Matt Kilpa – Songs in the Key of Awesomesauce

By Colin Flaherty
Matt Kilpa

Originally hailing from Perth, stand up comedian Matt Kilpa has been edging himself into the musical comedy game. In Songs In The Key of Awesomesauce he presents a show that’s hilariously quirky, geeky and a whole lot of silly musical fun. Where else would you hear tunes about Captain Planet, randy scientific researchers, bestiality and the drug Phenobarbital?

Kilpa may not have the strongest singing voice out there but he certainly has the personality and chutzpah to carry a show. While he’s unlikely to attract groupies in the way musical acts with the voices of angels do, he’ll appeal to those people who like their music silly and with an edge. You’ll possibly say to yourself “Hey! Maybe even I can pull of this musical comedy malarkey!”

Not so fast bucko! Where Kilpa shines is in his amazing talent in writing amusing songs. They are full of brilliantly wacky ideas that surprise you with each and every line, regularly pulling the bait and switch tactic to keep everyone on their toes. The songs are so jam packed with amusing material that if you laugh too hard and long at one line, you may miss several jokes. When he does give us a one joke parody it’s mercifully short and to the point. He ventures into some political and off colour material which he gives a light hearted sheen, apart from his “Hit Single” which comically pushes the filth to the extreme.

The between song banter is witty, charming and daffy to match the silly ditties. He comically over explains his material after the fact to the already on board audience and analyses his performance to the point of distraction. He really leans on being the underdog and in this case it works a treat. He nudges the crowd to sing along to ridiculous and difficult parts of his songs which makes us feel a little silly all the while clearly painting himself as the clown.

Kilpa stands out as a unique voice in the musical comedy landscape. While he may never reach the musical comedy heights of your DAASs or Tripods, he presents delightfully wacky songs performed by an everyman guitar strummer with an eccentric world view.

Songs In The Key of Awesomesauce is on at 1000 £ Bend until April 23

Dara O Briain Live

By James Shackell Dara O Briain

The old adage ‘You get what you pay for’ isn’t always true at the Comedy Festival. Some of the best gigs I’ve ever seen cost less than you’d pay for two bowls of ramen, while occasionally headline acts at The Town Hall and Hi-Fi bar have left me underwhelmed, bitter and vengeful. So when an international star like Dara O’Briain rocks up at Hamer Hall for two shows only, charging $70 – $80 a head, the value-seeker inside me wants him to be next level funny. So hilarious that I would willingly sacrifice a dozen bowls of ramen, if only to spend another hour in his company. Measured against those lofty standards, Dara O Briain was worth every cent.

He’s just a complete pro. There’s no other word for it. From the moment he bounds onto the stage, 8ft tall, bald and boggle-eyed, the sounds of Basement Jaxx’s ‘Do Your Thing’ pumping in the background, he’s got the audience right where he wants them. He doesn’t let go for the next two hours.

As someone who grew up watching Dara on QI and Mock The Week, I’d always considered him solid and quick-witted, a good addition to any panel, but never the genuine standout. On stage though he’s unshackled from the quiz show format, free to do what he does best: ramble, stutter, gesticulate and bounce off the audience, his Irish tongue tangling itself in his trademark style, words fusing and colliding between his teeth. In fact it’s his high-energy audience participation that gets some of the night’s biggest laughs. “The front row are always in I.T.” he moans, before discovering (with genuine delight) a gravedigger, a debt collector and a guide for Launceston’s tram museum, one after the other. “Do you have a favourite tram?” Dara asks the guy, only half ironically, “Do you save it for the end of the tour?”

The material itself, on paper, isn’t anything mind-blowing. There’s some stuff there on the taxonomy of the humble koala, a few gentle digs at Sydney that get a rise from the Melbourne crowd, and anecdotes about the misunderstandings that arise when you’re moderately famous (a story about hijacking a stranger’s camera for a celeb selfie, was particularly good). But honestly, when you’re this confident, and your timing is this sweet, the substance of the jokes doesn’t really matter. I’d happily sit and listen to Dara talk for 60 minutes on the merits and drawbacks of his favourite socks. His talent is storytelling, and connecting with a crowd, and he does those things better than most of the big-name acts I’ve seen. Start saving those pennies now – with any luck he’ll be back in a year or two.

Dara O Briain’s run has finished

Liam Ryan – Well That’s Disappointing

By Colin Flaherty
Liam Ryan 17

A 2000 strong crowd are waiting for comedy legend Russ Danger to take the stage. Holding the fort is warm up comedian Liam Ryan. He dances for our amusement during the absence of the headliner in this wonderful study of anxiety & humiliation that seamlessly merges this intriguing premise with an hour of Ryan’s solid hilarious stand up.

We get brilliant routines covering embarrassing situations in public while trying to act cool, being the assistant manager at a bar in London and the astonishing situations his parents and grandparents put their offspring through. These stories suit the theme perfectly as does some material about doing warm up for TV that slots in nicely with his patter before the “ravenous fans”.

Ryan is already a bundle of energy on stage with lots of excitement and movement so adding the nervous energy of a comic pushed into an impossible corner can only enhance the show. He has an exaggerated actorly air to his delivery which heightens the absurdity perfectly. The anxiety isn’t pushed so far as to detract from his stand up, instead he adds amusing lines as he verbalises his fears and comments on his surroundings in an almost stream of conscience ranting that is a delight to watch.

Some nice touches are added to flesh out the story of the missing headliner and make some jokes about the pitfalls of being a warm up act. An uncooperative tech guy, doomed negotiations with the promoter and the intense heat of the spotlight has us sympathising with our hero. This signals to us not to play the role of an angry mob, a scenario this story could have easily lead to, but a much subtler resolution that has us leaving the show with smiles on our faces.

