Slow Clap – Truth

By Cathy Culliver, 

If you wanted to see something refreshingly different this comedy festival, and support some upcoming and impressive local talent while you were at it, you couldn’t much go past Slow Clap’s latest production Truth.

Performed by Vachel Spirason and aided by Stephanie Brotchie and her disembodied hand behind the scenes, Truth is a quirky one-man play with a storyline that will keep you guessing until the very end. Even then you probably won’t be entirely sure what just happened, but that’s OK. Just go with it.

Given that it’s based around a mysterious tale involving a Coles shopping bag, a creepy naked man and a plasma ball, it’s no surprise that Truth takes its audience on a strange journey. The show cleverly weaves visual elements with great storytelling, which Spirason delivers with gusto and palpable charisma. And as the show suggests, it’s all completely true. Or is it?

Spirason conjures up an array of hilarious characters throughout the show, including Juan the dancing Spaniard with a penchant for slapping, and Vaclav, the cross-eyed chess player from Prague. There’s something very Python-esque about these outrageous characters and Spirason plays them expertly with just the right amount of silliness.

Truth is full of genuine laugh-out-loud moments, most of which come from interaction with the audience. It’s all pretty harmless stuff, but just maybe don’t sit in the front row. You’ll find out why soon enough.

This is only Slow Clap’s second show (the first being the multi-award winning The Hermitude of Angus, Ecstatic), so it’s going to be very exciting to see what this duo come up with in the future.

Combing clever writing, silly dances, weird accents and good old-fashioned slapstick, Truth is a very funny show that’s well worth checking out to see some truly original Melbourne talent.

Slow Clap – Truth is showing at Tuxedo Cat.


Daniel Connell – Likeable Enough

By Annette Slattery,

“You can tell your friends that you saw me before I was famous” Daniel Connell told the audience as he hit the stage in his debut festival show Likeable Enough. Unfortunately, recycling tired old gags like this will not be enough to shoot Connell to fame.

However ninety percent of Connell’s was the same clichéd material, the kind of jokes that other comedians go to when they want to parody the archetypal hack comedian. The pull back and reveal has never been so heartily overused and abused as it was in this show. This is a technique that only works when it’s tight and has the element of surprise. These setups had holes so big you could drive a truck through them. The premise for much of his material was unoriginal and weak in the first place and then they were overworked. These stones were bloodless already, without Connell trying to squeeze a few more drops.

For example, the Glen Iris swimming pool was named after drowned Prime Minster Harold Holt in 1969 and I’m pretty sure comedians have been pointing out the irony ever since – it’s certainly as long as I can remember and I was born in 1972. It may have been funny the first time but after forty three years this observation is really losing its bite. So you understand why my heart sank as soon as Connell started talking about a pool near his place…you can guess the rest. What’s more Connell extrapolated it out into a scene whose only purpose seemed to be to house some glaringly predictable call-backs.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel however. Some of the material that Connell produced about his childhood, such as trying to hoodwink the tooth fairy, was amusing and enlightening. And some of the apocryphal things he was told as a child which he believed showed promise as the basis of good material. He also had a couple of slightly absurd imaginings involving animals which also packed real promise.

Connell seems like a nice young guy and he did get the title of the show right at least; Daniel Connell is likeable enough. However this is a show which would struggle to pass muster at Melbourne Fringe, let alone at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Maybe if Connell lost the generic material and concentrated on developing some of his more original ideas he might be more than “likeable”.

Daniel Connell – Likeable Enough is on at Arthurs Bar on Flinders Lane

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.

Rob Hunter – Late o clock with Rob Hunter

By Andrew Holmes, 

This is my second attempt at a review of “Late O’Clock with Rob Hunter” and his side kick LukeMcGregor. The first was a frontal assault akin to storming the beach in “Saving Private Ryan” on the shows lack of containing anything that resembled Comedy but after careful consideration and reflection, I have come up with the following.

I fucking hated this show – and that’s me being kind.

The whole thing was disjointed and at times felt like pulling teeth. The jokes (and I use the term lightly) didn’t flow into each other and the guest Comedians looked like they couldn’t get off this train wreck fast enough ………… But that is what this show is all about. It’s a well scripted and crafted performance that is meant to shock and amaze people but it simply wasn’t my cup of tea.

