Dilruk Jayasinha: Victorious Lion

By Nick Bugeja 

If Dilruk Jayasinha was a cricketer or footballer, you’d be saying that he has hit some pretty good form recently. In 2018, he received a Logie for Most Popular New Talent, has starred on Utopia, and did a stand-up special for Amazon Prime during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. After months out of the game, Jayasinha – like Steve Smith in the 2019 Ashes Series – returned to the playing field in style with Victorious Lion, delivering an engrossing, amusing, and consistently excellent performance.

Despite a slow start to the show, Jayasinha grew quickly into his set. Immediately, it is clear that he has his own unique approach to the art of comedy that is especially upbeat. Jayasinha is grateful for the mere fact that the show could go ahead, in a ‘comedy festival that wasn’t supposed to happen’. He also refuses to berate people that come in late, and his exchanges with the crowd are entirely good-natured. Not once does he pressure anyone to reveal personal information for the benefit of a few laughs. This is something of a rarity among comedians, and Jayasinha can be proud of the respect he shows his fans.

Though, that doesn’t mean Jayasinha’s comedy is ‘clean’ in the Seinfeldian sense. In fact, it’s not clean or family-friendly at all, even if his personality is. Much of the show – including its best parts of it – deals with Jayasinha’s longstanding status as a single man, and with that comes a multitude of jokes of a personal nature. Every couple of minutes one of his stories, lines or jokes would provoke uproarious laughter – a strike-rate most comedians would be incredibly happy with. Interweaved with these jokes is a narrative about Jayasinha’s life: what it’s like to live overseas from one’s family, his drive to become a comedian, and how he coped with the months-long lockdowns of 2020.

Jayasinha has already cultivated a core of fans through his television appearances, and, most certainly, by delivering high-quality stand-up performances. Victorious Lion fits that latter category, and might just well be one of the best shows in the 2021 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. If he continues to churn out such hilarious and entertaining sets, then Jayasinha will find himself in the upper echelons of Australian comedy. It may only be a matter of time.

Victorious Lion is showing at the Melbourne Town Hall until 18 April. Tickets are available here:

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2021/shows/dilruk-jayasinha

Lizzy Hoo : Hoo Dis?

By Lisa Clark

The most amazing thing to find out about Lizzy is how new she is to the Australian comedy scene. Originally from Brisbane and now living in Sydney, I’d suspected she’d been honing her craft there for many years but she’s only been doing standup since 2017! She is so relaxed on stage and yet has the commanding and confident presence of someone with ten years’ experience on the boards.

As the title suggests Lizzy is letting us get to know who she is. We begin in the present where she demonstrates her ability to get great laughs out of current politics and the horrible year that some comedians are avoiding like the plague. Her crowd work proves that she’s quick on her feet and has a finely tuned wit. She takes us back to her childhood where she finds a lot of amusing nostalgic anecdotes. Fans of the 90s will find lots to laugh about. There are also tales of her misspent youth under her wild-child non de plume (am hoping she delves deeper into this potentially colourful character in the future).

Things get a bit dark about 2/3s of the way in when Lizzy takes us even further back sharing hardships of previous generations, the wars experienced by her parents and grandparents, and she has the best Y2K gag I’ve ever heard. It’s a belter and made the audience gasp somewhat. But Lizzy isn’t a dark comic, she soon brings us back out into the light even when talking about serious fundamental life choices.

It’s always fantastic to discover a great new comedian. Her confidence is slightly less surprising when you find out she began doing standup in her mid-30s but her comedy voice is strong and her instincts spot on. Lizzy keeps the energy up throughout with joke after joke for the full hour and it was an absolute joy to make her acquaintance.

Hoo Dis? is on at The Melbourne Town Hall (Cloak Room) and Mantra On Russell until April 18

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2021/shows/lizzy-hoo#

5 Good Reasons To See Cousin Tara: Wukkas

1. Cousin Tara is an award-winning comedian and songwriter with killer pipes and mad-witch energy. She’s that relative who looks like they’d volunteer to build a well in Africa.

2. WUKKAS is an original musical comedy-cabaret with a whole lotta heart and infectious punk rock energy. It was nominated BEST CABARET at Hobart Fringe at the Edge 2020.

3. Buying a ticket to WUKKAS gives you access to the only show in town with koala death metal, soy sauce ballads and educational rap about the importance of friendship.

4. WUKKAS made its Melbourne debut online in June 2020 with support from the City of Melbourne COVID-19 Arts Grants. It was praised for its innovation and excellence. As the year 2020 has now been redacted, however, this presentation now never actually occurred.

5. WUKKAS, as in NO WUKKAS, as in YES, WUKKAS.

Cousin Tara performs Wukkas at The Butterfly Club Apr 12 – 18

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2021/shows/tara

Tom Gleeson : Lighten Up

By Dali Sulejmani-Blackwell

Many would recognise Tom Gleeson as the smart arse on Hard Quiz and to others, including Tracy Grimshaw, he is the man who pilfered the Gold Logie but here he is the brilliant stand up comedian. Gleeson’s show is unbridled with enthusiasm and goes through a range of personas, which at times has him behaving as a lawyer and others a firefighter.

