Clem Bastow – Escape From L.A.

By Elyce Phillips Escape from LA pic

After a run at Bar Open during the Melbourne Fringe, Clem Bastow has brought a new and improved version of Escape From L.A. to the Comedy Festival. For those who missed it the first time around, Bastow tells her story of fleeing to East Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming a screenwriter. After two years spent scripting in coffee shops, Bastow returned to Australia with a newly-diagnosed mental illness and a wealth of comedy material.

This version of the show is more polished, but still chaotic. You walk in to see Bastow dressed as Dorothy, sitting in her own Oz of L.A., reading Robert McKee and surrounded by scatterings of Starbucks trash. An opening burst of sound effects and snippets of film dialogue from DJ Slig, Bastow’s brother, is as loud and disorienting as the most hectic action sequence of a Hollywood blockbuster. The new set and props add to the mess and distress of Escape From L.A. They’re a wonderfully trashy complement to tales from a trashy city. The antagonistic relationship between Bastow and Slig remains, the latter repeatedly interrupting Bastow with sound effects and unasked-for opinions. Bastow’s stories are well-crafted, relatable and had the audience laughing the whole way through.

The biggest improvement to this iteration of the show is the addition of some new sound pieces, produced by Slig. An extended mental crisis/fantasy acceptance speech sequence during a Kundalini yoga session perfectly straddled the line between discomfort and humour. The pieces pair really well with Bastow’s storytelling and work to simultaneously give the show structure and set it on edge.

Escape From L.A. is even better in its Comedy Festival form.  It’s a show about things not going to plan where things don’t always go to plan. If you’re up for a little mayhem, this is the show for you.

Clem Bastow – Escape From L.A. is on at the Imperial Hotel until April 19

Squirrel Comedy’s Recommended and Previously Reviewed Shows at Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2015

By Lisa Clark

Well the Squirrels are getting ruffled up and ready for autumn nut collecting. And comedy reviewing. There are soooo many shows on offer at the 2015 Melbourne International comedy Festival and it can be very difficult for us to see everything we want to see, let alone review everything we want to review. For those readers who are planning their Festival schedules and are in need of help, we have some good news: Squirrel Comedy has previously reviewed thirty of this year’s shows and we have laid out links to all those reviews below.


First Up here are some brilliant shows I previously saw & loved but Squirrel Comedy hasn’t reviewed.

I recommend you see:Claire Hooper School Camp

Claire Hooper’s School Camp

Claire takes us back to school days in a raw & truthful way where nostalgia takes some surprising and dark turns that make this show very special.


Celia Pacquola – Let Me Know How It All Works Out.

Celia’s show about fortune telling and her international lifestyle was another of Celia’s crowd-pleasing corkers.
Celia Pac Let me Know

Barry Nominated last year as word got around it was selling out like hotcakes, so if you weren’t lucky enough to see this gorgeous show better book now.


Denise Scott – Mother Bare

Denise deservedly won the Barry Award last year for her droll and often riotous reflections on motherhood and other aspects of her comedic life.Denise Scott Mother Bare pic

She’s only doing four shows this year at the fan friendly time of 4.30 Sundays, so get your tickets early.



And now for shows that we have previously reviewed.

Particular highlights this year that I can also recommend include:

Are You Afraid of the Dark by Watson Watson Afraid of the Dark

Watson’s funny and occasionally genuinely scary show is not for those with a nervous disposition or heart condition but my goodness it is a monstrous load of fun. It can only fit smallish audiences into the space at the Old Melbourne Gaol so book early, I hear the first week is booking out fast. Not surprising as this show won Best Comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and considering it is site specific it is one you will have to come to Melbourne to see.


Bart Freebairn Ultra Power LordBart Freebairn pic

Bart is a comedian at the top of his game just waiting to be discovered by the mainstream. I get the joyful shivers when I see a stand up comedian reach a point where they can host a room and own it keeping everyone rolling with laughter non stop. Bart is there and I hope everyone loves Ultra Power Lord as much as I did at Fringe last year.


Bucket’s List by Sarah Collins starring Justin Kennedybuckets list

Buckets List is a whimsical, beautiful and of course very funny tale with a star turn by the amazing Justin Kennedy (who we just don’t see enough of on the circuit any more – I miss him, but if this is the sort of work he’s producing then I’ll forgive his absence). Justin is blessed with the ability to make an audience laugh without saying a word and when I see independent theatre this good I think our major theatre companies should have a good hard look at themselves.


Damian Callinan – The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy CallinanPaddy Callinan

A perfect show for this anniversary of ANZAC it’s another comedy character tour de force by Damian where truth and tall tales blur with loads of laughs and a streak of darkness. The true spirit of the ANZAC is thoroughly celebrated.


