 6 over three nights – written by Tony Martin & Serina Rowell

Performed by Tony Martin, Geraldine Quinn, Roz Hammond, Andrew McClelland, Damian Cowell, Lachy Hulme, Djovan Caro, Simon Rogers, Casey Bennetto, Serina Rowell, Cristina Laria, Sam Petersen and Jay Mueller as the Narrator.

A brilliant sitcom in 6 episodes about a couple who chooses to be childless while they navigate the changing, diminishing, modern workplace in radio and book publishing and their changing, diminishing friendships as their friends succumb to parenthood and all that entails. The episodes are easily as entertaining & funny as other recent Australian ABC comedies, so it’s surprising that they were knocked back for Television broadcast. The talented performers were all having a ball playing the various characters and Jay Mueller made a brilliant honey tongued Narrator. This was a unique and special experience this year.

These shows were recorded for podcasting and so you can listen to them all here.

Tessa Waters and Laura Davis

Frocking Hilarious at The Comedy Theatre, Melbourne. November 17th 

Denise Scott, Cal Wilson, Fiona O’Loughlin, Anne Edmonds, Celia Pacquoa, Demi Ladner, Tessa Waters, Laura Davis, Kelly Fastuca, Geraldine Quinn, Double Denim.

A fundraiser for Action Aid curated by the inimitable comedy goddess Janet A Mcleod. All of the performers brought their A Game and there was not a weak spot on the night. It really felt like a Comedy Gala and we were all pretty privileged to be there laughing our arses off. Great to have a majority of women in the audience too. It wasn’t just some of the best Australian women in comedy it was some of the best Australian comedy on stage.

 

LISA’S LIVE COMEDY BIG YEAR 2017 – http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?page_id=10666

RECOMMENDED AND PREVIOUSLY REVIEWED SHOWS AT MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL 2017

By Lisa Clark & Colin Flaherty

The 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival is back bigger than ever and the Squirrels are here to help you chose which shows to spend your money and time on. There are shows that we have already seen and also some intriguing shows that have piqued our interest.

PREVIOUSLY REVIEWED

A number of MICF shows have run prior to the festival and we have already reviewed some of these. We’ll give the usual disclaimer that Festival shows are ever evolving beasts, so the show’s we have covered may have undergone changes (hopefully for the better!) since we saw them.

Alanta Colley Parasites Lost

Alanta Colley
Alanta Colley

Lisa reviewed her at the 2016 Melbourne Fringe: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=10549

You can book at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/parasites-lost

Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night

This is Lisa’s review from last year: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=9937

Book your tickets at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/ali-mcgregor

ApocOlympics

Here’s Colin’s review from the 2016 Melbourne Fringe: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=10580

Booking details are at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/apocolympics

Cindy Salmon’s Empowerment Hour by Hayley Tantau

cindy-salmon-empowerment-hour
Cindy Salmon

Here’s Elyce’s review at the 2016 Meloburne Fringe: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=10575

Booking details are at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/cindy-salmon-s-empowerment-hour

Cull

Read Colin’s review from the 2016 Melbourne Fringe: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=10470

Bookings details can be found at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/cull

Gabe Hogan:  Making Life a Double

Lisa’s review from the 2016 Melbourne Fringe is at http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=10491

Bookings details are at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/making-life-a-double

Isabel Angus Presents Bliss

Here’s Lisa’s review of the 2016 Melbourne Fringe performance: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=10515

Bookings can be made at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/isabel-angus-presents-bliss

Late Night Letters and Numbers

This late night show was reviewed in 2013 by Lisa: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3846

Booking details can be found at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/late-night-letters-and-numbers

Mighty Little Puppet Show 

Mighty Little Puppet Show
Mighty Little Puppet Show

The 2016 MICF show was reviewed by Lisa is: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=9929

Book your tickets at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/the-might-little-puppet-show

Political Asylum 

A now annual fixture of MICF, Elice’s review is here: http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3785

Bookings can be made at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/political-asylum-s-late-night-riot

Soothsayers: Completely Improvised Shakespeare

Lisa’s review from the 2015 Melbourne Fringe is here” http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=9433

Booking details are at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/completely-improvised-shakespeare

RECOMMENDED

The Bugle Live

This is the first ever live version of Andy Zaltzman’s podcast. It promises live guests, people on screens, freshly-hewn satire, lies, puns and high-grade bullshit. Sounds like tonnes of fun. (You can see his own standup show too, sold separately)

Bookings: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/the-bugle-live

Daniel Kitson… 

Daniel Kitson

The last time Daniel performed here in 2015 it was with his astonishing, gorgeous, experimental play Polyphony. It involved 20 pre-recorded characters (played by actors and comedians) on MP3players being played by audience members. I was lucky enough to see it towards the end of the run, on a night when it all ran beautifully and it blew my mind. If audience participation was the comedy trend, Daniel fashioned it into couture art. We’ve missed out on a lot of his finished shows in Melbourne over the past ten years but he’s making up for it by giving us Three types of Kitson, including a filmed show we never got to see.

