Meet Cassandra Barbitol, an eccentric, deluded dame of the stage with a tale to tell. Woman of the Hour is her story: that of a faded but still glittering star. It’s the demented love child of Grey Gardens and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
2. One woman plays 35 characters.
Yes, I (Sophie Joske, writer and performer) play not only Cassandra Barbitoll but 34 other characters as well. There are no other actors, no set, no props, and no costume changes. Reading this I’m sure you can tell that that’s either very good or very bad. Either way, worth witnessing the spectacle. However:
3. It is really good. I’m a weird theatre comedy professional and last year I got nominated for the Golden Gibbo, the year before that I was nominated for Best Comedy at FRINGE WORLD in Perth and I’ve sold out a bunch of shows there too. This show in particular is very good. It was only on for 3 nights in Perth and it got two five star reviews! That makes it a ten star show!4. It’s a feminist good time!
It’s surely not surprising that a show called Woman of the Hour has a strong feminist bent. It’s all about the roles women are made to play in performing their gender- in show business and in life. You get to laugh a bunch AND smash the patriarchy!
5. There’s a dinosaur. Yep. Check it out.
Sophie Joske performs Woman of the Hour at The Butterfly Club April 1-11, 7pm
This year instead of being presented in the middle of the night at the Festival Club as is traditional, The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards were instead presented at 1pm in the afternoon at Belleville. It was more relaxed and civilised with drinks and nibblies (and better lighting for photos) and it was great knowing that everyone in the room was involved and invested in the results, but sort of sad that it was restricted to invite only. I was very lucky to be invited, but other fans on the rim of the festival, but just as invested would have been sad (as I was when this happened once in the past) to not be a part of that middle of the night wild excitement and joy when a favourite, or someone you’ve discovered wins an award.
I can’t deny that there was some surprise as well as delight for Sam Campbell’s win. Although he has been performing in Sydney for a while and getting some TV work (you may have seen him on The Checkout), he’s still pretty much under the radar of the general public. We fell in love with his work when we saw Zanzoop! early in it’s run in 2016 and spent the rest of the Festival telling anyone who would listen that they should go and see the strange talk show hosted by a wise cracking alien in a back alley nightclub. This year we loved both shows he was involved with; his own, The Trough and Anne Edmond’s Helen Bidou – Enter the Spinnaker Lounge where he played Helen’s long suffering, very awkward son Connor.
2018 AWARD WINNERS
Barry Award, for the best show: Sam Campbell The Trough
Nominees for The Barry Award:
Alex Edelman (USA)- Just for Us
Anne Edmonds – as Helen Bidou – Enter the Spinaker Lounge
Tim Key (UK) – Megadate
Lano & Woodley (Colin Lane and Frank Woodley) – Fly!
Rose Matafeo (NZ) – Horndog!
Celia Pacquola – All Talk
Natalie Palamides (USA) – Laid
The Best Newcomer: Danielle Walker Bush Rat
This award was presented by Sarah Dodds of Soho Theatre who will be bringing Danielle to London to make her Debut at The Soho Theatre.
Nominees for The Best Newcomer Award:
Paul Williams(NZ) – Summertime Love
Stephanie Tisdell – Identity Steft
Garry Starr – Performs Everything
Lewis Garnham – The Smartest Idiot You’ll Ever Meet
Nadia Collins – Virgin Bloody Mary
The Golden Gibbo Award (for an artistic independent production):
Cam Venn for Charles Horse Lays An Egg
The prize is a Bottle of Red Wine and was presented by Lynda Gibson’s Niece Emma Maye Gibson, also known as Betty Grumble
Nominees for The Golden Gibbo Award:
Sophie Joske and Anna Piper Scott – Almost Lesbians
Garry Starr – Performs Everything
Julia Rorke & Elysia Hall – Not Another F***** B**** In India
Michelle Brasier & Laura Frew
(Double Denim) – Double Denim AdventureShow]
People’s Choice Award: Lano & Woodley – Fly!
This award signifies that Fly! sold the most tickets at this year’s Festival.
The Directors’ Choice Award: Michelle Brasier and Laura Frew for Double Denim Adventure Show
The Pinder Prize: Demi Lardner – I Love Skeleton
This Award funds her trip to the Edinburgh Fringe
to perform at Assembly Festival.
Piece of Wood Award (Peer Award from other comedians): Heath Franklin – Bogan Jesus
Funny Tonne Winner: Alasdair Bryant (76 Shows)
Deadly Funny National Grand Final winner: Leon Filewood (QLD)
RAW Comedy Grand Final Winner: Bec Melrose (NSW)
Bec has won a trip to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival to compete in So You Think You’re Funny?. RAW Runners-Up: Gavin Sempel (VIC), Emma Holland (ACT)
Class Clowns National Grand Final Winners Liam Adam, Carlin Carruth & Kyle Bennett (QLD) as ‘Awkward’! Class Clowns Runners-Up:
Dusty Diddle (VIC),
Nina Cowley-Mousinho (QLD)
Shiloh Rea (QLD)
Nicholas Doring (NSW)
Somehow, I’ve managed to see a lot more straight male comedy at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival than I usually do. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it was like a cool drink of water on a hot day for me to experience Almost Lesbians at the Imperial Hotel. The delightful double act of Sophie Joske and Anna Piper Scott are here to share their stories, have a lot of fun with gendered politics and more importantly make you laugh.
The comedy duo of Sophie and Anna hail from Perth and have a fantastic best friend type rapport. They make a great double act of Anna as sarky straight man /woman, (Goodness, we need another less gendered term for this!) and Sophie as the wacky 2nd Banana constantly in danger of taking the show off the rails. Of course there’s a place in the show where these roles become reversed, proving that comedy like sexuality can be creatively fluid. The girls have thrown everything at this, costumes, wigs, characters, singing, dance, drag show inspired lip-synching, audio visual gags and all of it actually runs very smoothly.
Almost Lesbians is an early show with a late night vibe. They do a great job creating a gay nightclub atmosphere and show how the intrusion of even well-meaning straight people into this world can sometimes be annoying to downright offensive. The impression of a drunk cis straight young woman in a gay bar was one of the funniest I’ve seen.
There is a dark underbelly to Almost Lesbians, but never too dark, often it’s just downright silly and has a sweet and warm heart. This isn’t the most polished show in the Festival and could probably do with a bit of editing, but sometimes a show that’s a bit rough around the edges can be a refreshing experience, like it’s performers. Sophie and Anna are fairly new on the scene and I hope to see a lot more of them in the future.
Almost Lesbians is on at The Imperial until April 8