An Evening with John Cleese

By David Slattery

It is really quite difficult to begin a review about someone who has already established themself so firmly as a comedic icon. Writer and actor in Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, A Fish Called Wanda…. do I have to go through every one of his contributions to the comedic world right here? We all know he is a comic genius, a pioneer of so much that we see on stage and in television today, right? Good. Let’s move straight on to the show.

I was not entirely sure what to expect from a John Cleese live show. Part of me was thinking a myriad of stand-up, sketch comedy, maybe some deep and meaningful insight into his past and his comedic process. I was almost right, just not quite in the way I expected. The opening of the show was an introduction (as if he needed one) from Richard Stubbs (Whom most of you will know from Radio station 774), who then sat down with him for what became an hour long look into Cleese’s past life. Even as Stubbs was pointing it out to the audience I realised that with all the hours of time spent watching and listening to Cleese’s many works, I knew almost nothing about him at all. So as we were regaled with all sorts of stories and anecdotes about his father, mother, and just about every single known comedian in England in the 1960’s (all of whom he knew personally), I was genuinely amazed at how I had never known any of it. All of these stories were coupled with the obligatory slideshow of photos and film excerpts, and of course Cleese’s unique brand of wit. On that note, it certainly seems Cleese has become much more mellow and even-tempered of late. There were definite layers of bitterness and resentment on certain subjects; the $17 million alimony to his ex-wife for one. But not the red-faced, passionate torrent of abuse that I had been used to seeing from the man.

The second part of the evening was Cleese on his own, explaining to us his view on Black Comedy, and how it influenced his own writing. This was accompanied by some small excerpts of his own writing for film, such as the ever-popular Black Knight sketch from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and even his own memorial service from Graham Chapman’s funeral. As self-indulgent as this seemed at first, it really felt deserved. He also gave a lot of praise to all the comedians he worked with during his time, presenting several anecdotes citing the great comedic abilities of his peers. The image of Graham Chapman in a carrot suit while speaking at a debate for nuclear disarmament is not one I shall soon forget.

But now the most important announcement of all. Two more shows have been announced at the Princess Theatre. If you are a fan of any or all of his works, or if you would just like an insight into how he got to where he is today, buy a ticket. Before it’s too late.

Cleese finishes his run in Melbourne on March 27th then he’s off to Sydney from the 30th.

Click here for tickets and more infomation

Tommy Dassalo- Pipsqueak

By Jayden Edwards

Since coming runner up in Triple J’s Raw Comedy competition and debuting at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2006, Tommy Dassalo has pushed himself: dabbling in theatrics, illustrations, voice-overs and complex story telling. But its in his new show that he takes on his biggest challenge yet.

He’s a young, baby faced, squeaky voiced, self proclaimed “Little Buddy” to all and believe it or not, Cancer survivor. Yep, as a young child, Tommy was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and spent much of his childhood in hospital, and it’s this that Tommy ambitiously chose to source material for his new comedy festival show “Pipsqueak”.

Performing to a small Wednesday night crowd at Brisbane’s Powerhouse Theatre minus his desired backing artwork that Officeworks fucked up, Tommy jumps onto stage and dives into some casual stand up and banter, then drops the C bomb… (Cancer, not that other word). The audience is taken aback at first and things are a little uncomfortable but, like ripping off a band-aid, the worst part is over and the show comes into it’s own.

Tommy cleverly structures the show around a few letters he wrote and received during his childhood. It’s these letters that produce some of the more sobering moments of the show, and some great comedic opportunities to riff off little Tommy’s apparent naivety during the whole ordeal (like totally screwing up his Make-a-wish!). Tommy masterfully uses light and shade throughout the show, brilliantly using the darker moments to surprise attack the audience with punchlines.

The heavy subject matter of the show was risky, and to revisit and retell this story mustn’t have been easy for Tommy, let alone to an audience night after night. But with comic timing and story telling skills well above his years, the underlying trauma just adds a whole lot of heart and soul to an hilarious story based show.

Tommy’s style of stand up and mannerisms are not dissimilar to that of Micheal Chamberlin. On stage he’s quick, witty, confident and just so bloody likeable. He really is ‘the little buddy that could’, sure to be a highlight of this years festival, and in years to come.