1. Stories For The Starlit Sky with Gavin Osbourne

Actually 3 plays in one (of his 3 shows). It will be long, why not bring a packed lunch? 3 of his delightful heartwarming and funny stories from Daniel with Gavin on the Guitar.

Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne – 2nd to 23rd April
(Various Dates and Times) https://goo.gl/AVrCLX

2. Not Yet But Soon – A Work in Progress Stand up Show.

Well its another work in Progress, but having done it in Sydney before Melbourne it should be fairly well formed. An hour and a half, but knowing Daniel probably longer. Its mostly on late too, 10 pm so have a little nap during the day.

Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne – March 30th to April 16th  (Various dates and times)- https://goo.gl/bry3Tv

3. It’s Always Right Now Until It’s Later –  On Film

A 7 year old show we never got to see in Australia, but here it is preserved forever on film and Daniel will be there to introduce it.

 Palace Westgarth Northcote – April 18th, 19th  – 7pmhttps://goo.gl/jVA2N3

Infectious

A comedy night for charity produced by our own Erin Davidson and we can promise you she has organised a cracker of a lineup. Names she cannot name, but some of the top names in Australian comedy and this may be the only place during the festival you get to see some of them. Also you get to laugh for a good cause.

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/a-night-of-infectious-laughter-2

Josh Earl's Festival
Josh Earl’s Festival

Josh Earl & Daniel Tobias: Josh Earl’s Festival   

Josh has hooked up with Daniel from Die Roten Punkte and they promise famous guest stars in this mini comedy music festival. I’ve had a bit of a taste of this one and it has got my mouth watering for more.

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/josh-earl-s-festival-1

Michael Williams: Escape from a 90s Educational CD-ROM!

One of the recipients of this year’s Moosehead Grants, you can always be rely upon Williams to present an inventive and hilarious show. Last year he was one of our favourites, with the added Moosehead creative seal of approval, this is sure to be a doozy!

Bookings: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/escape-from-a-90s-educational-cd-rom

Sammy J: Hero Complex 

Sammy J Hero Complex
Sammy J Hero Complex

Hero Complex was the Talk of Melbourne Fringe and the talk was: “Have you Seen it? You HAVE TO SEE IT!!!” We were so glad we did. It won Best Comedy Show at Melbourne Fringe 2016 and has just won the first Weekly Award for comedy at Adelaide Fringe 2017. It is side achingly hilarious, and face hurtingly joyous. It’s better to go in knowing as little as possible; yes it is about Sammy J’s love for The Phantom but also about much, much more.

Bookings: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/hero-complex

A Visit With Nan In A Caravan

Five audience members ­– in one caravan ­– with three spiteful old grannies ­– for 15 minutes. These terrifying characters by Thomas Jaspers, Kyle Minall and Scott Brennan will be more so in such close quarters and sure to be hilarious.

Bookings: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/caravan

Watson: Go To Hell!

After scaring the stuffing out of laughing audiences at the Old Melbourne Gaol during the 2015 Melbourne Fringe, Watson (Adam McKenzie, Liam Ryan and Tegan Higginbotham) return with a show of frights and laughs. Another Moosehead recipent so expectations are high.

Bookings: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/go-to-hell

View the entire Comedy Festival program at https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017, so get out and start booking tickets!

 

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 Fringe Festival – Awards and Wrap Up

By Lisa Clark 

We’ve had a wonderful Melbourne Fringe Festival which was full of all things creative and wacky including, a show in a car (Equal Best Performance Winner: Dion), a shop window (Winner of Best Ideas and Words Award: Between Two Lines) and one in a huge space with only two audience members (Equal Best Performance Winner: Blindspot). We here at Squirrel Comedy are mostly interested in Comedy. That’s not to say that we didn’t see funny shows in other catagories or that there were some rather unfunny shows that found their way into the Comedy section, but, hey this is Melbourne Fringe and it’s all about mixing it up and taking risks. sammy-j-award-winner

Congratulations must first go to Best Comedy winner Sammy J who has created his Opus Magnus in Hero Complex. A work that had everyone who headed out to the Northcote Town Hall to see it howling with laughter, cheering and crying with pure joy. I saw a lot of great shows at the festival but could not imagine any I missed were better than this – in any category – and couldn’t be happier with its Best Comedy Award win. An autobiographical show with a sprinkling of his brilliant comedy songs and a lot of surprises that must be kept secret, making it difficult to review. Except to say that it is a celebration of unpopular nerdy passions, in this case comic book hero The Phantom, but of course it’s about much, much more. Look out for it at Melbourne International Comedy Festival and other Festivals no doubt, just don’t miss it.

