Bob Franklin – Yours Sincerely

by Hooi Khaw 

Bob Franklin – Yours Sincerely seems to be Bob Franklin’s thinly veiled criticism of a certain fellow comedian. Although Franklin plays a narcissistic version of himself, people in the know might recognise this show as a personal shot at a particular old school Australian comedian, hinting at a tumultuous relationship between them both.

Without knowing the detailed history of their relationship or the comedian in question, the audience is still able to enjoy Franklin’s work as a character piece. Franklin gleefully satirises the absurdity of this warped perspective which has his character victimising himself in bad situations that he has caused. Franklin portrays someone who is falsely taking ownership of past actions, in order to forward their own agenda. This has the impact of making the audience question the authenticity of this story of redemption that this character is trying to sell us, which we assume is Franklin’s intention.

If you’ve read memoirs by the artist that this show is satirising, it’s easy to see truth in Franklin’s critiques, making it easier to see the comedy in what Franklin is presenting. The fact that Franklin owns these as his character’s point of view only enhances this. However, there were definitely splits in the audience of people who were laughing because they understood the context behind a particular joke, versus other members who were enjoying it on a more superficial level.

Yours Sincerely represents a layered work, which audiences will enjoy on different levels according to their background knowledge of how and why this show was made. If you have very little context, you can still enjoy this as a character piece because the jokes are so well crafted, and it is brilliantly performed. If you’re better informed about the comedian in question and his history, you are able to access an additional level of appreciation for this work, but there is a frequent sense of “missing the joke” for the rest of us.

Bob Franklin – Yours Sincerely is on at Courthouse Hotel – The Jury Room.

Recipients of the 2015 Brian McCarthy Memorial Moosehead Awards

Brian McCarthy Memorial Moosehead Awards are more like a supportive grant and 2 – 4 applicants are chosen each year depending on how exciting and different the ideas are. It is a way of promoting creativity in Comedy and the award includes The Comedy Channel Director’s Grant, which engages a director for each of the Moosehead Award Recipients. If you’ve got some fabulous way out idea for a show that might need some help, you can start thinking about making your application next year.

The winners of the 2015 Moosehead Awards have been announced

They are:


Starring – Bob Franklin, Greg Fleet, Lawrence MooneyBrain child of Steven Gates


Nicholas J Johnson and Sarah Jones



David Quirk

Our congratulations to all of the 2015 Recipients, we look forward to seeing all of these intriguing sounding shows next year during the 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

For more information check out The Moosehead Awards website:

Bob Franklin, Steven Gates & Roz Hammond – The Writers: The Difficult Second Episode

By Lisa Clark

Another weird but entertaining comedy play by Bob Franklin. Although it’s subtitled “The Difficult Second Episode” it also seems to hark back to Bob Franklin (The Librarians) and Steven Gate’s (Tripod) first collaboration Stubborn Monkey Disorder. Could this be the third in Bob Franklin’s Steve & Biscuits Trilogy? They are the main things that all three shows have in common. Stubborn Monkey Disorder was Bob Franklin as reality TV show writer and Steven Gates as his side kick in a rather gothic surreal two hander where the reality TV show gradually came to life. Last year’s Golden Gibbo nominated The Writers where Steven Gates was replaced by two other Steves, Steven Stagg and Stephen Curry in an exploration of the inside of a writers mind.

The Writers: The Difficult Second Episode has a bit of both previous shows, playing around with different writing styles and genres and hinting at darker psychological undertones. It starts with a blackout like Stubborn Monkey Disorder, with Steven Gates back as Bob the writer’s suspicious side-side kick and ex writing partner breaking into the house. Then there are links to last year’s show with the name, the mention of tea and biscuits of course, and that it is a three-hander.

