By Elice Phillips
Political Asylum is a monthly line-up of great local political comedians. During the Melbourne International Comedy Festival they take up residence in Town Hall for one night only in their annual Late Night Riot.
The late night show played to a packed auditorium and it wasn’t hard to see why. Every single performer on the line-up was fantastic. Political Asylum regulars Aamer Rahman, Stella Young, Toby Halligan, Scott Abbot and John Brooks were all hilarious, covering topics from Abbott and Gillard to compulsory horse-riding classes for the disabled. Mathew Kenneally was an absolute standout among the regular crew. He’s quick-witted, his material is incredibly strong and he did a great job of hosting the show.
Nelly Thomas and Damien Callinan were special guests for the evening. Thomas amused with tales of remaining diplomatic while hosting talkback on Radio National. Callinan brought a touch of theatre to the proceedings, performing a meeting of the Horsham branch of Amnesty International. His characters were spot-on and painfully funny – his portrayal of a truly woeful ‘green poet’ was my highlight of the night.
The extra special surprise guest for the evening was the wonderful Rich Hall. His material wasn’t quite as politically-minded, but the audience absolutely loved him, cheering for him to stay on after his red ‘get off the stage’ light came on. Hall’s droll observations of Australia had people in stitches. His comparison of our coalition government to the store that does shoe repair and key cutting was particularly funny for its strange accuracy.
If Late Night Riot is any indication of the quality of the regular show in Brunswick, it deserves a packed house every month. These guys are serving up some of the most on-point and entertaining political humor around.
The Run for the festival is over but Political Asylum is on at the Brunswick Green the second Sunday of every month.
By Annette Slattery.
Hitting the stage with a husky voiced charm, Toby Halligan makes himself at ease with the audience from the get go in his new show “Dr Toby Halligan is not a Dr”. Halligan takes on the big guns in this show including religion and politics. But his preoccupation seems to be walking through this intolerant world as a homosexual.
Halligan is funny from start to finish. He deals in a very intelligent brand of comedy and even when he tackles some well worn subject matter, such as talkback radio, he does so in an original way. He is of course not an actual doctor (as the title suggests). The conceit for this show plays on the idea that he wants to fix the ills of this world, a conceit which operates mainly as a place on which to hang his stand up material. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that, especially when the stand up is this good.
And that is what Halligan is, a very good stand up. He touches on a variety of subjects including an encounter with a South African evangelical, the Julia Gillard/Tony Abbott quagmire, the Yumi Stynes/George Negus debacle, ADD and its associated drugs, drug addicts and their threat to society, American Republican hopeful Rick Santorum, changing the sheets as compared to survival on the ice…the list goes on. Halligan packs a lot into this hour which offers evidence to his ability to create a very tightly crafted hour of stand up.
In 2011 Halligan was nominated for the best newcomer award at the festival. This show suggests to me that it’s just a matter of time before we see his name amongst lists of future nominees. This is a highly enjoyable show which deserves to be seen in a better venue than the tiny Locker Room.
Dr Toby Halligan is not a Dr is on at The Locker Room in the Portland Hotel