Gleeson, who refers to himself as a drug trafficking scallywag, is a professed true-blue Aussie, with lines like “I chopped up that bit of road kill for me dogs”. Gleeson’s laconic nature has a knack with the audience, which at times makes you question if you are sitting comfortably at home. Gleeson’s Lighten Up is a one hour show but you won’t feel short changed, as his style treats the live audience more like a personal cabal rather than anything else.

Gleeson’s show is highly emotive at times with his use of tone and character changes. The only sour point of Lighten Up is that you are sure to think twice about having a lolly, but not for the reasons you may suspect. However Gleeson demonstrates why he is one of Australia’s comedic stars as his wit and ironic style shines through. Gleeson is sure to make you feel like a contestant on Hard Quiz with his impromptu questions and soothsaying demeanour. Ultimately, Gleeson will strive to make you comfortable throughout his own self deprecating ordeal. It is sure to be traumatic for Gleeson and entertainment for the viewer.

This is a performance that would be sorely missed at this year’s comedy festival, as the hiatus caused by Covid has certainly had no impact on Gleeson’s ability to be one of comedy’s finest.

Lighten Up is on at The Comedy Theatre until April 18

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2021/shows/tom-gleeson

Scary Goats Tour

By Lisa Clark

The first surprise about Scary Goats Tour is that it’s not a bunch of sketches written by an Impro troupe, but an original funny play written by Chloe Towan and Nathan Fernandez.’

Performed by Dax Carnay as Ree, Jess Ciancio as Mel and Dominik Shields as Tess they are able to create a world on the oil of a smelly rag, without using sets or costume changes and only a handful of props. Jess’s Mel plays straight woman to deliciously sardonic Dax and delightfully wacky Tess as comedy side-kicks and they create a great team.

Mel is a vain Vodcaster whose online show is about exposing fake purveyors of the supernatural. Ree is her weary, much put upon sidekick who does all the tech to get Mel’s show online. Finally we meet the effervescent Tess, who mixes a bubbly but bonkers personality with occasional terror, as their Tour Guide. There is not a lot of depth to the characters, just enough to get the audience on side which suits the nature of the farcical play. The actors took a little while to warm up and were a bit stilted at first but as the play took them over and the audience were laughing, they relaxed into their parts and things took off.

The play builds the tension of the horror element well with subtle hints of something being Not Quite Right and it paid off beautifully. The timing of the comedy wasn’t always spot on and it was most notable in the chase scene montage that was clearly a tribute to silent cinema. Farce is hard, it requires razor sharp timing, whereas this was somewhat loose, but it contained some cute jokes and audience winning enthusiasm from the performers.

You can take older kids and teens to this, though it does get a little genuinely scary at one point, but the jokes & stupid puns help keep it from going over the edge. I recommend it as something a little bit different at the Festival, for fans of theatre, horror, comedy or goats.

Scary Goats Tour is on at The Butterfly Club until April 4

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2021/shows/scary-goats-tour

Stuart Daulman – The Stuart Daulman Farewell Reunion Show

By Will Erskine 

The Stuart Daulman Farewell Reunion Show is like watching your mad uncle pontificate at a family function – that’s meant as a compliment.

Stuart Daulman is clearly a master of his craft. The show is largely straight standup, with seemingly no firm structure and flexible content selection.  He seems deeply relaxed throughout the performance and it feels at times like you’re watching an eccentric uncle hold court at a family BBQ, anecdotes many of which don’t fully materialise and migrate to tangents that deliver more tangents and occasionally bringing it all back together with a musical interlude.

Daulman achieves that wonderfully enigmatic stand-up trick of holding the room’s attention and making everyone laugh without (on the surface) having to do very much. If one were to look at the script for the show, there isn’t masses of content and certainly not hundreds of jokes, but with his delivery style Daulman manages to squeeze every bit of funny out of even the most banal detail. Getting a coffee, catching the tram, all of which become hilarious stories in Daulman’s hands. The written jokes almost becoming secondary to the style and delivery.

 Words like “rambling delivery” and “not much content” might seem like this is a negative review, that’s not the intent at all and couldn’t be further from the truth. Daulman holds the audience in the palm of his hand and has everyone hanging of his every word. His set pieces of lip-synching help to keep the pace of the show and mix things up.

I’d only seen one of Stuart Daulman’s previous shows, and from memory it was a high concept performance involving staging his own funeral and he alludes in tonight’s show to it being unusual for him to be doing stand-up without lots of props and masks. It’s refreshing to see such an established indie performer to take a step back and strip back the performance to the basics.

I’d highly recommend this show for people who like relaxed easy going, quirky stand-up. A good mix of jokes, eccentric delivery and set piece lip synching.

 Stuart Daulman performs The Stuart Daulman Farewell Reunion Show at Trades Hall for the duration of the festival (no shows on Wednesday)

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2021/shows/stuart-daulman