This year Bob and Steven are joined by the fabulous comedic actress Roz Hammond (Mad As Hell) who plays various other main characters. Again there are hints in this show that it is a manifestation of Bob’s mind during the writing process. With Steven representing his guilt and anxieties and Roz playing Bob’s idealised versions of women that come alive in the story. The story itself was often puzzling but became a bit clearer as it went along. Gatesy catches Bob out not only working on a comedy festival show without him but also spending a bit too much time with his ex-wife. Like Bob, it’s fairly slowly paced, absurd, and requires the audience’s attention. There were some patches that felt a bit too ponderous, but it also had some very funny highlights including a short interlude of cabaret from Steven and a deliriously joyful montage.

Although there is not much in the way of a set there are a lot of important sound and lighting cues and everything impressively runs like clockwork. The show over all is very tight and like the previous works is a very cerebral, theatrical piece with a strong British sit-com influence. It’s not as powerful as last year’s The Writers, but I still found many laughs and enjoyed spending the hour with three extremely talented comedy performers.

The Writers: The Difficult Second Episode is on at Melb Town Hall – Regent Room until April 20

MICF Award Nominees Announced

There are seven Nomineed shows for The Barry Award this year.

Hannah Gadsby who is doing two shows – her personal show about surviving her teen years and becoming an adult – Happiness is a Bedside Table and her art show which this year is called Nakedly Nudes and is becoming a bit of a tradition and sells out pretty quickly.

John Conway – The New John Conway Tonight Show. An anarchic crazy late night chat show.

Kitty Flanagan, for Hello Kitty Flanagan. A stunning performer who came back to Australia from the UK a couple of years ago for which are all immensely grateful.

Max & Ivan Are Con Artists –  British performers who’ve been getting some good reviews. (I’ve clearly not seen them)

Michael Workman with another magical lyrical story Ave Lorretta.

Rich Hall he’s so fabulous his show doesn’t need a name. He kicked ass at Political Asylum’s Late Night Riot too.

Trevor Noah The Racist. He’s South African and have heard fabulous things about him.


Now for this year’s Nominees for The Golden Gibbo! (Named in honour of the late Melbourne comedian Lynda Gibson it is awarded to “a local, independent show that bucks trends and pursues the artist’s idea more strongly than it pursues any commercial lure”.)

Kate McLennan & Wes Snelling for their Moosehead awarded, site specific work Standard Double. A character  based show set in a hotel room that can only hold a small audience.

Simon Keck – Nob Happy Sock – For his moving and amazing show about depression with the most heart stopping opening of the festival

Slutmonster and Friends (Jessie Ngaio, Lucas Heil & Wes Gardner) – a gorgeously designed, joyful celebration of sex, silliness and puppets.

Tommy Bradson – Sweet Sixteen or the Birthday Party Massacre. Rock Musical satire of suburbia.

The Writers (Bob Franklin, Stephen Curry and Stephen Stagg) – What goes on in the mind of Bob Franklin?


The Best Newcomer nominees were announced on Tuesday April 16th they are….

Damien Power – Monkey’s in Space

Dayne Rathbone – It’s Me Dayne and The New Conway Tonight Show.

Luke McGregor – My Soulmate is Out of My League

and Steen Raskopoulos – Bruce SpringSTEEN LIVE IN CONCERT!

Congrats to all the 2013 Nominees, Winners will be announced next Saturday April 20th (well… actually early Sunday morning)  at the Comedy Festival Club Hifi Bar

The Writers

By Lisa Clark

It must be a bit irresistible for a writer to write about writing. There are many, many examples of writers as protagonists such as Adaptation or Barton Fink, and Bob Franklin’s comic play reminded me a little of the recent cerebral romp The Seven Psychopaths without so much blood soaked violence. Sometimes it’s hard to know where reality stops and fantasy begins.

Ostensibly it’s about a writer of comedy named Simon and played by writer/actor Steven Stagg having a bit of writers block while being pestered by his annoying, arrogant housemate played by Stephen Curry (The Castle and he was Graham Kennedy in The King) prancing about in very short shorts. His housemate denies wanting to be a writer but keeps offering his opinions and crazy character ideas that come to life as Bob Franklin (The Librarians) in wacky outfits and accents.

