New Order

By Peter Newling 

Squirrel legend Lisa Clark, in reviewing a previous year’s iteration of New Order wrote: “There are many group shows at MICF, they are a great way of getting to know a group of comedians in a short amount of time and deciding who you might like to see more of in the future. You might even become a fan.” This is certainly still the case in 2019.

According to the blurb on the MICF website: “They’ve forged kick-ass careers across the UK and Ireland” and, aside from having adopted US terminology, “now these bright and brilliant stars have their sights set on Melbourne! From the Fringe to the BBC and everywhere in between, here comes the best in original, trendsetting comedy”.

The organisers have done a terrific job of putting together an eclectic, vibrant and very funny assortment of performers.

Wigan comic Chris Washington kicked the show off. A 2017 nominee for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe, much of his set was framed around his experiences of growing up and being beaten up in the north of England, and the colourful characters that impacted his upbringing. His style is relaxed and engaging, coming across as the sort of likeable lad that would be great company in a bar or party setting. Such is his story telling ability that he is able to clearly paint pictures of the people and places that feature in his very funny recollections. From stories about his friend Spud to his long suffering family, Chris delivers a beautifully paced, relaxed routine.

Rosie Jones was born to work in comedy. She has all the necessary skills – a keen eye for material, a great sense for the ironic, an ability to make an audience think, an ability to know how far to go in making an audience feel uncomfortable, and an underlying brattiness that revels in that discomfort. Her constantly smiling, sweet demeanour magnify the regular moments when the audience is thinking “Did she really just say that?”. Her cerebral palsy doesn’t make her a great comic. Nor does it impede it. Watching Jones at work with her audience is like watching a kitten toying with a ball on a string. She knows exactly how far she can bat it around, when to stop – and obviously enjoys every minute of it.

Catherine Bohart is a relative newcomer to the comedy stage – not that you would know it, from this very confident and polished performer. This is a very authentic performance – there’s nothing plastic or over-rehearsed about Bohart’s style. She’s very straight-to-the-point, and utterly fearless in her subject matter. Much of the content is drawn from her bisexuality, and the issues in coming out in her religious and conservative family and community. Her audience interaction work is outstanding – and of a confidence that you would expect from a much more experienced campaigner. She has the capacity to startle and confront, but establishes enough charm and likeability to get away with it. Her observations on the similarities between Melbourne and Ireland provided some of the most cracking lines in MICF for 2019.

The show rounded off with Mawaan Rizwan. From humble beginnings – a Pakistani immigrant family and growing up in London – Rizwan quickly establishes that humility no longer plays a great role in his psyche. Adorned in the sparkliest purple tracksuit I’ve ever seen, his set revolves around his constant need for attention and adoration – often thwarted by circumstance and his mother. His line delivery is confident, although he does occasionally look like he’s delivered those lines a few too many times in the past – some of the spontaneity of this routine seems to have disappeared. Having said that, it’s great material – and his massive on-line following is testimony to his influence. He’s a gifted physical performer, and his musical talents at the end of the set are worth waiting for.

New Order is playing 28 Mar – 21 Apr at the Melbourne Town Hall