Virtually Funny

By Colin Flaherty

Virtually Funny… sorry, “The Melbourne International Very Serious Short Film Festival” provided plenty of laughs even though the sign at the venue stated that a serious art event lay beyond its doors. You knew you were in for a good time when the house music consisted of kitchy covers of the classic tune “Popcorn”.

First up was a bit of French New Wave by Marcel Lucont with plenty of his trademark arrogance and disdane which was being translated into Aussie for the audince’s benefit. When Marcel’s displeasure extended beyond the screen, you knew we were in for something special.

Next was Bec Hill performing her crowd pleasing flip chart illustrations of the lyrics to Piaf’s Je Ne Regrette Rien. This riotious routine started out normally but soon desended into some third diamension lunancy that added a whole new flavour to the piece.

Natalie Palamides presented an attempt at “philosophical musing” involving a herculean task of housework. This was played wonderfully straight so that when elements of the film invaded the audience it was a joy to behold.

Michelle Brasier and Josh Glanc provided some culture with a performance of Romeo & Juliet: Act 5, Scene 3. Hammy overacting and character breaking had us in stitches while lines and stage directions were changed on the fly with riotous results.

“Cinema Staff” Shari and Garry filled in for some “technical glitches” with a spot of karaoke but were soon interrupted by some unsavory foreigners (played by Viggo Venn and Julia Masli onscreen with in the flesh menace provided by David Tieck). We were treated to some cartoon violence, a strange rap performance and wacky love triangle (or was it a pentangle?).

Virtually Funny had shades of “The Show That Goes Wrong” with the in person team trying to hold things together as film and reality broke down. Our host (played by Janet A McLeod) was the arty farty type trying to maintain a veneer of high brow culture in the face of the chaos. The loveable dogsbody characters played by Tieck and Sharnema Nougar (of Two Little Dickheads fame), and Garry Starr offered plenty of help but fell hilariously short. The physical cast were run off their feet reacting to every breaking of the the fourth wall (or is it screen demolition?). Some of the reaction to cues were a little clunky but they pulled through on charm.

A brilliantly ambitious and inventive merger of film and live action, this show employed plenty of visual trickery to bring the filmic action into our laps. Congrats to the local team and the filmmakers for pulling off a hilarious tour de force.

Virtually Funny is on at Loop Project Space & Bar every Friday and Saturday until April 17

5 Good Reasons to See Marcel Lucont’s Whine List

1. Future generations will gather round to ask which night of Marcel Lucont’s Whine List you attended during it’s all-too-brief two-week run, and what occurred. While those who were too late to buy tickets will weave false stories, you must be one of the ones spreading the truth and sharing these tales of comedic majesty.

2. Current generations will call you a dick if you do not.

3. Si vous lisez ceci, vous êtes déjà plus qualifié pour voir ce spectacle que la plupart de vos compatriotes, qui ne pouvaient pas faire la différence entre une baguette et un bateau.

4. When has a journalist ever lied to you?
“A must-see” – Herald Sun. “An absolute must-see” -The West Australian. “An essential Fringe show” – The Skinny, Edinburgh Fringe. “One of the highlights of this Fringe” – EdFringe Review. “Very clever” – Squirrel Comedy.

5. Society probably does not have much longer left, enjoy this peak of human culture while you can. Then begin work on your bunker. Again.

Marcel Lucont’s Whine List is on at The Cooper’s Malthouse – Beckett Theatre until April 22

Marcel Lucont : Gallic Symbol

By Lisa Clark

I went in to see Marcel Lucont with some trepidation. I’ve seen Marcel in short bursts and have had mixed feelings about his act. It’s never clear if he’s a specific parody and the character teeters dangerously on the edge of being offensive to French people. At the same time it is a brilliantly realised character in the way that Dame Edna or Borat is, but lacking in the supreme grotesqueness that absurdly makes their abhorrent behaviour more palatable because it is so extreme that it is ridiculous. The important thing that I noticed during Gallic Symbol, however, was that despite my wariness, he made me laugh, a lot.

