Steve Bugeja – Summer Camp

By Lisa Clark

I chose Steve Bujega’s show because it is about working at an American Summer Camp. My friend worked at one several years ago and I was looking forward to a comedy show about all the ins and outs of taking part. This however was more of a personal journey about a very specific kind of Summer Camp for kids with autism, where Steve at only 18 took care of only one specific child for seven weeks. Gosh suddenly it looked like we were in for a pretty meaty journey, but it all turned out pretty light and amusing.

Steve at 18 was way more preoccupied with losing his virtue and dropping his nerdy reputation than worrying about the onerous task ahead. For someone from a dysfunctional family suddenly being a parent for a teenager with autism who you’ve never met before is pretty huge. The tale does turn out to be pretty engrossing and Steve sells it in a mostly engaging and energetic fashion, though there is more insight into the kids at the camp than Steve himself.

Early on Steve describes himself as a victim of serious bullying at school, which makes it extra weird that he picks out a punter in the front row to use as his verbal punching bag. At one point he literally takes out all of his anger against his absent father on him shouting angrily inches away from his face. Steve gains guilty laughs from the audience and laughs it off but we can’t see the audience member’s face and Steve continues to bring him into the show. The lowest point of the show was when Steve described his Camp cabin mate as a complete arsehole, looks down and says ‘You probably would’ve got on with him’. Why a perfectly nice history teacher who comes out to see Steve’s comedy festival show deserves this constant low grade harassment is beyond me. Maybe Steve wrote this with a drunken heckler in mind, but this is not Edinburgh and we are all perfectly polite in the Melbourne Town Hall. I guess it does get some cheap laughs and is a fairly common old school trope with comedians but in this context it didn’t work and rather broke down Steve’s good will for me.

The set is simple and lovely, reflecting the subject matter. His use of pin board and photos also fit with the theme and help to tell his tale but as I could barely see them from the second row, a large screen might’ve helped. Or bigger posters. School Camp is an entertaining coming of age story, where it is the kids rather than the performer who come of age. In the end there is an acknowledgment of this, but I think it runs deeper than Steve is willing to admit.

Summer Camp is on at the Melbourne Town Hall- Cloak Room until April 22

Comedians’ Cinema Club

By Ron Bingham
comedians cinema club
It’s here at the festival again. The maddest silliest most anarchic group of randon comedians acting out a cinematic blockbuster that they, and possibly you, haven’t seen. Last year I saw Aliens and Back To The Future II. This time I was lucky enough to see a film that I had not seen on the big screen (nor, apparently, had the cast or most of the audience – it appears to have been popular only with people without a sense of humour?), AVATAR.

The board out the front of the venue told us that the cast for today consisted of Yianni Agisiliaou, Kai Humphries, Milo McCabe, Steve Bugeja, Stephen Bailey, Elf Lyons and Will Seaward. I know Elf hadn’t turned up (having seen her an hour earlier) and someone else was a no-show as there were only five “stars”. I’d try and give the plot of the film but, if you’ve seen it, you know it better than I do and, if you haven’t, you wouldn’t believe me…. although they kept referring to Fern Gully and there was something about plugging hair into trees and jumping onto flying lizards and floating rocks. the cast dragged a couple of young lads out of the front row (yes the audience WILL be part of the action, so get your acting boots on or hide down the back) to play their avatars. We had to be trees and make jungle noises and stuff, there was a lot of running round the little room and much hilarity was had by all.

If you get a chance to see it, or you would like to see one of your favourite films butchered beyond belief by a bunch of (slightly tipsy) comedians, then this is the choice you have for the rest of the festival:

21st Lord of the Rings trilogy
22nd Hunchback of Notre Dame
23rd Cool Runnings
24th Silence of the Lambs
25th From Dusk ’til Dawn
26th Free Willy
27th Interview with a Vampire
29th Saving Private Ryan
30th The Wizard of Oz.