#ShitMickNevenSays

By Colin Flaherty

Incorporating Social Media and related technologies into comedy shows has been increasing within the past year or so. Pushing it even further, Mick Neven makes extensive use of twitter in an ambitious attempt to engage his audience. Audience members are encouraged to tweet comments during the show at any time. There is also a fun guided walk via podcast to get you to the show.

We find Mick tweeting observations and instructions to us as we take our seats which is an interesting take on pre-show banter. The freedom to interact makes for some creative audience heckling later on, although it isn’t as immediate as it could have been due to imposed continuity measures. When the iPad is entrusted to a mischievous “Secretary”, the risk of distraction is high and some of Mick’s jokes may be missed.

The structure of the show comprises of stand up with regular refreshing of the twitter feed (projected onto a screen for all the room to see) so that Mick can comment upon the tweets sent from both within the room and the outside world. Most of these off the cuff remarks tend towards crude lines and the insulting of the sender. They still manage to elicit voyeuristic laughter from the punters as a certain anonymity factor provides a safety barrier when it is Mick’s name being associated with the replying tweets.

Adding the odd reply and retweet, the show attempts to expand into the Twitterverse but sometimes the context is a little skewed. Tweets from audience members can only provide a glimpse into the material covered (as well as the obligatory superficial observations) which makes for some amusingly odd responses from those situated elsewhere.

Mick’s scripted material is solid observational gear with various amusing rants. He covers many stupidities of the modern world, usually with the addition of a “when I was young we had to…” routine; ensuring that the stand up is tied securely to the concept of the show. Some of the routines fail to end on a big finish but they always contain enough humourous lines and ideas to keep the punters laughing constantly throughout the show.

The guided walk requires at least forty minutes of your time, as Mick and his guests provide colourful banter while you make your way to Roxanne Parlour from the Town Hall. There’s the extra incentive of a free beverage as the tour takes in a pit stop at the Portland Hotel. This podcast is both entertaining and informative, even if Dave from the Brewhouse is a little dry in his presentation.

Certainly a unique and intriguing concept, this is a well structured and amusing show that goes beyond a mere technological gimmick. If you can tolerate his constant dropping of the “f-bomb” you will certainly have a fun time.

#ShitMickNevenSays is on at Roxanne Parlour

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/shitmicknevensays/

 

Daniel Kitson – Where Once Was Wonder

By David Slattery

Well you will certainly get your money’s worth for this show. Introduced as a show about “what life is”, and how “the impossible becomes the inevitable”, there is certainly no skirting around the serious topics at hand. While I am reluctant to compare his work to any other, his masterful Stephen Fry-ish use of the English is entertainment on its own. I genuinely think I could listen to him talk on the most mundane of topics and find it both enlightening and entertaining. The fact that he is also hilarious is a bonus.

There have certainly been a few changes to this show, compared to his earlier work. While in previous shows he has given off a fairly self-deprecating vibe, in this tour he has thrown all that away in favour of being “awesome” instead. Also, possibly more obviously, he has shaved his head and beard. This relatively insignificant act actually goes on to spark a large portion of his inspiration for this show; a myriad of metaphors about perception, prejudice and rebirth.

One of Kitson’s great skills which is certainly demonstrated in this show is his ability to create vast amounts of comedy while remaining firmly within the theme of his show. Generating comedy from topics not inherently funny with his unmistakeable use of language, he also weaves some compelling, and often poignant arguments seamlessly into the show. Arguments and philosophies that are cynical and heartfelt, logical and completely contradictory.

Despite the wordiness of his content, there is no sense of alienation for the audience. He balances his language perfectly with his subject matter to ensure that everything he says can be understood completely by virtually any audience. Whether or not any individual member appreciates the full extent of his cynical philosophies is of course a different matter.

As always with Kitson’s shows, be prepared for him to ramble on past his allotted time frame, but I guarantee you will be left with a kind of warmth, and a moral that I for one have never experienced from any other artist.

Daniel Kitson -Where Once Was Wonder is on at The Playhouse, Melbourne Arts Centre

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/where-once-was-wonder-daniel-kitson/

Win tickets to Dave O’Neil’s show “You Don’t Really Have a Job Do You Dad?”

You’ve seen him faffing about on In Gordon St Tonight or on one of his many appearances on Spicks and Specks and now you could win tickets to his lovely show

You Don’t Really Have a Job Do You Dad?

We’ve got 5 x double passes for next Tues 3rd April show!

If you ‘d like to win one of these double passes email us at

squirrels@squirrelcomedy.com

ASAP

Dave O’Neil’s show is on Tuesday to Sunday at 9pm at

The Upstairs Lounge @ Hairy Little Sista *

240 Lt Collins St, Melbourne

* Licensed venue. Under 18s must be accompanied by a Parent or Legal Guardian.

More info can be found here

An Interview with Ben McKenzie

by Lisa Clark

This year Ben McKenzie is appearing in (at least) eight different shows during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. I’m wondering if this is a record and if this could be the inspiration of a sort of performers’ version of the Funny Tonne competition?

