The latest offering by The Very Good Looking Initiative is set in the world of cheesy TV talk shows. They accurately call it experimental and subversive anti-theatre but calling it a comedy is often a stretch.
If you’ve ever been to a TV taping you will recognize all the stupid things the audience is put through by the warm up guy, applause practice, call and response, and generating excitement. We experience all this but the over use of repetition pushes these things to the point of exhaustion.
Once the “show” starts proper, our host Elliott Gee, all fake tan and Gold Coast haircut, gives us an extended opening monologue full of lame jokes. A particular highlight is his troop of dancers who regularly bump and grind with huge smiles and a limited repertoire of moves.
It’s inevitable that in a show set at a TV taping the production itself or the host will experience a meltdown and boy this is a doozy. Things devolve into a terrifying Lynchian carnival of grotesque characters and bizarre situations that uses a harsh soundtrack of electronic noise and nightmarish lighting. We hear the disturbing inner thoughts of our host and see segments of a TV show direct from hell. Those that worship at the altar of Tim and Eric may get some perverse laughs but everyone else will generally see these scenes as disturbing or sad.
Let’s Get Practical! – Live has a similar feel to their last show Cull (Melb Fringe 2016 and MICF 2017) in that they go to really dark places in search of laughs. Like Cull, I found it a struggle to get beyond a nervous titter with most of their ideas. A handful of the segments are played broadly by all indicating that the intent is indeed humour. Even with the dark tone these are clever and playful enough to get us giggling. Other scenes however are delivered so po-faced that we experience discomfort rather than laughs.
There’s no doubt this is an impressive assault on the senses that has plenty of spook-house thrills to entertain. All the performances are top notch and the themes are challenging, making this a show to check out if your tastes swing towards the freaky. Just how many laughs you will actually get depends if you think words such as “excruciatingly wonderful” and “anxiety-inducing” are terms that promise an amusing time.
Let’s Get Practical! Live is on at the Cooper’s Malthouse – The Tower until April 22