We can’t wait to discover new exciting comedy at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival  but meanwhile

Here’s the full list with links of those we reviewed earlier:

The 13–Storey Treehouse

Anthony Jeannot is Unaccept-a-bubble

Bart Freebairn: Ultra Power Lord

Clem Bastow – Escape From LA

Damian Callinan – The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy Callinan

Dr Brown – Befrdfgth

Dylan Cole – The Moon in Me

Fancy Boy Variety Show

Faulty Towers – The Dining Experience

Geraldine Hickey – Listen Out For The Castanets

I Love Green Guide Letters Live

Justin Kennedy – Bucket’s List

Late Night Letters and Numbers

Lee Naimo – Finding Lee

Lisa-Skye’s Lovely Tea Party

The Little Dum Dum Club Live

Luke McGregor – I Worry That I Worry Too Much

Mark Butler – Grammar don’t matter on a first date

Political Asylum – Late Night Riot

Sam Rankin – Wake Up, Sheeple! (2.0)

The Sexy Detectives – Mono Logs

The Sound of Nazis

The Umbilical Brothers – KiDSHoW – Not Suitable for Children

Stuart Daulman is an Absolute Credit

Stew Walker – A Hard Day’s Night of Beatles Parodies

Gary Portenza: Apologies in Advance

Set List

Watson – Who’s Afraid of the Dark

World Record Show with Andy Matthews, Adam Knox and Dave Warneke

Zoe Coombs Marr – Dave


Clem Bastow – Escape From L.A.

By Elyce Phillips

When she was 13 years old, Clem Bastow decided she was going to move to Hollywood and become a screenwriter. Over a decade later, she put her plan into motion and set off for East LA with a work visa and a dream. Not everything went to plan. An existential crisis or two was had. Now back in Melbourne, Bastow may not have an Oscar, but she does have an hour of terrific comedy.

Escape From LA is bittersweet. The realities of making it in the entertainment business may be harsh, but Bastow has transformed them into something hilarious, from tales of working the junket circuit, to assisting friendly gangstas, to the constant anxiety-inducing threat of earthquakes. DJ Slig (complete with Oddworld-style gas mask) runs interference on the soundboard throughout. The zany sound effects clash wonderfully with the more sombre material in the show, even if they’re overzealous at times. Paired with the occasional light show, it’s trashy, over-the-top, and befitting of a show about Hollywood. Bastow and Slig have a belligerent chemistry that adds a layer of anarchy to the mood created.

In the later half of the show, Bastow’s tale of her search for an identity was very relatable. As someone who currently has some abandoned derby skates, a Final Fantasy costume and a Russian Punch Embroidery kit languishing in her cupboard, it almost got a bit too real. While her material deals with very personal, difficult moments in her recent past, her delivery is spot-on and you never feel uncomfortable about laughing.

Escape From LA is an honest and cleverly written piece from a talented performer, encapsulating the chaotic highs and lows of the Hollywood experience. Bastow has created a fantastic show here, and it’s well worth checking out before the Fringe ends.

Clem Bastow – Escape From LA is on at Bar Open until October 4

5 Good Reasons to see ESCAPE FROM L.A by Clem Bastow

Thinking of crossing the pond for a holiday? Always meant to write that screenplay? Wondering just how much truth was in Katy Perry’s California Gurls? A trip to Escape From L.A will be highly educational.

No, he really does. And his eyes glow red. And he likes confetti. So if for some reason you get tired of looking at Clem’s exceptional collection of jingoistic USA tourist t-shirts, you can look at DJ Slig instead.

It is, to my knowledge at least, the only Fringe comedy show that combines standup, sound art, printed money, Starbucks iced tea, and soundbites from Die Hard.

You can drink while you laugh. Or drink while you don’t laugh. Or just drink until you laugh. Whatever, you’re an adult, I’m not your dad!!

Well, he technically said “Clem is like the female Don Draper, secretly drunk hitting on secretaries with a five o’clock shadow”, but YOU KNOW.

For tickets and more information check the Fringe Website:


1. It’s an all-female showcase show, which means nobody has to hear from dudebros that are like “my girlfriend likes throw pillows!” or “women be shopping!” etc, etc, ad nauseum.

2. Every night will be a totally different line-up, with a few massive theme nights thrown in for good measure. Slumber Party, anyone?

3. We’ve got a truckload of acts already in, like Clem Bastow, Nicolette Minster (Girls Uninterrupted), Lou Sanz, Tessa Waters, Claire Sullivan, Kate Boston-Smith and many, many more. Aww yiss!

4. It’s not just comedy, either; we’ll have acts doing burlesque, spoken word, music, sketches, theatre, characters and anything else you can think of.

5. Most importantly, it’s a fun, welcoming night run by women for whom feminism and entertainment are major passions. Made with love, for you!

For Information and tickets see the Melbourne Fringe website: