Bronwyn Kuss – Sounds Good

By Lisa Clark

Bronwyn Kuss has a very distinct style of comedy which is slow, quiet and downbeat where sometimes the silences are longer than the jokes. She’s as dry as you might expect a comedian from country Queensland to be, she’s also confident and comfortable on stage, but what is her second solo festival show about? Certainly not what the publicity blurb suggests.

OK so let’s talk about the description of the show in the MICF Guide:

Very mild themes* and language** and no crowd work***

This show is a safe space***, or a trap. Who knows.

Anyway, sing out if you need anything.

Bronwyn relays stories about her childhood and growing up with too many aunties****, ruminates on how close she came to joining a cult***** and laments her total inability to ever make a decision.

Sound good? You should probably buy a ticket.

*she talks about paedophilia

** she teaches us the meaning of “Growling Out”

***she teases the front row and latecomers (though she doesn’t ask what they do for a living thank god). One bloke in the front row, moved back a row, part way through and Bronwyn stops the show to comment on it and embarrass him.

****what Aunties?

*****what cult?

Nothing else in the blurb seems to reflect the show I saw either. Is it part of her dry ironic humour or is it indeed a trap?

So things change a lot as a festival show develops, that’s normal, but the actual content was all over the place and perhaps is not quite ready for a festival. The many brief stories she touches on were really interesting, quite funny and could have been the basis of shows of their own. A story about working in a prison would have been a goldmine of material and her trip across American could have been a brilliant structure for a show. Instead her side stories have the vaguest of connections to her main thread.

It was also frustrating to see her specifically reference certain people to highlight homophobia in the most lazy way imaginable. She refers to drag artist Pauline Pantsdown in the past tense as if she died in the 90s (she’s  still active politically on Twitter) and talks about Pauline Hanson but appears to be unaware of the current news cycle were Hanson has somehow, surprisingly, (and potentially hilariously) come out as a gay advocate.

My mind started to wander as she talked about a first aid course, finding her slow delivery style quite the slog for an hour of stand up. Her tales about her relationships included information about a Bendigo paedophile called the Bendigo Toe Tickler which elicited a shocked gasp from the audience louder than any laugh she received.

It’s a very meandering show where she attempts the “going off on many tangents” style of a Billy Connolly or Ross Noble but doesn’t quite pull it off. The original story is not quite riveting or memorable enough for the audience to be excited about returning to. The journey of coming out to her dad at the beginning and her Mum’s different reaction at the end lacks something when we’ve learnt very little about her parents to have any connection with them and maybe coming out stories just aren’t as interesting as they used to be.

Bronwyn won awards and nominations with her debut show last year and I can’t help but think this one suffered from a bit of second album syndrome. Bronwyn has a unique comedic style and a lot of potential.

Sounds Good is on at The Westin until April 23

2022 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards were given out today live on the Festival’s (rather choppy) Facebook feed. Opened by Steph Tisdale and hosted by Joel Creasey.

Congratulations to ALL the nominees and winners!

Most Outstanding Show 

WINNER: Rhys Nicholson – Rhys! Rhys! Rhys!

Aaron Chen If Weren’t Filmed Nobody Would Believe
Cameron James Electric Dreams
Danielle Walker Nostalgia
Geraldine Quinn Broad
Greg Larsen We All Have Bloody Thoughts
Laura Davis If This Is It
Rhys Nicholson Rhys! Rhys! Rhys!

Best Newcomer

– for a solo performer or group of performers doing their first Festival show

WINNER: Frankie McNair – Relax Your Knees

Will McKenna Appellation
Frankie McNair Relax Your Knees
Bronwyn Kuss Any Goss?
Steph Broadbridge Hot Chick/Tired Mum
Sunanda Loves Britney
Mish Wittrup Soy Fat White

The Golden Gibbo

– in memory of the late, great Lynda Gibson – is aimed at finding a local, independent show that pursues the artists’ idea more than it pursues commercial gain.