Simon keeps quoting classic writers such as George Bernard Shaw, William Burrows and even Kierkegaard while his flatmate conjures up clichéd sitcom characters. They discuss comedy tropes like running gags and surprise twists and of course these magically manifest themselves in the play we are watching. The play is being created in physical form as it is being created in the mind of the writer.

From the beginning this seemed like there was a lot more going on under the surface. It became clear that we were getting a view inside Bob the writer’s head. I think the obsession with biscuits was the big giveaway, and the tribute to The Cheese Shop sketch using tea was gorgeous.

The intellectual, occasionally smug Simon thinks he is controlling things but he is blocked creatively while his housemate, who acts as the instinctively driven id part of Bob’s brain taunts him by having ‘characters coming out of [his] arse.’

The Writers might not be for everyone, writers will probably have the most fun here. If you’ve missed out on Hughsey tickets and are looking for something mainstream, you might want to go elsewhere. Still, there is a lot of joy in watching the three performers on top form bouncing off one another and having a ball. It’s lighter, better performed and more snappily written than last year’s Stubborn Monkey Disorder. It’s brief, playful and the audience laughed all the way though, of course there were a lot of reviewers in.

If you can be sure of anything Bob enjoys working with people called Steve and he loves a biscuit. If you love Bob Franklin you won’t want to miss this.
Think it’s time for a cup of tea and a bicky.

The Writers is on at The Melbourne Town Hall Regent Room

Bob Franklin & Steven Gates – Stubborn Monkey Disorder

By Lisa Clark

When word got out that the urbane Sir Bob Franklin and Steven Gatesy Gates from Tripod were teaming up for a festival show this year, you could virtually hear minds boggling all over town. If you enjoy having your mind boggled, this one is definitely for you.

The delightful and surprising thing was discovering what a great team Franklin and Gates make; with Bob unsurprisingly as the straight man and Gates as the comic side kick. Gatesy has taken his dumb and cute character from Tripod and augmented it to the point where he occasionally reminds me of Ardal O’Hanlon in Father Ted in being able to elicit laughs from looking confused. Their banter is the highlight of the show and their ability to deal with the odd technical fault gets such huge laughs that maybe they should leave those bits in.

Stubborn Monkey Disorder is a very tech heavy theatrical piece that sets up a spooky, gothic vibe by beginning in the dark with torchlight and sound effects. The opening creates the expectation of a horror story, especially with the brief flash of one of the performers in a wolf mask that suggests a werewolf story, which sadly never eventuates. There are definitely Hammer elements throughout though, with references to sinister doctors, dungeons and the tale of grave robbers Burke and Hare. The surprisingly satirical elements, especially when having digs at reality TV and the TV industry as a whole, are particularly gleeful.

The problem with the show is that are were so many plots over lapping and interweaving that it can be hard to keep up. There is a dream sequence within a story in particular that feels superfluous as I expected it to be somehow tied in at the end, but it is not. The Meta story involves Gates, having recently performed a failed reality show with Franklin, breaking into the studio where it was filmed. He discovers that Franklin has taken on the persona of a Scottish psychiatrist Dr Hugh Knox; with Gates and the audience suddenly finding ourselves taking part in a group therapy session. I think. I suspect this is a sort of re-enactment of their failed reality show, but it’s not quite clear.

Importantly, Bob Franklin and Steven Gates are so damn funny and adorable and the stories so intriguing and amusing that if you are fans you should not miss this and anyone else will probably have a fun time even if they’re not sure why. I don’t know if it’s a concious influence on them but I think Inception has a lot to answer for. 

Bob Franklin & Steven Gates – Stubborn Monkey Disorder is on at The Melbourne Town Hall in the Regent Room