Tom Gleeson – Cheer Up

By Elyce Phillip Tom Gleeson - Cheer Up pic

Game show host and comedic sidekick Tom Gleeson returns to MICF this year with Cheer Up, a show presumably titled as a reminder to Gleeson once he wanders off-stage, because it certainly had nothing to do with the show’s content. It’s a meandering hour of twaddle, generously padded with audience banter that probably appeals to Gleeson’s fans, whoever they are.

I’d not been to one of Gleeson’s solo shows before because I am a fan of comedy. However, I crossed paths with this bloated thumb in a shirt on Hard Quiz – a show where he insults members of the public on the taxpayer’s dime – and as the saying goes, “Revenge is best served via a bitter, needlessly cruel review by a volunteer comedy critic on the internet”.

Hi, Tom. I know you’re reading this. It’s time to review you – HARD.

Gleeson’s brand of competent stand-up covers a lot of the usual topics. He’s got kids. They like annoying kids’ TV. He’s got a wife who thinks he’s boring. They argue sometimes. He owns whitegoods. Isn’t customer service crap? There’s nothing revelatory here. The final story is perhaps the most interesting thing in the show, and that’s probably because it relates a tale that Gleeson wasn’t even involved in.

The tone of the show is deadpan and vindictive. Most of the stories boil down to Gleeson hating someone or other. There’s an ease to his delivery, which makes sense. Gleeson has been doing this for a long time and is just continuing to do more of the same. He should be good at it by now. Instead, we get a laundry list of his grievances and a literal story about him watching laundry dry. Speaking of laundry, how about putting a little effort into your appearance, Tom? You look like you’re about to pop down to dad rock night at your local RSL to get yourself the cheapest possible parma and bob your egg-like conk to a bit of Steely Dan.

This show is the comedy equivalent of five-minute noodles. Sure, it looks like a meal, but it’s unsatisfying and there’s no effort put into it. If you’re into basic stand-up performed by a middle-aged man in dress jeans, go and see Cheer Up, I guess. You’d better be quick, though, as Gleeson is only bothering to do six shows, two of which he cranked out on the same day.

– Ed’s Note: Jeez Elyce, you lose once on Hard Quiz and all reviewer’s objectivity flies out the window….

Tom Gleeson – Cheer Up is on at the Comedy Theatre until April 22

Tom Gleeson

By Luke SimmonsTom Gleeson

With years of working in the Australian media and on the standup circuit, you know what you’re in for when you watch Tom Gleeson perform. A tightly written hour of brilliant standup comedy.

Gleeson got off on the right foot by warming up the crowd with some funny banter with the poor souls that made the rookie mistake of sitting in his line of sight at the front. He’s not afraid of starting with a little back and forth with the crowd as a way of reassuring everyone that he knows what he’s doing on the stage.

As he got into his show, he made it clear that family would be a key theme of his show with the announcement that he’d just added a new baby boy to his family.  When he’s not working in comedy, he’s clearly a dedicated family man and discussed slice-of-life issues almost everyone could relate to. He also brings his extended family into the mix and it’s worth the ticket price of the show alone, if you just sit through the riveting story relating to his mathematician brother.

He’s a gifted storyteller meaning that he’s able to set the scene, engaging the audience, before switching on his comic hat and finishing with the punchline. Be prepared for a bit of blue language in the mix which adds some power to his punchlines. He had the audience laughing throughout the hour long show so they didn’t seem to mind.

Tom Gleeson can sell a show with his name alone. He is a polished performer at the top of his game, and will no doubt continue to be a staple in the Australian comedy diet for years to come.

Tom Gleeson is performing in the Lower Town Hall until April 19

I love Green Guide Letters with Steele Saunders

By Lisa Clark

Let’s start with The Green Guide. It’s a weekly newspaper magazine about television, radio and technology and astronomy (for some inexplicable but delightful reason) but mostly about television in Melbourne’s The Age newspaper. The Letters to The Green Guide are from the public about television and radio, but mostly about television and mostly about ABC public television. I Love Green Guide Letters is a weekly podcast by Melbourne comedian Steele Saunders about the Green Guide Letters, which he loves, despite not watching many of the actual television shows that the letters are about. Steele usually has two comedian or celebrity guests on to discuss the letters with him and everyone has a lot of fun. The podcast has become very popular, even outside of Melbourne where they have no access to the Green Guide and this has a lot to do with the work Steele has put in to make it so much fun to listen to.