Lehmo was the first guest. He came on, pitched a bit of his routine which was pretty good and then sat down to be interviewed “Late Show” style with Rob. The concept of the interview was to payout on Lehmo and ask abrasive questions in Hunter’s ‘nervous character’ style.

Mike Wilmot came on as the second guest. He did a couple of lines of his routine as well, swore heavily at the audience then sat down to be interviewed. Wilmot then proceeded to tear shreds off Rob and Luke for their bullshit questioning and then exited the stage. The whole thing was so aggressive it completely missed my humour receptors but others in the audience were in stitches.

“Anyone for Tennis” were up next. They looked nervous while they belted out a couple of songs, said thanks and left. I was still recovering from Wilmot to appreciate their tunes.

The front row were in hysterics the whole way through the show and so were some others so this show has some credit. Knowing that this was all planned and scripted does make it a great show and would be worth a viewing. The MICF blurb about this show being “uncomfortably tense” and “not for the squeamish” was a freaking understatement for me personally.

Late O’Clock with Rob Hunter has 2 more shows on Monday night’s through the Comedy Festival – make up your own mind.

Late O’Clock with Rob Hunter is on in The Powder Room of The Melbourne Town Hall.

Andrew McClelland – One Man Stand

By David Slattery. 

Andrew McClelland plays MC for a variety night for seven different comedians of seven different genres, spanning four continents… All played by McClelland.

After a brief greeting and introduction, we were introduced to the first of McClelland’s characters, Danny O’Shannessy, an Irish comedian new to Australia who immediately went through almost every clichéd comedic cultural reference. Apprehensive at first at the idea of an hour’s worth of what could have been a series of half-cocked impressions and lame jokes, it soon became clear that McClelland’s characters had ample comic depth and personality to make this a very enjoyable show.

This is almost a show designed specifically for comedy enthusiasts; a lot of the humour comes from making fun of the comedian stereotypes that we are all familiar with. There’s the brash, uncouth Australian “Nugget Spunker”, the overweight, shouting American “Dominic  Larder”, not to mention the surrealist alternative “Frank Thing”. There are also a number of laughs to be had at the actual content these comedians present, some genuine comedy from fake characters. There were several moments where I found myself forgetting that these were fictional characters, simply enjoying some quality comedy from quality comedians. And of course the MC himself created some nice moments, underplaying himself a little to leave space for the real stars of the show.

A surprisingly good amount of tightly-packed comedy condensed into an hour, don’t be surprised if McClelland goes a little over time. Definitely a show to go see this year.

Andrew McClelland’s One Night Stand is on in the gorgeous Council Chambers of The Melbourne Town Hall

Simon Amstell – Numb

By Annette Slattery. 

Simon Amstell, is numb, disconnected from other people, he explains to us from the outset of this, his first Australian show. He’s disconnected from people at parties; he believes people on the street are disconnected from him and he feels disconnected from his father. This show traces his spiritual journey, including a trip to Nepal to attempt to find some kind of connectivity with nature and the people around him. He also talks about sex quite a bit.

If you come to this show for the acrid comebacks and searing put downs of the “Never Mind the Buzzcocks” Amstell, you will be disappointed. This is a softer Amstell, more contemplative and vulnerable. He’s even dressed differently from how you might expect. He’s not the sharply dressed, young, hip, uber groovy Amstell of “Popworld”, but with his glasses, devil may care hairdo and loose fitting clothes, he’s almost a bit shabby. However whilst his clothes or his attitude may be not be sharp, his wit is as sharp as ever.  Like some of the great comedians, Amstell can also impart a great deal of meaning with a look or a simple gesture, something he displayed superbly as he dealt with a girl using a camera in the front row.

This was the first preview show and as one might expect there was still a bit of working out to be done. Amstell made no secret of this and used it as the source of great amusement as he made a point of noting down some of his funnier adlibs and of checking his notes with a clown like, faux slyness.

Some of the themes in this show; bemoaning a dying planet and going on a spiritual quest to find himself, seemed a little old hat. However Amstell injects enough humour and self awareness into these subjects to pull it off. This is a consistently funny and interesting show from Amstell and it only promises to get stronger as the run continues.

Simon Amstell is performing his show “Numb” at The Lower Melbourne Town Hall. Though scheduled to start @ 8:15, the show started and finished 20 mins late. However this may just have been a first night hiccough.