Winner of the Queensland Tour Ready Award was another stunning autobiographical comedy; Isamofarcist by Sami Shah who’s come to Melbourne from Afghanistan via studying in the USA and living in Western Australia. Sami has been doing excellent stand up around Melbourne for the past year about religion, politics and other dangerous ideas in a very accessible, warm and hilarious way. A comedian who’s definitely worth going out of your way to see if you like your comedy smart. Queenslanders can look forward to seeing Isamofarcist  next.

More congratulations to one of the hot tickets at this year’s Melbourne Fringe Andre Tonight! by Chris Ryan and special secret guests that had everyone whispering that this was a must see. It won The Discovery Award and was a discovery to everyone who managed to get seats in the Rehearsal room (now with raked seating). Chris’s character reminded me of an Epping based Norman Gunston, a beautifully rounded sad sack character with a dream to be a TV Tonight Show host and some of his dreams came true in Andre Tonight! Another show to look forward to when it pops up again.

A Squirrel discovery at Melbourne Fringe was another amazingly strong character comedy Cindy Salmon’s Empowerment Hour. The show is a send up of an American “empowering” daytime TV host such as Tyra Banks or Bethenny Frankel (the 2nd rate Oprahs). Hayley Tantau’s, Cindy Salmon is one of the most powerful high status creations on the Australian stage right now. A high status character that can be hilariously satirical, wildly inspiring, teetering on the monstrous and yet somehow sympathetic is rare among current female comedians (I can think of Sarah Ward’s Yanna Alana and Queenie Van de Zandt’s Jan Van de Stool). Hayley pulls it off; sustaining it for a full hour without dropping her perfect American accent once, while keeping the audience on side despite some hilariously appalling behaviour. Go see comedy Cindy Salmon’s Empowerment Hour if it pops up near you and we’ll be keeping an eye on Hayley Tantau.

Here are some of the Award Winners that might interest our readers:

Best Comedy:

Sammy J – Hero Complex

QLD Tour Ready Award, supported by Brisbane Powerhouse:

ISLAMOFARCIST by Sami Sha

The Discovery Award, supported by Melbourne Festival:

Andre Tonight! by Chris Ryan

NSW Tour Ready Award, supported by Sydney Fringe:

Tina Del Twist GOLD CLASS by Wes Snelling

Best Venue:

Hare Hole – Hares & Hyenas

For a Full List of Awards presented by the Melbourne Fringe Festival see their website

https://melbournefringe.com.au/news/story/melbourne-fringe-2016-award-winners

Interview with Randy

By Daniel Paproth

It has been a great year for Randy, the beloved, foul-mouthed, purple-hued comedian and singer. The musical sitcom that he filmed with good mate Sammy J, the brilliant Rickett’s Lane, is doing good numbers on ABC iView and is soon to be premiered on television and he is enjoying performing his latest solo show, Randy Writes a Novel, to big crowds at Fringe festivals around the country.

Still, the ennui of regular life remains.

What are you doing today? I ask him down the phone.

Just about to put out the washing, comes a deceitfully enthusiastic reply.

His novel is written, but in his show, he can never quite work up the courage to read it aloud. Instead he procrastinates and distracts himself for an hour with several impressive, well-researched and hilarious rants and raves.

I love this show. It basically is just me saying what I want to say for an hour. I wrote this show as a catharsis, which sounds a bit wanky, but Sammy and I had just finished shooting Rickett’s Lane and this was a way of cutting loose, not being confined by a certain style of scripting.

Randy Writes a Novel is wonderfully self-indulgent, and thankfully, the rants – whether they be about McDonalds, relationships, drinking, not drinking, veganism, fist-fucking, religion, art – have the audience in stitches (apologies to Randy for this very poor pun).

That’s when I’m having my most amount of fun. When I started comedy I did a lot of political, hardcore, opinionated stuff and I was very angry and never quite got the balance right. But now I’ve mellowed quite a lot, to the point where I can strike a balance.

But part of the appeal of Randy’s shows is that strong-willed attitude, one that leaves you in no doubt where he stands.