Well, I don’t know about a festival record, but it’s certainly a personal one! My previous record was four, and two of the eight aren’t official festival shows, so I’m not sure they count. I wouldn’t recommend trying to beat even six, though!

How did you make the move from the science world into the comedy world and is there still some separation, or have you melded them like two Vulcan minds?

It’s debatable whether I was ever really in the science world; I did study science at uni (mostly physics and computer science), but I never completed my degree. I have always loved science though. I was an actor finding it hard to get gigs, but I’d done some sketch comedy at uni and I decided I should write some comedy, and my first three comedy shows were solo shows about science. I was inspired by friends I admired – Lawrence Leung, Linda Catalano and Andrew McClelland – to write comedy about a subject I cared about.

Who in comedy has inspired you?

I’m constantly inspired by friends I’ve made through the comedy scene, like the people I named above. There’s so much great live comedy in Australia! Celia Pacquola and Hannah Gadsby inspire me; they each have a definite style and they really make it work, something I find difficult as I always wanted to change and try different things – probably to my detriment! I’m also a big fan of the British comedy scene.

You have been part of Museum Comedy since 2008, who have you got lined up as your guides this year?

This year I’ve decided to change things around and do a character based tour, so I have some great comic actors playing our tour guides. Dave Lamb is a WAAPA grad who’s worked with Bell Shakespeare, and he has amazing amounts of energy, he’s playing Dave, a new graduate of the Tour Guides Academy. Petra Elliott has a great, commanding authority, she used it to great effect in a recent role with La Mama; she’s playing Narcissa, a veteran guide who loves Melbourne and the history of the city. Her odd assistant Vic is played by Nadia Collins, who’s a great improviser with a talent for coming at things from an unexpected direction. It’s going to be different from our previous tours, I’m really excited about it!

What is your part in The Peer Revue?

I’m one of four performers brought together by re-science, a group who craft science experiences in Victoria to get adults interested in science. We’re each doing our own thing; mine is a reprise of a show I wrote for Science Week a few years ago in which I summarise A Brief History of Time in, well, it’s now about 10 minutes. It can be done!

Can you please explain what Pop Up Playground is all about? Remember that not all of us have heard of the ‘classic’ Werewolf – or is this used to weed out the non nerdy?

No, it’s definitely for everyone! It’s a game in which you and your team leader – who is one of the five guild leaders on your village council – must figure out which of the councillors are secretly werewolves. The werewolves kill off the council members one by one at night (when everyone has their eyes closed), and then you talk to your leader and team mates and try and figure out who the werewolves are. It’s all about bluffing the audience and trying to work out who’s lying, but the audience make the final decisions. Pop Up Playground is this and other games played live on stage.

So you are planning on singing in at least two of your shows this year…

Somebody to Love is this year’s ASRC fundraiser, and I’m super excited. I’m singing at least one of my favourite Queen songs. It should be a blast! So should Karenoke, Karen Pickering’s karaoke show. I used to go to karaoke a lot about five years ago, so that show is quite an indulgence.

I get the sense of you as being a comedy professor teaching comedy fans about science, politics and what the hell Dungeons & Dragons is all about. Do you see a teaching role in your comedy?

Definitely. I mean, the comedy comes first, but comedy is partly about surprise – not knowing what the punch line will be. Science is like that, the world is like that: so many surprises and things we don’t know, and finding them out is as much fun as laughing. Why write another joke about airline food when you can spread the word about things you love?

Do you think the Geeks have gradually taken over the comedy world? (Or have they just gradually taken over the world…?)

That’s a big question. I think a lot of comedians are nerds, it’s just that they’re nerdy mainly about comedy. Certainly most of my favourite ones are, and that spills over into nerdery about other things. My next solo show is about geek culture so I don’t want to give too much away, but the best thing about nerdery is that it makes a virtue out of passion; it says “it’s okay to care deeply about stuff and want to share that with the world”. There’s a fine tradition, especially in Melbourne, of comedy in this vein, so I don’t think it’s a new thing.

Come on you can tell us, have you some how gotten hold of a time turner to keep up with it all?

Let’s just say I might have more than one heart and know a thing or two about the time vortex, and leave it at that. 😉

Here’s where you can see Ben perform this Comedy Festival:

Pop Up Playground
The Peer Review
Late Night Letters and Numbers
Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour
Late Night Dungeon Crawl
Political Asylum’s Late Night Riot!
Somebody To Love: A Tribute to the Songs of Queen
Karenoke

5 Good Reasons to see Mick Neven, Jennifer Wong & Ben McKenzie

5 Reasons to See #ShitMickNevenSays

1. Because you’re not just allowed to tweet from the audience, you’re expected to tweet from the audience. With a projector screen displaying the latest tweets with the #ShitMickNevenSays hashtag, it’s the future of audience participation.

2. Because there’s a Pre-Show Guided Tour podcast. Once you’ve got your ticket you can download the podcast from www.mickneven.com.au and it guides you from Melbourne Town Hall to the venue. It features commentary from guest comedians and instructions on how to get a free James Squire Golden Ale.

3. Because you get a free James Squire Golden Ale. Seriously! Get a ticket, get the podcast and get a free beer on the way to the show.