Reviewed at Brisbane Comedy Festival

Performing at Melbourne International Comedy Festival
at Victoria Hotel – Acacia Room
215 Lt Collins St, Melbourne
29 March – 22 April
Click here for tickets and more infomation

5 GOOD REASONS TO SEE: The Extraordinary General Meeting, Max Attwood & Paul Culliver and Kai Smythe

5 Good Reasons to see the EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL MEETING:
Agenda item one: it’s an absurd and biting comedy

Agenda item two:  It features four performers and a multitude of characters

Agenda item three:  It’s being performed at the Tuxedo Cat, a fantastic hub for independent comedy

Agenda item four:  The show sold-out at the 2011 Melbourne Fringe, which is more than the families of the cast combined

Agenda item five:  No one needs to take minutes

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/extraordinary-general-meeting-the/

5 Good Reasons to see MAX ATTWOOD & PAUL CULLIVER in NO PARTICULAR ORDER: 
1. We’re amongst the more handsome performers in the Festival.

2. Two comedians for the price of one. We’re both very different performers so if you don’t like one of us, you’ll probably like the other. (But really, you’ll like both of us).

3. Enjoying our show will let you know your opinions match those of reviewers.

4. On the right night we’re cheaper than going to the cinema.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/in-no-particular-order-max-attwood-paul-culliver/

5 Good Reasons to see KAI SMYTHE – BIG HAIRY FUN 

Kai Smythe – Big Hairy Fun

1. Because he is so attractive.

2. He may look like a scary homeless man, but he sings and dances like an angel.

3. If you see his show, he wont have to eat his own shoes for fear of starvation from poor ticket sales.

4. the show in fuses video and live action comedy making Kai a multi-disciplinary artist. This is particularly good for grant applications.

5. Did we mention how attractive he was?

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/in-no-particular-order-max-attwood-paul-culliver/

Five Good Reasons to see: Damian Callinan, Wing Attack, Dirty Mimes, and ALASDAIR TREMBLAY-BIRCHALL

5 reasons to see the DAMIAN CALLINAN in ROBINSON CRUSOE

1. A comedy virus has run through the comedy community and all shows except for Damian Callinan in ‘Robinson Crusoe’ have been cancelled.

2. Damian was sensible enough to be inoculated

3. There is no risk to members of the general public as the virus only effects comedians

4. Damian is directing all proceeds from ticket sales to finding a cure for this heinous disease

5. ‘Accchheeewww! … Shit!’

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/robinson-crusoe-damian-callinan/

5 Reaons to come see WING ATTACK in PANTS (Pants)

1.  PANTS – After last year’s comedy festival show ‘Wing Attack’ received much criticism in the press for failing to include any references to netball, the performers realised the need to be completely honest in naming this show and to deliver what the title promises.  This year they can promise pants. They really can.

2.  (Pants) – Very few other shows at the comedy festival have explanatory parenthetical clauses in their titles that merely repeat the title in italics.  This one does.  Who doesn’t need more explanatory parenthetical clauses in their lives? Nobody?  We thought so.

3.  A systematic deconstruction of the medium of sketch and its reassembly into a fully functioning robotic vacuum cleaner – Who amongst us has had it up to here (gestures to neck level) with sketches set in the cliched scenarios of doctor’s surgeries, restaurants, doctors in restaurants, restaurants in surgery and training days at meat packing plants?  What, everybody?  Oh … damn.  This show contains at least 5 sketches set in doctors surgeries.

4. Satire – this show will lampoon and parody some of the key issues facing you today, assuming that you are currently facing a doctor’s surgery, a restaurant or a meat packing plant, and that you confuse ‘issues’ with ‘buildings’.  It will also be the first show to finally take the ancient Greek philosopher ‘Thales’ to task for his frankly stupid theory that everything in the universe is made out of water.  About time! (we hear you cry)

5. None of the above – We were joking about all of the other reasons.  The real reason to come and see this show is because it will make you lol.

5 Reaons to see DIRTY MIMES

1 We have home made prosthetic Nipples

2 The most wildly physical show in the festival

3 Bad Pussy

4 I give birth to myself nightly

5 You won’t be comfortable but you’ll be happy

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/dirty-mimes/

 

5 reasons to see THE by ALASDAIR TREMBLAY-BIRCHALL 

1. You haven’t heard of Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall and you are a
person who likes to try new things like watching standup by guys
called Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall

2. You might think that the world is amazing but are desperately
looking for an excuse for why that may not be the case. There’s a bit
in this show about exactly that!

3. You know how people say that life is too short? Well it’s not, it’s
really long and really dull and you need to fill it with content like
my show cause it takes way more energy to create your own content
(trust me).

4. Just come and see my show.

5. Look, the show is now a compilation of all the best stuff I’ve done
over the last few years, I think its original, funny and thats all
that it is, there isnt a third thing that it also is.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/the-alasdair-tremblay-birchall/


 

UNPACK THIS – Review from 4/11/11

By Colin Flaherty

In this largely autobiographical tale, Geoff Paine explores the ridiculous aspects of anger management while delving into some serious issues. The show, which involves several clients in a court-ordered group workshop, does a wonderful job of shedding light on the topics while providing enough levity to avoid a heavy slog.