There’s a bit of grit, The ultimate is being able to talk about stuff and share things and have an opinion on it without it going downhill.

It’s dependant on the audience. If they’re not up for it then it goes a bit skewed, if they think I’m being a dick. But then I acknowledge it! And then we can all fucking move on together. I fucking love it.

Randy, as something of an archetypal “struggling artist”, took inspiration from Ernest Hemingway, in particular his quote “the first draft of everything is shit”. Randy devotes a breathless three-minute portion of the show to the whims and wonders of Hemingway’s life, a sort of pseudo-google search but with more laughs and less data collection.

It’s not hard to uncover his life, but he’s an interesting case study of a tortured artist. He was a bit fucked up. And it was that quote that made me look into him more.

What about delivering the spiel live to audiences?

I had to learn the speech and that took fucking ages. I have out-of-body experiences reeling that off.

So even though he isn’t yet ready to read out his novel –

I don’t know if I’ll release it, I might not make it that far, I might only live a few more years!

Randy is finding plenty of joy “in the immediate”.

I’m doing whatever is giving me joy now. That’s this show and the TV show, which I love. It’s just so fucking stupid. When I grew up I was a huge Young Ones fan and Sammy loved Lano & Woodley so it’s great to have a show with so much silliness.

Randy then realises that ours has been something of a serious interview and so asks what I am doing today. I tell him I’m about to go to Ivanhoe, seeking elderly people to photograph for a column I write for another publication.

Maybe that could be my next thing. I’ll write your autobiography, he tells me. It might not be a funny book, just a chilling expose of your lifestyle choices.

I’d definitely read it. Randy is funny as all hell.

Randy Writes a Novel has finished its run at Melbourne Fringe but check out Randy’s Sitcom with his partner in comedy Sammy J – Ricketts Lane which is currently available on Iview and will be appearing on ABCTV from October 14 2015.

Randy Writes A Novel

By Daniel Paproth Randy-Writes-a-Novel

Most everyone who has even a passing interest in comedy knows Randy – the purple, foul-mouthed, philosophic puppet that has long accompanied Sammy J on his adventures and misadventures – most brilliantly in their new ABC TV show Rickett’s Lane. But few might be aware at how well Randy holds the attention of a room flying solo.

At a packed Lithuanian Club Ballroom on Sunday night Randy held sway over the audience, making us laugh, squirm, applaud and even sit on the edge of our seats, waiting to see which direction this 60+ minute show would turn next. The loose premise is that Randy, something of a struggling artist, has written a novel, and here, in front of this crowd, he will read it aloud to us. Except, he just can’t quite get going. Writing can be quite personal, and it appears Randy isn’t yet ready to spill his heart out in front of people. So what, then, becomes of the show?

Luckily, all the rants and raves smashing around in that purple head of Randy’s that he uses to procrastinate from reading his novel are brilliant – hilarious, whip-smart, quick-witted and impressively well-researched. After swiftly dealing with some would-be hecklers – including one fellow Fringe artist in the front row (“Did you pay to see this show or did you use your artist pass?” “My artist pass” “Ohh get fucked”) Randy delves into the maddening complaints of the bourgeoisie; from buying up land in inner-city suburbs (“Docklands can suck a fuck”) to meat-eaters who condescendingly provide “some fun facts” for vegetarians and vegans as to why their dietary choices must suck. Other hilarious detours include the benefits of being pulled over for drink-driving as a tee-totaller, McDonald’s home delivery, the tenets of Buddhism packed into about two minutes and the life of Ernest Hemingway into about three minutes (Hemingway’s “the first draft of everything is shit” being one of the show’s inspiration points).

It is a strange experience watching only a puppet for an hour. I have seen plenty of comedy over the years but nothing quite like this – and it is a testament to Randy that after about two or three minutes you forget that it is a puppet, such is the skill. Robust facial and body expressions abound and at many points you just feel like you’re in a conversation with your overly-enthusiastic, curse-happy friend. Swearing in comedy shows is of course hit-and-miss, but it’s all hit here. There is something inherently funny about an alien-looking purple puppet casually, effortlessly dropping f- and c-bombs around.

The show could use tightening. The rants – while well-researched and well-delivered – threaten to go on to long and put the show into something of a lull, and the search for a resonant emotional ending doesn’t quite hit the mark, but it matters little with a very strong penultimate scene about Randy picking up a bookcase through Gumtree. Highly Recommended.

Randy Writes A Novel is on til Sept 25 so get in quick!

For tickets & Info

https://www.melbournefringe.com.au/program/event/view/d1560223-482a-4a54-9fb0-7d3cde5724ff