By Colin Flaherty
Live cartoons drawn alongside stand-up comedy is an intriguing concept. Add a lively host in Alexandra Elizabeth Howell, four brave guest comedians, Illustrator Hadley Donaldson, a guest scribbler (in this case Jason Chatfield, who has his own cartoon based show), a willing audience and toasted cheese sandwiches, and you have Picture This!
Lining up to have their words immortalised visually at this particular show were Luke McGregor, Michael Hing, Claire Hooper and Celia Pacquola. Apart from Michael (who is a multiple visitor to the Picture This! stage) they performed sets that I have come to know almost word for word from seeing them often at local rooms. I was dying to see what dimension the drawings would add to their material.
The illustrators used one of two methods to work with the comedian; they either drew a literal representation of the jokes or they would toy with the performer and add their own humour to the images. Both were entertaining in their own way.
The literal method resulted in a detailed picture that grew as the routine went along and, while not always adding laughs to the source material, was a feat to behold. It was amazing how rapidly the illustrator worked as the jokes went through their life cycle. After the punchline was reached, it would have to be sadly erased (I hope copies are saved!) to make way for the next joke.
A loose cannon approach tested the comedian’s improv skills as they were forced off the script. Some performers suggested additions to the drawings to which the cartoonist would oblige with amusing results. For the most part it was an exercise in trying to embarrass the comedian with suggestive doodles (ie. lots of penises).
This is a show of sensory overload. Focusing on the screen runs the risk missing any nuances of the comedian’s performance but the words aren’t really the main focus of this show. If you are familiar with ta particular comic’s material you can see where this set goes visually while keeping an ear open for any instances of a curve ball being dealt with. Many times the comedian was surprised by what had been made of their words but usually they were intrigued by the visual representation of themselves.
It was a fun event and certainly something different from your bog standard stand up show with tight five sets. It left some interesting memory imprints to go along with the jokes.
Picture This! is on at The Tuxedo Cat