Adam McKenzie – Laser Light

By Lisa Clark  

Adam McKenzie has been one third of the phenomenal sketch team Watson for many years now and it’s been too long since he has done a solo festival show. Because it’s an Adam McKenzie show, you know it’s going to be somewhat nerdy and Laser Light has a lot of Star Trek references. If you don’t have any knowledge of Star Trek, that’s OK because most people have some connection with its main theme of lasers….sorry….cancer.

I first saw Adam do standup about his bowel cancer, not long after it all happened, at Local Laughs StKilda. He was so raw, because the experience was so raw and close. The room was electric and Adam had everyone laughing and crying. I’m not surprised he’s stepped back a little from doing that sort of Festival Show. It would be pretty harrowing seven nights a week during a festival. Unsurprisingly, Adam has decided to go down a slightly more theatrical path with a parallel Trekker plot of being attacked by The Borg. They make a brilliant metaphor. These cyborgs were the Star Trek enemies who terrified the willies out of me when I 1st saw them on late night TV. Next Gen was usually heartwarming pre sleep entertainment, but not that night.

In the standup segments, Adam cheerfully takes us through many of his cancer experiences with few punches pulled. Everyone has a different cancer journey, he doesn’t pretend to have the ultimate experience. There are funny stories that come out of it all and scary ones as well.  Perhaps scariest for Adam is that he discovered that he HAD to change his inadequate diet. So, perhaps as an aid to his new lifestyle, or for the entertainment of us all, he has committed to trying out a new food that he has never tasted before, every night on stage, during the show. He has a choice of three things and the audience has to pick one for him, tonight was cherry tomatoes, kiwi fruit and unpeeled cucumber. All I could think from the sour look on his face as he ate the tomatoes, is that if you are going to try tomatoes for the 1st time, please, get them from a friend’s garden when they are warm from the sun and divinely sweet. And someone peel the cucumber, at least. It helps if you discover food at its best. Being a comedian, though, Adam is no doubt, going for the laughs over his tastebuds.

Adam doesn’t want this to be his ‘Cancer Show’, but let’s face it, it is, and why not? Most people are touched by cancer at some point in their life and because it’s always been such a taboo subject, it can feel pretty isolating. At the time, and afterwards, you tend to be drawn to those things that help you deal with what is a pretty harrowing experience. A cheery, daggy, nerdy comedy show from an experienced talented comedian might be just the trick.

Also there are lasers.

Adam McKenzie is performing Laser Light at The Coopers Malthouse

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/adam-mckenzie-laser-light

Watson – Go To Hell!

By Lisa Clark
Go To Hell
Fear is the Mind Killer. Fear can cripple people from living their life with freedom and joy. Two years ago Melbourne Comedy Festival Stalwarts Watson put on a horror comedy show in the historical and genuinely creepy Melbourne Gaol. Anyone who went will never forget all the hilarious and terrifying hijinx that took place in that Gaol. It will no doubt go down in Festival history as one of the best things ever put on at the festival. This year, Watson’ Go To Hell connects through to that show but taking us to the even deeper, darker places in between the two that are the inspiration for this show.

Watson have always loved to play act movies for us and here they get to play out some famous horror film scenes for laughs, but this isn’t the bulk of the show. It’s just part of the whole exploration of fear and links back to a more innocent time for Watson. Things have changed.

Like going to a Horror Movie, from the title and poster of Go To Hell you know you’re in for something scary when you’re seated in the Beckett Theatre but you don’t know what or how. The stage is a big empty black space and the audience doesn’t know when or if anyone will appear behind them or above them or next to them. At least you have the reassurance of being in the safe hands of the endearing and funny Watson crew who will guide you on this rollercoaster ride of a show and bring you through the other side.

The surround sound soundscape is visceral and the original music spine tingling. Director Steven Gates did not create the soundscape, it was created by Gillian Lever but he was obviously a big influence on its existence, he did design the soundscape for Inside with Frank Woodley & Simon Yates and I remember it blew me away.

I can’t tell you about the crux of the show, you’re going to have to find that out for yourself. But you know those sorts of comedy shows that have you crying with laughter then crying with empathy, ‘til it all gets mixed up? You know the sort of show that critics love? This is one of those shows. I loved it.

Go To Hell! is on at The Malthouse Theatre until April 23
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/go-to-hell

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!

 

WATSON – The Life Education Van for Adults!

By Elyce Phillips Watson Life education Van

When you’re a kid, everything’s easy. A big van comes round to your school and a puppet tells you how to live your life. You’re sorted. But as an adult, puppet-based life advice is sorely lacking, and that’s where WATSON (Tegan Higginbotham, Adam McKenzie and Liam Ryan) come in. In The Life Education Van for Adults, WATSON tackle the big issues we face as grown-ups – relationships, sex, employment – and give questionable tips on how to get by, via the magic of sketch comedy.

The trio had a difficult task this year, following on from the success of Who’s Afraid of the Dark?, their very successful Melbourne Gaol show. The Life Education Van for Adults is simpler in its staging and scope, but just as hilarious. We see snippets of the show they do for schools, tips for the adults in the room and some flashbacks that show how they became the people they are today. Linking everything together is a story about the group being stuck in the desert that provides great opportunity to showcase their superb comedic relationship. Higginbotham, McKenzie and Ryan are equally strong performers, each taking a turn at being the most ridiculous person on stage.