Steele has built a culture around the podcast of running gags about the Green Guide Letters and he has rules that his guests and listeners must obey; 1. Listeners will not send letters into the Green Guide just to have them read out on the podcast. 2. Steele will read the letters out in a high pitched, silly voice and 3. There is no talking allowed by guests during the reading of the letters. It helps add structure to what might otherwise be an excuse for comedians to get together and have a laugh and makes it feel like a special club.

This is the fourth time I’ve been to a live recording of I Love Green Guide Letters and they are always great fun, probably because everyone loves talking about television. The comedians not only have their own favourite shows to talk about but many have been on TV with their own fascinating behind the scenes experiences to share. They come on the podcast knowing that Steele is going to find some letters to read out about them or the shows they have been on. This can occasionally make for uncomfortable listening from some of the guests but he generally tries to find something nice as well as the usual negative letter. The guests for the first recorded episode of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival were Tom Gleeson, Pete Hellier and Dave Thornton and they worked well together.

If you are a fan of Steele’s podcast, then being in the audience at least once is a must, if only for the visual gags, like Pete’s framed gift for Steele apologising for his character being accidentally cut from the credit list at the end of the episode of It’s a Date that he was in and Pete and Tom’s stage whispering to each other in a huddle about Steele & Dave going on too much about the fun time they had together at the Meredith Music Festival. If you’ve never heard the podcast before this is a great chance to join in the fun and find out what it’s all about.

I love Green Guide Letters is on at the Swanston Hotel (note the venue change!) until April 19

Listen to I Love Green Guide Letters on iTunes or the website

Tom Gleeson’s Hello Bitches

By Luke Simmons

Tom Gleeson has been the staple in the Australian comedy diet throughout the last 10 years and this night’s performance demonstrated that he’s currently on the top of his game.  Rather than calling his show Hello Bitches, he could easily have called it, “I’m getting old!!!”

The night started with a lengthy and entertaining session of banter with the crowd.   Many performers would not choose to open with this, but Gleeson’s a quick thinker and turned even the most mundane of nuggets of crowd input into laughs.

Without a hint of jealousy, he started by targeting hipsters who have the audacity to wear their hair long on top – when he’s clearly a bit patchy in that area.  To Gleeson’s credit, he’s able to take the piss out of his aging body and sexual prowess (or lack thereof) in a charming sort of way.

Anyone who can draw a parallel between changing nappies and strippers without drawing groans is to be commended.  And a certain DIY technique that some strippers (perhaps) perform on themselves proved to bring out the loudest laughs throughout the show.

Things then got a bit philosophical as he outlined his views of the afterlife (see: none) and how much he loves the church (see: sarcasm).  He presents his case from a logical viewpoint and, based on the crowd reaction, he had everyone except for one on his side.  Yes, there was a solitary walk out when he took aim at Christianity.  Their loss.

After a pseudo ending, he returned to the stage for a long and disjointed feedback session with the crowd.  Sensing the quietness in the air, he then closed strongly with an agonising tale about his baby’s immunisation.

For the vast majority of the show, Gleeson had the audience laughing at volume.  Although he’s getting older, there’s plenty of funny stuff left in this performer.


Tom Gleeson’s Hello Bitches at the Melbourne Town Hall

Tom Gleeson – Good One

By Andrew Holmes, 

I’ve seen Tom Gleeson perform at the MICF for the last few years and he never fails to seriously entertain. His latest effort “Good One” is up there with some of the best he’s delivered in his special exuberant way which makes it so hilarious.

As per the usual Gleeson show, current affairs are given a fair spray with Politics and TV in general being the focal. You can often get an overload of this type of “Seinfeld-esque” humour but Tom really does throw himself into the show with his venting about everyday life and passionate delivery which keeps it fresh and entertaining.

This was great for the first 15 odd minutes but then the next segment of stories and jokes about recently becoming a Dad and the behavioural anomalies of his daughter did get a bit tiring.
Congratulations on becoming a Dad Tom! But for those in the audience that haven’t headed down this path yet, 15 minutes of the routine given over to this topic was more than a few of us wanted to deal with. Maybe I just want a few surprises.

