The last time we saw The Fringe Wives Club they were a cheeky trio of Victoria Falconer, Tessa Waters and Rowena Hutson. Everyone who saw them was blown away, they seemed to be bourne out of the zeitgeist of the feminist movement who had had enough, but also fun, sexy, and very consensual. They won best Cabaret show at Adelaide Fringe and the Spirit of the Fringe Award at Edinburgh Fringe in 2018. This year they have been joined by Laura Frew (of Double Denim – she’s rushing between shows at different venues on her bicycle!) and Sharnema Nougar, as well as a couple of back up musicians and they’ve gone Bluegrass.
The Fringe Wives Club have been around the block or two and know their stuff. They are all very accomplished in the cabaret and comedy world and each are revered in their own right, coming together, they have created a powerhouse of a show. The harmonies are gorgeous, banter is a hoot and they all get their moment to shine.
Glittergrass is a sassy celebration of talented women with an underlying rage. The Grrrls are fierce but then not afraid to have a laugh and sympathise with the audience about how difficult it can be to own your privilege and deal with the changing language and the complex politics. In between the songs, some original, some gorgeous covers, they exchange stories and banter that often, ironically, reveal subtle social behaviors that repress women.
Last year’s show Glittery Clittery felt like a secret, naughty, subversive, raucous, feminist club where it was safe to gather and share our joy and anger with original songs that spoke of the modern woman’s experience in a bold, fresh way and had us in tears of laughter and sadness. Glittergrass is still furious feminist cabaret but feels a little more mainstream. Not that there’s anything wrong with an accessible show. Bring your family they’ll laugh their buts off with you while learning about lady bush rangers and 3rd Wave Intersectional Feminism.
Fringe Wives Club perform Glittergrass at The Coopers Malthouse
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 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 Wilat The Comedy Theatre, Melbourne. January 22
Lineup: Wil Anderson, Supported by Justin Hamilton
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’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.
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
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.
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.
1. If you’ve had a shit day and need an explosion of joy and non-stop lols on your face
2. If you like sequins and dance floor bangers
3. If you wanna see your house party ‘adventure’ from last Saturday night played out on stage
4. If you wanna make out with me (*not during the show obvs, but like in life and stuff, whatever it’s cool..no biggie)
5. If you like comedy that feels like; eating a delicious cake, followed by excellent sex where it’s hot but you also laugh with each other and feel really cool, capped off with a tequila shot and a fun and consensual smack on the bum.
Tessa Waters performs Fully Sik at The Greek Centre
Tessa Waters is a stunning physical performer, I have previously loved her in her debut solo Comedy Festival show How to Be a Lady (2010) and in the impressive Sexytime (2011) with Kai Smythe, a celebration of sex which I raved about to anyone who’d listen. She’s been honing her skills while living in the UK and her clowning/dance solo show Womanz has won her acclaim and many awards including best Comedy at Melbourne Fringe. I could not have been more excited to see her triumphant return to Australia, but unfortunately I found it a bit too patchy.
Womanz has an incredibly strong opening with an over the top Creation Story that gives a back story to Tessa’s character she calls Womanz. It was a pity that Tessa’s self-described “Dance Spectacular” couldn’t stay at this level of awesomeness throughout. There seemed to be an enormous amount of faffing about. This began after the intro when she started moving the audience about into different seats. I ended up in a more uncomfortable spot squashed against a cold wall with poor sightlines and was so stressed it took quite a while for me to get my mind back on the show.
There also seems to be way too much time between the major dance set pieces where she just stalked the stage staring at the audience saying ‘what’s happening’. Her charming, forceful personality could only push this so far before it became a bit dull. ‘Are you Bored?’ she asked me. She’d noticed. It was impossible for me to be honest but now I can say, actually I was a bit. She worked hard to win me back and did to a point, because I genuinely like and admire her talent, but the show itself just did not have that special something that I’d hoped for and, considering all the awards & hype, had kind of expected.
This could have been a really hilarious exploration of being a brave brassy woman and most of her dance numbers went close to this but instead it was a handful of often very funny dance numbers with a lot of empty space in between. It could be that Tessa having an off night, but some sort of script that suited her well thought-out dance numbers would’ve made things whizz by a bit more smoothly. The show led up to a dance class where she got all the audience on their feet and learning some classic moves. Audience members were encouraged to share their own moves with us and Tessa took us through an enjoyable dance class which everyone could approach at their own level. Encouragement without any pressure was appreciated and it was a lot of fun.
If you are up for a gorgeous woman in a splendiferous spangled corset sharing the joy of her body of work with you this could be a great night out. With a touch more work this would be great show to take a group of girlfriends and some glasses of bubbly to. A comical celebration of dance and womanhood with sparkle and spice. Just let the worries of the weekend go and give in to the rhythm.
Tessa Waters – Womanz is on at Melbourne Town Hall in the Lunchroom.
For bookings and information see the MICF website:
It’s the last Saturday night of Fringe so it must be Fringe Awards Night. We’re very pleased and excited to announce that the Winner of Best Comedy catagory is Watson for their comedy Horror show Who’s Afraid of The Dark which was set in Melbourne Gaol. Watson are mostly Tegan Higginbotham and Adam McKenzie, this time Liam Ryan also had a large role, then there was the large cast of ghastly ghouls…. Genuinely frightening and seriously funny. Well Done!!
Congratulations also go to the talented and hilarious Tessa Waters who’s show Womanz won Three awards! They were given by Brisbane Powerhouse, Adelaide Fringe and Perth World Fringe. Tessa developed this show while living overseas and it looks like more travel is on the cards.
More congratulations to all involved in Bucket’s List for winning the Tiki Tour Ready Award from Aukland. Esp to Sarah Collins, Justin Kennedy and Rhys Auteri for their gorgeous, sweet and whimsical little show. Have fun in New Zealand!
Other related catagory congratulations go to Bethany Simons and Peter de Jager who won Best Cabaret for their “original, hilarious and wonderfully honest” Reception the Musical.
We were also rapt to see the Courthouse Hotel win The Best Venue Award. We saw a lot of great comedy there over Fringe, and ate some yummy food.
Congratulations to all the winners and everyone who put their hearts and souls into giving us a fantastic 2014 Fringe Festival.
For More information about this year’s Award Winners checkout the Fringe Website