4. Because it’s a funny show featuring incisive social commentary and topical doodle jokes.

5. Because my kid wants a bike and if you don’t buy a ticket you’ll be breaking a little girl’s heart.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/shitmicknevensays/

 

5 Reasons to See Jennifer Wong – Ouch & Other Words

1. Time: Ouch & Other Words is on at 7:15pm. There is a good chance it doesn’t clash with any of the shows you want to see.

2. Location: Ouch & Other Words is on at the Forum Theatre. If you’re already nearby, this location will be very convenient for you. If not, sadly it will not be.

3. Language: Ouch & Other Words is performed entirely in English. It is much better than the solo show I once performed entirely in Finnish. I only know one word in Finnish. (Lahja. It means gift, or present, and is the name of my favourite dog on Instagram.)

4. Content: Ouch & Other Words is stand-up comedy about First Aid and some other things, such as being bookish and observational and anxiously optimistic. This may be of interest to you.

5. Guarantee: If you hate my show, I will sit in the dark and watch you talk for an hour.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/ouch-other-words-jennifer-wong/

 

5 reasons to see any one or all of Ben McKenzie’s shows

1. I have super powers: due to a mutation on my sixteenth chromosome I have slightly increased pain tolerance, a resistance to anaesthetics and extraordinary ginger mutton chops.

2. You can get your nerd on: who else will be making jokes about science (The Peer Revue), games (Pop Up Playground and Late Night Dungeon Crawl) museums (the Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour) and puzzles (Late Night Letters and Numbers)?

3. We will rock you: whether you want to be rocked by the music of Queen (Somebody To Love) or learn how to properly rock out yourself at karaoke (Karenoke), we’ve got you covered. (Fame and fortune not guaranteed.)

4. You can get involved: why annoy your fellow patrons and comedians by heckling in other shows, when you can come to Dungeon Crawl or Pop Up Playground and be invited to participate in the fun? And all from the safety of the audience!

5. I’m a terribly nice man: I was described as the anti-Hitler, don’t you know?

Here are the links to book for Ben’s shows:
Pop Up Playground
The Peer Review
Late Night Letters and Numbers
Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour
Late Night Dungeon Crawl
Political Asylum’s Late Night Riot!
Somebody To Love: A Tribute to the Songs of Queen
Karenoke

Justin Hamilton – The Goodbye Guy

By Lisa Clark

In 2007 Justin Hamilton changed the way he did festival shows and raised the bar for everyone when he performed his gorgeous, melancholy trilogy of shows about his love for Melbourne, a lost relationship and growing up in Adelaide, Three Colours Hammo. If any of you have been hanging out for another episode of the trilogy this is as close as it’s going to get. What’s more, it’s better.

Justin Hamilton is one of the best comedians in Australia and a master of taking his brilliant, hilarious stand up routines and working a sublime story around them in such a way that the whole feels organic and complimentary. Despite obscuring what is true and what is fantasy, it all feels like it’s coming from Justin’s gut. The plot of The Goodbye Guy revolves around an alternate yet hauntingly similar version of Justin who is famous for writing a humorous blog on a website called ‘The Crooked Smile’ but the culture has changed, it’s no longer making him happy and he’s struggling to realise that it’s time to change his life and move on.

Along for the ride, fans will be rapt to discover, are some familiar characters from the past. They include his nemesis, Jason Harrington (from The Killing Joke and Goodbye Ruby Tuesday) as the repugnant, successful, mainstream comedian made good and Kaliope his wise and mystical muse from Three Colours Hammo. These two play the good angel and the bad angel on Justin’s allegorical journey through his life and career. His comedy routines take the part of the blogs he’s written for the fictional website. Some of the routines are borne out of his actual blog and it is thrilling to enjoy them performed live. There are also tales as old as the hills appearing like old friends and new ones that had me falling about. Despite the many in-jokes for fans and those in the comedy community, Hamilton remains the everyman gag meister with hilarious stories about being mistaken for a New Zealand icon while touring with Greg Fleet and his inability to chat up women that will appeal to all.

Hamilton’s writing is cinematic with darkly humorous and romantic influences that include Woody Allen and, George Clooney’s film Up in the Air. Although it doesn’t stop being funny, there is a point where the stand up is left behind and that comes when Justin sits at his laptop to write his final blog ‘The Goodbye Guy’ while Bernard Fanning’s lovely ‘Weekend of Mystery’ plays for quite a lengthy time in a scene not unlike something from one of Daniel Kitson’s best story shows. A brilliant storyteller in his own right, Hamilton stretches beyond stand up to create theatre that’s more captivating and visceral than most of the stuff being produced by well funded theatre companies.

There are usually many shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival that advertise themselves as ‘must see’, but I can’t imagine that there will be anything as essential to this years festival experience as this. Justin makes it very clear that this will be his last festival show for the foreseeable future and although it is a devastating loss (because he is so damned good at it) I can’t wait to find out where Justin takes his talent from here. It’s a show about grief, about dealing with change, but most of all it’s about hope for the future and letting the child within dream.

The Goodbye Guy is on at The Victoria Hotel.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/the-goodbye-guy-justin-hamilton/