After this, Gleeson picks up a paper and starts reading an article. It was a bit left field but as the story unfolded it all became clear and the show ends on a brilliant high that I’m pretty sure no-one saw coming. I won’t get into it here as you need to see the surprise to really appreciate it.

Besides the show being a bit disjointed, it was some classic Gleeson that keeps you coming back each year for more. I’m guessing next year will involve some more Daughter stories but I can forgive him for that.

Tom Gleeson is performing “Good One” nightly during the festival between the Victoria Hotel and the Lower Town Hall.

The Shelf season 1, 2011.

By Lisa Clark

To Celebrate our Featured Podcast we are republishing a room review of The Shelf from it’s Debut at The Toff in Town.

Melbourne has a fabulously healthy live comedy scene with venues offering comedians for all tastes, from the nervous newcomers to the polished stars. Four months ago Melbourne comedy legend Dave O’Neil started up his Comedy Funhouse in Fairfield and now two other stalwarts have opened up a weekly room, for the month of October at least, and have their own fun.

These two are Fabulous Adam Richards, gossip bitch of top rating breakfast radio show The Matt & Jo Show,and Justin Hamilton, currently a movie reviewer for breakfast at Mix FM in Perth but cherished as Australia’s best stand-up comedian who isn’t a household name. They seem like an unlikely pair of mates, but apart from both being astute experienced comedians they are geeky fanboys at heart and have obviously created a place where they can put on a show in their own terms and have some fun with friends.

So what is The Shelf and how is it different to the established rooms about town? For starters it has a team of regulars joining Hamilton and Richards: Steven ‘Gatesy’ Gates of Tripod, Tegan Higginbotham of The Hounds and relative newcomer European Man (Ted Wilson). The evening is separated into three distinct brackets, the first is a bit of a mix of chat, stand-up and music, the second a full long set from a headlining guest and the third a live trivia gameshow.

The first section on opening night begins with Hamilton providing a searing set about his recent shenanigans touring New Zealand with Greg Fleet, as well as introducing the evening and co-host Richards. Hamilton is fairly renowned as one of the best comedy MCs in the country and is the perfect host, clearly excited by his new enterprise.

The first guest is rising star Celia Pacquola, home from her new digs in London, her stand up just gets better and better as she becomes more assured about her work. Pacquola has a delightfully quirky edge to her comedy that always adds surprises to her warm, friendly style. She endears herself to the home crowd, which tonight is full of friends and comedy geeks, with tales about how she’s having fun in the UK using her Australian openness to freak out the Pommies.

Next up is a bit of a historical moment in Australian comedy, the first ever solo spot by Gatesy from Tripod. The highlight, which is going to be a weekly feature is his ‘Non Topical’ song where Gatesy sings a song that has been topical in the past, but is not now. Tonight’s song is about Stuart Diver being rescued. It was a bit shaky, but his experience at working an adoring crowd got him through.

The second bracket is pure nonstop Tom Gleeson, currently starring in Good News World and fresh from Edinburgh, where hecklers quickly learned that Tom is not to be messed with. In fact the bulk of his material was about how his hair-raising experiences at boarding school made him impervious to persecution. Tom is in top form, like a thoroughbred during the Spring Racing Carnival he sprints out of the gates with the crowd roaring, and is magnificent to behold.

The final segment is the least polished, which is part of its charm. A mini game show hosted by Richards, with team captains Hamilton and Higginbotham with a guest each, Pacquola and Gleeson. The trivia questions are about things found on the shelf: books, DVDs, CDs or games etc. Helping Richards are European Man and Gatsey, who provides the clues through song.

The room itself is set up in cabaret style with small tables. Toff in Town has hosted many legendary comedy nights including Tripod’s Pod August Nights and Asher Treleaven’s Oyster Club. On this night, I couldn’t recommend the bar as everyone on our table had bad experiences with service. A more positive aspect is that you can book your seat and know in advance that you will get in, which is important for a room with a limited run and popular line-ups.

There is nothing revolutionary about The Shelf, it reminds me a little of Hessie’s Shed by Crowded House’s Paul Hester which was a series of high quality live comedy and music with a trivia quiz at the end hosted by Brian Nankervis. That quiz went on to become Rockwiz on SBS, so who knows maybe ‘The comedy show you’ll never see on TV’ as The Shelf is describes itself, will somehow end up there anyway

Originally published in Chortle.Au on 7th October 2011

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