Alexis Dubus is an English comedian performing as himself in a separate spoken word show in the festival,who could not be more different from the character he created. Marcel Lucont is a sleazy, arrogant, walking French cliché who sneers at his audience (unless they are attractive ladies) with red wine in hand and constantly reminds you about how lucky you are to be in his presence, and in general, the audience laps it up. It has obviously become a very popular character for him and is probably more well-known than he is.

Marcel’s charm is undeniable, and Alexis who is a witty, clever wordsmith, certainly has a lot of fun playing him. To break up what might in lesser hands be a fairly one joke sort of show, Marcel sings songs, reads poetry, reads his autobiography, and performs in filmed skits. He’s a good singer and his songs are amusing and occasionally laugh out loud funny but there is little point to them other than to underline Marcel’s personality. The opening filmed sequence of him running to the show has been done many times now, (I first saw it in a show in 2006 and think it’s been officially done to death.) but the final filmed piece which is a call back to a throwaway line about New Zealand is delightfully brilliant.

Other highlights include a very silly and smart lecture on sex positions that finally got the mostly unimpressed person next to me laughing and the apex of his performance was Marcel doing a so/so impression of an English comedian telling jokes and in the process deconstructing joke telling and becoming very meta. It was a breathtaking, awesome moment that for me makes the show worth the price of admission.

The set is dressed with Chaise lounge, old fashioned suitcases & valises and a vintage dressing table. This and a mockup record album of songs adds to the sense that this show (or perhaps Marcel himself) is set in the past. At times it felt only slightly more sophisticated than a character from ‘Allo ‘Allo or a 1970s film or TV character constantly surrounded by scantily clad anonymous girls with no other purpose than just throwing themselves at him.

The sexism clearly belongs to the character rather than the performer and his enjoyment of sex is usually pretty positive, but the fact that the character is made up of only the worst traits attributed to French people is deeper and more troublesome for me. The character certainly plays to centuries of antagonism between the French and the English, though perhaps in the UK his mocking of the English helps balance it out. I’ve been impressed in the past by Marcel’s surprising ability to control even the rowdiest crowd. His dry, gentle style forces the audience to pay attention. But tonight the audience participation does not go so well. The show ends with Marcel reading out audience member’s tweets and most people in the audience are quiet, intimidated by his sharp tongue, which is not surprising after he catches someone out for pretending to be French. I’m sure he enjoyed the irony of an Englishman pretended to be a Frenchman berating a person for pretending to speak French as much as we did.

I admire Alexis’ acting and the fact that people can be sucked in by the character, believing him to be a real person. At the same time, because he is such a negative character lacking any wink to the audience, I cannot help but compare him unfavourably to Kenny Everett’s gleefully playful Marcel Wave and UK faux French cabaret duo Priorite au Gauche (who were occasionally political, delightfully silly and not unlike Flight of the Conchords).

Overall Alexis has put a lot of work into what is generally a pretty enjoyable show and spending an hour with Marcel Lucont is not without its pleasures. The humour mostly works and the audience doesn’t mind being gently insulted by him. For me the same jokes played differently over an hour wear a little thin but the highlights suggest there could be interesting places for Marcel to venture into the future.

Gallic Symbol is on at The Tuxedo Cat until April 20

Shows at the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival previously reviewed by Squirrel Comedy

By Colin Flaherty

It’s not long until the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival gets into full swing. To assist you in navigating the colossal program, here are 26 shows that we have reviewed in other festivals. Keep in mind that all shows will have undergone a fair bit of spit and polish since we last saw them.