This is a brilliant hour in the hands of a consummate comedian.

Well That’s Disappointing is on at Hairy Little Sista until April 23

The Mooks – Boganocracy

By Colin Flaherty
The Mooks

In 2117 the world has managed to come together to alleviate global warming, provide food, shelter and healthcare for all and generally promote harmony all over the globe…that is except for Australia. It has become a wasteland ruled by four factions: The Collingwood Football Club, Retake Australia, Queensland and the Silent Majority. Can the Global Alliance bring these Neanderthals into line?

This comedic play staged by The Mooks (Chris Cole, Matt O’Rouke, Lara Robertson and Greg Tantala) is a wonderful satire of modern Australian culture, ideology and politics. Using Robertson’s Global Alliance delegate, we get a hilarious anthropological study of each of the factions. Nathan Spacca the Collingwood FC legend (O’Rourke) provides plenty of laughs about our obsession with sport and celebrity. Bolt Hanson (Tantala) the sleazy Gold Coast developer lampoons the extreme right-wing folk. Rory the Reclaimer (Syme) explores the brainwashed masses scared of anything foreign.

The staging has been well realised with props aplenty (mostly eskies and tinnies) and elaborate costuming that use every cliché in the book. Audio visual elements add some exposition and a few amusing songs are included to break up the action.

Robertson is a little stilted in her delivery but plays the straight woman well. She is able ramp up the comedic frustration in dealing with these dimwits and can sure belt out an emotional tune when she steps into the spotlight. The other three play their caricatures perfectly, with lots of primal grunting, silly lines and generally hamming it up. O’Rourke’s Spacca is the perfect boofhead who’s full of narcissistic facts and not much more, Tantala is a brilliant combination of smarminess and ignorance, and Syme expertly portrays some comical bravado and a bit of vulnerability.

Boganocracy is a witty piece of theatre that brings up plenty of issues in Australian society. It primarily preaches to the choir but is certainly cartoonish enough to make anyone laugh at these larger than life specimens of Aussie malehood.

Boganocracy is on at Alchemist’s Revenge until April 22

Alex Ward: Quiet

By Lisa Clark
Alex Ward

The title of this show is ironic, well it’s certainly not blearing at you like a nightclub, but Alex Ward is pretty chatty. There was a time when her parents were worried she may have speech problems but I’m sure those worries are well and truly in the past. Not only is Alex a fine stand-up comedian she is a DJ on Joy FM.

Alex is clearly very comfortable on stage and starts out with some pretty conventional funny gear about the small (sold out) room she’s in and public transport fines. The show gradually splits itself into two halves. The first half is about a trip back home that brings forth memories of her childhood in Brisbane growing up with an orthodontist for an uncle and all the work she had done on her jaw he instigated to prevent speech problems in the future that have obviously worked. Alex has no problems keeping the laughs rolling while yacking nineteen to the dozen.

The last part of her show is about coming out to her family, getting over her first romantic disappointment (but not in a maudlin way) and getting to know her new step dad. She also covers her talent for Irish Dancing, her job in a South American inner city café and baths.

This is pure stand up without props, slides or any hint of audience participation. Alex is a friendly, skilled comedian who will keep you entertained for the full hour and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys stand-up comedy. This is on early and a great way to start your night out at the Festival.

Quiet is on at The Forum Theatre (Carpet Room) until April 23

Leaky Bucket – First Crack

By Colin Flaherty
Version 2

Leaky Bucket (Prue Blake, Darcy Fleming and Matthew McCartney) are a young sketch troupe performing their first MICF show together. This peppy trio of upstarts are eager to show off their sketch talents but as the performance progresses we soon see that all is not as it seems.

The sketches start off quite strong but soon come to a screeching halt as the cast work out their issues, usually with Matt being put back in his place. “You’re such a Matt!” is a phrase repeatedly shouted throughout this hour. This is an intriguing structure, breaking the fourth wall not only to deconstruct the performance but also introduce some comedic conflict. The meta elements regularly encroach on the actual sketch content, so much so that the “scenes” become secondary to the storyline involving our performers.

Your typical comedy trio character traits are set out right from the start, Prue the rather manevolent control freak, Darcy the pretty boy lap dog and Matt the dimwit relegated to background duties. They do all the usual comedic bickering bits (Matt is too dumb to be insulted by the cruel remarks, there’s a bit of sexual tension, we see a doomed power struggle and Matt quits the group) but this usually devolves into shouting, cruel taunts and not much else amusing or witty. Fans of the humour of cruelty will find plenty to like in this. Throughout the show each performer has a monologue recalling traumatic events from their youth, recounted with surreal details and overblown drama which fleshes out these characters beautifully.

The quality of the “sketches” are the usual mixed bag which have a few hilarious moments but often outstay their welcome. As you come to realise that they are not the actual focus of this show, you can happily forgive the sliding quality to an degree. However these peeks behind the curtain often suffer the same faults as the sketches.

The performers sell their stage personas with varying success: Blake plays her evil controller a little too subtly, Fleming brings a nice smarmy attitude to his character/s and McCartney has such an manic wide-eyed intensity that it is hard to take your eyes off him. They all work well together but they mostly play it all to the crowd rather than to each other. This seems counter intuitive but exaggerating performances both in and out of “sketches” maintains an apt artificial atmosphere and cements the fact that this is not a serious sketch show.

This wildly ambitious exploration of a sketch trio in crisis is rough around the edges but entertaining and certainly lives up to its title.

First Crack is on at The Last Jar until April 23