WATSON are a group of performers that look like they’re having an enormous amount of fun, and that energy is infectious. Their sketches are witty and sharply-written, but performed in a slightly shambolic way that makes them feel off-the-cuff. Higginbotham, McKenzie and Ryan deliver the laughs the whole way through, with particular highlights being a section on life hacks and a sketch about dating in the modern era, told with Jane Austen-style sensibilities.

The Life Education van for Adults is highly entertaining, wonderfully silly, and if you do a little googling at home, possibly very educational. Get in fast if you’re keen to check it out, as shows have been selling out.

WATSON – The Life Education Van for Adults! is on at Melbourne Town Hall’s Backstage Room until April 16

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/the-life-education-van-for-adults-watson

Squirrel Comedy’s Recommended and Previously Reviewed Shows at Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2015

By Lisa Clark

Well the Squirrels are getting ruffled up and ready for autumn nut collecting. And comedy reviewing. There are soooo many shows on offer at the 2015 Melbourne International comedy Festival and it can be very difficult for us to see everything we want to see, let alone review everything we want to review. For those readers who are planning their Festival schedules and are in need of help, we have some good news: Squirrel Comedy has previously reviewed thirty of this year’s shows and we have laid out links to all those reviews below.

 

First Up here are some brilliant shows I previously saw & loved but Squirrel Comedy hasn’t reviewed.

I recommend you see:Claire Hooper School Camp

Claire Hooper’s School Camp

Claire takes us back to school days in a raw & truthful way where nostalgia takes some surprising and dark turns that make this show very special.

 

Celia Pacquola – Let Me Know How It All Works Out.

Celia’s show about fortune telling and her international lifestyle was another of Celia’s crowd-pleasing corkers.
Celia Pac Let me Know

Barry Nominated last year as word got around it was selling out like hotcakes, so if you weren’t lucky enough to see this gorgeous show better book now.

 

Denise Scott – Mother Bare

Denise deservedly won the Barry Award last year for her droll and often riotous reflections on motherhood and other aspects of her comedic life.Denise Scott Mother Bare pic

She’s only doing four shows this year at the fan friendly time of 4.30 Sundays, so get your tickets early.

 

 

And now for shows that we have previously reviewed.

Particular highlights this year that I can also recommend include:

Are You Afraid of the Dark by Watson Watson Afraid of the Dark

Watson’s funny and occasionally genuinely scary show is not for those with a nervous disposition or heart condition but my goodness it is a monstrous load of fun. It can only fit smallish audiences into the space at the Old Melbourne Gaol so book early, I hear the first week is booking out fast. Not surprising as this show won Best Comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and considering it is site specific it is one you will have to come to Melbourne to see.

 

Bart Freebairn Ultra Power LordBart Freebairn pic

Bart is a comedian at the top of his game just waiting to be discovered by the mainstream. I get the joyful shivers when I see a stand up comedian reach a point where they can host a room and own it keeping everyone rolling with laughter non stop. Bart is there and I hope everyone loves Ultra Power Lord as much as I did at Fringe last year.

 

Bucket’s List by Sarah Collins starring Justin Kennedybuckets list

Buckets List is a whimsical, beautiful and of course very funny tale with a star turn by the amazing Justin Kennedy (who we just don’t see enough of on the circuit any more – I miss him, but if this is the sort of work he’s producing then I’ll forgive his absence). Justin is blessed with the ability to make an audience laugh without saying a word and when I see independent theatre this good I think our major theatre companies should have a good hard look at themselves.

 

Damian Callinan – The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy CallinanPaddy Callinan

A perfect show for this anniversary of ANZAC it’s another comedy character tour de force by Damian where truth and tall tales blur with loads of laughs and a streak of darkness. The true spirit of the ANZAC is thoroughly celebrated.

 

We can’t wait to discover new exciting comedy at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival  but meanwhile

Here’s the full list with links of those we reviewed earlier:

The 13–Storey Treehouse

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6692

Anthony Jeannot is Unaccept-a-bubble

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7985

Bart Freebairn: Ultra Power Lord

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7643

Clem Bastow – Escape From LA

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7956

Damian Callinan – The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy Callinan

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6010

Dr Brown – Befrdfgth

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=1244

Dylan Cole – The Moon in Me

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7760

Fancy Boy Variety Show

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6647

Faulty Towers – The Dining Experience

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=1633

Geraldine Hickey – Listen Out For The Castanets

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7669

I Love Green Guide Letters Live

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

Justin Kennedy – Bucket’s List

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7723

Late Night Letters and Numbers

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3846

Lee Naimo – Finding Lee

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7970

Lisa-Skye’s Lovely Tea Party

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5880

The Little Dum Dum Club Live

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

Luke McGregor – I Worry That I Worry Too Much

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6045

Mark Butler – Grammar don’t matter on a first date

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7885

Political Asylum – Late Night Riot

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3785

Sam Rankin – Wake Up, Sheeple! (2.0)

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7639

The Sexy Detectives – Mono Logs

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7952

The Sound of Nazis

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7712

The Umbilical Brothers – KiDSHoW – Not Suitable for Children

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6870

Stuart Daulman is an Absolute Credit

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7706

Stew Walker – A Hard Day’s Night of Beatles Parodies

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7920

Gary Portenza: Apologies in Advance

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7915

Set List

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

Watson – Who’s Afraid of the Dark

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=7786

World Record Show with Andy Matthews, Adam Knox and Dave Warneke

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5973

Zoe Coombs Marr – Dave

http://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=6963

 

The Melbourne Fringe Festival Awards

By Lisa Clark

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

http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/for-artists/awards

For current info check their twitter feed https://twitter.com/melbournefringe