Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night

By Lisa Clark Ali McGregor

This is the tenth year of Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night and it’s still going strong in the Spiegeltent at the Arts Centre. Always a wonderful way to catch some of the best quirky acts from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival handpicked by our gorgeous host.

Ali delights us with her spine tingling takes on gorgeous songs in between reclining on her Chaise Longue to enjoy the work of her Guests.  The Guests are mostly inclined towards Cabaret, clever circus or quirky standup. Ali is supported by a delightful Jazz band who enjoy the show as well.

We had current cabaret sensation Gillian Cosgrove doing a few numbers at the piano, including one about yoga. She’s fabulous and my friend has recently become a massive fan since seeing her current show at the festival.Ali McGregor's Variety Night

Jan Van de Stool, a character who would not be out of place in an episode of Kath and Kim, who usually apparently teaches singing, provides a little variety by dragging two teams of audience members on stage and have them compete at peeling and eating an apple. The joke was that this was an actual game described in a vintage “Party Games for Adults” book and it was as stupid and pointless as it sounds. Jan doesn’t do this in her own show which is a relief, but the audience enjoyed it and she carried it off.

Mario Queen of the Circus was Queen’s biggest fan and is a much sharper level of comedy character. Dressed as Freddy Mercury, an outrageous flirt and brilliant juggler, his act was clever, slick, weird and surprisingly wildly entertaining.

Tim Vine pummelled us with an avalanche of his brilliant one-liners then did the breathtaking Pen Behind the Ear bit with success. Hussah!

The highlight of the evening though, returning to Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night, was Asher Treleaven. In the past he has been her faithful butler Saxon McCallister, tonight he was The Sexual Gentleman and gave us the most impressive and sexy juggling (of the diablo) I’ve ever seen and one of his best readings of a Mills & Boon ever. It had the audience, the band and Ali howling with laughter.

It can be really hard to give or take a recommendation for a MICF show worth seeing. It depends on each person’s taste, but if you like your comedy on the offbeat and a bit of top class cabaret you are going to have a great time and hopefully become a fan of a new act and go see their full show.

Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night is showing on weekends at The Famous Spiegeltent at Arts Centre Melbourne

For more informations see the MICF website:

The Tim Vine Chat Show

By Jayden Edwards

Star of the UK’s The Sketch Show and international Pun-slinger, Tim Vine is back at the comedy festival with another round of rapid fire one liners, clever musical stings and visual gags.

In Tim’s new show, he bundles his usual pun mastery with some conversational audience participation, inviting punters to fill out a questionnaire before the show then inviting those with the best stories to come up on stage. Hence the title The Tim Vine Chat Show.

The first half of the show is Tim at his best. “There’s no satire here, folks” Tim proclaims as he powers through his material. Tim fires off pun after pun scattered with some musical and visual stuff. Although we did miss out on his jump rope gag. “Think i’ll skip that one” he explained. His delivery is childlike and beautifully daggy, suiting his sometimes borderline daggy dad jokes, but the laughter always outweighs the groans. His suit and half untucked shirt only bolsters his style. There’s so much content here, and so much quality, you can’t lose really.

In the back end of the show the chat element comes into play and, unusually for a Vine show, the pace slows. For our performance Tim invites onto stage a Physiotherapist who told of an unfortunate encounter with a Sand Fly whilst overseas, a former children’s entertainer, a Radio DJ with a story of an awkward interview with a language barrier (“A bit like this one” he cheekily sugguested) and a incredibly secretive Transport Operations Manager.

It’s always a risk to entrust a large chunk of your show to the quality of the stories of your audience and i’m sure with the right audience there’s potential for some killer content here, but on this particular night i’m not sure it worked. Tim struggled a little bit to get material out of some of his guests, especially Jeanine the Transport Operations Manager, who just didn’t want to play the game. Tim fell back on some loosely related material to get himself out of a bind on a few occasions. Maybe some games or “segments” thrown in with the interviews would be more suited to his style?

There’s no question Tim Vine is a brilliant, witty scripted comic but his interviewing and improv just wasn’t as strong. It’s a shame as it hampers an otherwise hilarious show. But such is the nature of improv; comedy gold could be hiding amongst your fellow crowd members. Tim’s worth the punt.

The Tim Vine Chat Show is on at the Melb Town Hall – Lower Town Hall until April 20