2014 – When We Were Idiots: A Comedy Walking Tour Hosted by Xavier Toby
Burke & Wills Statue, City Square (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Alexis Simmonds 0-9 Tales of a Straight, Single Cat Lady
Comedy On Collins (MICF 2013)

Andy Matthews – String Theory
ACMI – Games Room (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

The Boy With Tape on His Face – More Tape
Forum Theatre – Upstairs (Adelaide Fringe 2014)

Cam Knight – 100 Percenter
The Upstairs Lounge @ Hairy Little Sista (Adelaide Fringe 2014)

CJ Delling – Reality Bandit
The Bull and Bear Tavern (Adelaide Fringe 2014)

FanFiction Comedy
Melb Town Hall – Cloak Room (Edinburgh Fringe 2013) & (MICF 2013)

Impromptunes: The Completely Improvised Musical
Trades Hall – The Annexe (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

The Improv Conspiracy : A Night in Chicago
The Croft Institute (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Marek Platek : Wormhole
The Provincial Hotel (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Juliette Burton – When I Grow Up
Trades Hall – The Meeting Room (Edinburgh Fringe 2013)

Late Night Letters and Numbers
Melb Town Hall – Powder Room (MICF 2013)

The Little Dum Dum Club Live Podcasts! Five Boroughs
(MICF 2013)

Marcel Lucont : Gallic Symbol
The Tuxedo Cat (Adelaide Fringe 2013)

Nellie White is The Shitty Carer
Imperial Hotel (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Political Asylum Late Night Riot!
Melb Town Hall – Supper Room (MICF 2013)

Pop Mashup : Happy Birthday Doctor
The Butterfly Club (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Radio Variety Hour
Comedy On Collins (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Rhys Nicholson – Eurgh
Portland Hotel – Gold Room (Adelaide Fringe 2014)

Sam Allen & Chris Harrigan Inside the Egg: The Life of Anne Geddes’ Prisoner Children
ACMI – Games Room (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Set List
Melb Town Hall – Lower Town Hall & Victoria Hotel – Vic’s Bar
ttp:// (MICF 2013)

Simon Taylor : Funny
Imperial Hotel (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Sitcom Theme Song Singalong and Trivia
The Provincial Hotel & Imperial Hotel (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Stephen Hall : Raiders of the Temple of Doom’s Last Crusade
Comedy On Collins (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Wizard Sandwiches : The Last Lunch
Trades Hall – The Music Room (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Wolf Creek : The Musical
Trades Hall – Old Council Chambers (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Marcel Lucont – Gallic Symbol

By Cathy Culliver

Marcel Lucont probably doesn’t even need anyone to review his show. He’s already a pretty vocal and enthusiastic supporter of himself. As he reminds the audience, if you enjoy his show, you are correct.

The suave Frenchman bills himself as a classic specimen of a man, irresistible to women and supremely talented in, well, everything. His new show Gallic Symbol opens with him singing “I’m so much better than you”, just in case you were, you know, having any initial doubts.

Monsieur Lucont is of course just a character played by UK native Alexis Dubus, but you could be forgiven for being duped into thinking this really is a Frenchman who really does think that much of himself.

Dubus has the character down pat; the clothes, the bare feet, the glass of red wine cradled in one hand … not to mention the general air of arrogance and disgust for everything that is not French. It’s all utterly convincing and completely hilarious.

And such is Dubus’ mastery of the French accent that at one point Marcel performs a mocking impersonation of an Englishman; if you bear in mind this is actually an Englishman impersonating a Frenchman impersonating an Englishman, that’s no mean feat.

The show itself is a mixture of songs, poetry and stand up, all seemingly to serve one purpose: to point out to the rest of the world where we’re all going wrong, and to tell us what we can learn from the French.

What’s amazing however is that Marcel Lucont still comes off a very likeable, dare I say even loveable, character. Maybe it’s his confidence, and his “f**k that” attitude to life. Nothing can rattle him, not even jumping out of a plane; he’s just too damn sophisticated and French for that.

This is a very funny, very clever show. Marcel Lucont is no doubt destined for great things (as I’m sure he also firmly believes) so make sure you catch him while he is still honouring us with his presence in Australia.


Marcel Lucont – Gallic Symbol  is on for the full run of the Adelaide Fringe Festival at Tuxedo Cat.