The social workers Trevor (Syd Brisbane) andLorraine(Michelle Nussey) have an interesting dynamic, starting out with awkward boundary crossings that quickly escalates.Lorrainecontinually spouts the irritating counselling jargon as a well-meaning voice of reason, almost out of her depth in this sea of testosterone. Trevor is the ham-fisted bloke providing hilariously bizarre analogies who tries to keep the discussion on track, even if that means stepping on toes.Brisbanedominates the show with brilliantly exaggerated alpha male bravado while Nussey plays her nuanced role well; bouncing off the others with appropriate restraint.

The participants are portrayed by Paine and Ross Daniels, who each take three characters. Using simple props such as hats and glasses or minor adjustments to their clothing, Paine and Daniels switch swiftly between these characters. Each are given unique mannerisms and voices to help emphasise the humorous lines.

One of Paine’s characters is essentially himself. He spends most of his dialogue butting heads with the counsellors with plenty of witty interchanges, while managing to take a swipe at his own real life background. He also brings to life a suburban bogan, Nicholas, whose bluntness is to the horror of the politically correct counsellors. His third character is Nguyen, a Vietnamese gent whose exchanges are filled with misunderstandings that lead to comical shouting matches.

Daniels’ characters are also well drawn and played brilliantly. Junky Bogdan provides plenty of comic relief to contrast the seriousness in this play. He is a wonderfully edgy ball of energy spouting plenty of wacky lines that could only come from a drug-addled brain. The downtrodden Brian makes for a contrast to the larger-than-life characters – not contributing much humour to proceedings but instead anchoring the show in reality so that it doesn’t stray into farce. The senior citizen Reginald is a character of attrition and sorrow who adds deep sombre moments while piping in with the odd amusing dithering comment.

The script is lively in both comedy and drama. It trades heavily on stereotype which brings humour and gets the points across, doing so in an even-handed manner. The overriding impression is that regardless of the characters’ backgrounds they are all in this mess together and should ‘let shit go’. It’s a fascinating and entertaining play.

Originally published in Chortle Au Tuesday 4th Oct, ’11 During Fringe Festival

Information about the 2012 Season here

Five Good Reasons to See: Lessons with Luis, Elbowskin, Gordon Southern & Die Roten Punkte

Five good reasons to see LESSONS WITH LUIS PRESENTS
KIDNEY KINGDOM

1. My dad, my little brother and me just won the the Victorian Raw Comedy final with our funny jokes.

2. My dad is not feeling well and we need to be famous to help him get a new kidney.

3. I will teach you about different things and you will learn about different things.

4. I will sing fun songs! There will be a song about cats, because I love cats.

5. My mum will be proud of me from heaven.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/luis-presents-kidney-kingdom-lessons-with-luis/

 

Five good reasons why ELBOWSKIN’S – ‘HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE’ is a must!
1. “It’s Elbowskin’s greatest achievement to date… They just got
really good” – reviewer

2. Elbowskin are unleashing their debut hip-hop performance

3. We told our mums we’re really famous and that we’ll be playing to
sold out audiences… And they’re actually going to come this year….
+ it’s really cheap.

4. What you thought was right is wrong

5. What you thought was left is actually stage right

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/hey-diddle-diddle-elbowskin/

 

Five good reasons to choose GORDON SOUTHERN – A BRIEF HISTORY OF HISTORY

1. It’s the entire history of the world, with jokes, in an hour. You will not find a faster comedy show, or one with more jokes/ facts/ tiny historical raps.

2. A brief history of history is a must see for all people who remember the past. History is literally in the title of the show… Twice!

3. I’m a good comedian.

4. It is a multi- media extravaganza from the 1990’s. There is a battered old digital sampler from the early days of big beat dance music, a powerpoint presentation and a comedian who was also a comedian in the (late) 90’s.

5.  Some people saw it in Adelaideand it made them happy.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/a-brief-history-of-history-gordon-southern/

 

Five Good Reasons to see DIE ROTEN PUNKTE – EUROSMASH!

1. These are the last gigs Otto and Astrid are doing in Australia before they head off for another long tour in north American.

2. Astrid has a new song called Body Slam about wrestling, food and sex. She also has an incredible new silver dress!

3. There’s more choreography than ever before.

4. Otto has a new song about a date he went on inNew York called Look at my Fruit.

5. It’s in the most beautiful venue at the festival, The Famous Spiegeltent.

Astrid

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/eurosmash-die-roten-punkte/