WINNER: Alex Hines To Schapelle And Back

Mel & Sam Shit-Wrecked!
Maria Angelico The Disappearing Act
Geraldine Quinn Broad
Ashley Apap Ouch!
Aiden Willcox Lightly Familiar
Ross Purdy Hey Hey It’s Doomsday
Alex Hines To Schapelle And Back

Directors’ Choice Award 

– awarded by the Festival Director in consultation with festival programming colleagues to a show they think deserves to be celebrated;

WINNER: Wil Anderson – Wilogical and Bronwyn Kuss – Any Goss?

The People’s Choice Award

-for the most popular show of the Festival as determined by the ticket buying public;

WINNER: Urzila Carlson – It’s Personal!

The Pinder Prize

– honouring Festival co-founder John Pinder, and supporting a performer to travel to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

WINNER: Danielle Walker Nostalgia

The Piece of Wood

– comics’ choice award, selected by past winners and presented to a peer literally for “doin’ good stuff ‘n’ that”

WINNER: Tina Del Twist!

The Raw Comedy National Grand Final 2018

By Hooi Khaw 

After judging more than 1000 entrants, Raw Comedy brings 12 national finalists to the stage to compete for the opportunity to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The Raw Comedy National Grand Final is hosted by the amicable Ivan Aristeguieta who is warm and personable, and keeps the energy high for all of the contestants throughout the show.

Gavin Sempel starts the show, immediately getting the audience onside with commentary about his slender appearance, moving onto humorous anecdotes from his life. Having seen his set at the state finals, there is something in his delivery that is still joyfully entertaining to watch the second time around.

Sian Smyth follows next, with some polarizing punch lines. The topics span from social work, to porn, to Gandhi, and she provokes both cheers and groans from the audience at different points.

The third contestant is Jane New, whose distinctive stage persona could be easily attributed to nerves. She distinguishes herself as a writer, rather than a comedian, and she gets sprinkled laughter as the crowd warms to her particular brand of humour.

Alex Hall-Evans starts the second bracket speaking of sexiness, and his humour seems typically millennial. Hall-Evans interacts well with the crowd, and generously applies hyperbole to get the laughs.

Next up is Emma Holland who uses a paper fortuneteller to warm up the crowd. She succeeds with weirdly specific questions, and the genius is in the deliberately warped assumptions inherent in those questions. Holland then moves onto translating emojis for the crowd, and the explanations get progressively more absurd as she cycles through them.

Scout Boxall follows next, specializing in earnest set ups, which are then contrasted with on the nose absurdity. The laughs come from hitting the target of the criteria that Boxall has set, but also from the weird exploration of the themes, and the contrast between them. Boxall is a standout, closing her set with the only musical number of the show.

Bronwyn Kuss is deadpan in discussing body image and self esteem, but there is something unconvincing in the delivery that the audience struggles to relate to.

Next, Emo bursts onto the stage with a strong stage presence, interacting with the crowd, and mining themes of race, and sex for comedy. Although the material is not the most original from the night, Emo gets the crowd laughing with his charisma and classic jokes.

Ryan McArthur follows with his set focused on awkward experiences. The first example lands well, and the audience audibly relates. From there it starts to feel more like someone venting about experiences that they can’t let go of, and the audience is unwilling to follow McArthur down this path of indulgence.

Matthew Vasquez starts the last bracket with some racial humour relating to his South American heritage. Vasquez’s style is distinctive, in that he seems to say a punch line, and hold for applause or laughter. It’s surprising to see how often this pays off, and you can hear the audience catching up with Vasquez’s thoughts as pockets of laughter start bursting in the crowd during the pause.

Bec Melrose delivers one of the more varied sets of the night. With cleverly constructed jokes, Melrose explores issues of gender, politics, and productivity with a clear point of view.

The last contestant for the night is Kevin Jin, who speaks mostly about race and dating. Although these topics are frequently visited in stand up, Jin is still able to surprise and delight with his take on these. Jin has an affable style, and his comedy is easy to enjoy.

Without spoiling the big reveal for when the Raw Comedy National Grand Final is aired on SBS, it is safe to say that there was fierce competition this night, and throughout the state level heats. Although only one lucky winner gets the prize of a trip to Edinburgh, it’s clear that there is a bright future ahead of all of these brave, funny, and clever stand ups.

Raw Comedy National Grand Final was on April 15 at The Melbourne Town Hall.