Dr. Pam Rana & Tom Lang : Meatbags

By Colin FlahertyMeatbags

With a show about the human body they couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate venue than the Science Lab themed bar The Croft Institute. Taking us around the human body, Dr Pam Rana (an actual qualified medical doctor!) and Tom Lang (not a doctor!) described the various systems that make us tick. Through interesting facts, bizarre anecdotes and hilariously graphic analogies, we were educated as well as entertained.

This comedic lecture was an informal affair that almost belied the strong scientific basis of the show, making it clearly aimed at the lay-person not just the science geek. The crudely drawn PowerPoint slides added a home-made aesthetic and reinforced the light-hearted nature of the show.

There were a few eye opening tales of surgery and research that were in the ‘strange but true’ basket and plenty of bodily facts described using various pop culture references. Only a couple were cringe inducing so the squeamish needn’t be took worried. Puns were used at every available instance, some were impressive while others were suitably corny.

Rana was a ball of energy and came across as a cheeky child rather than a respectable doctor. Her onstage persona regularly got overexcited which forced Lang to rein her in.

Meanwhile Lang is a science communicator who has presented a number of comedy shows based on science. He acted as a sort of slightly reserved counterpoint to Rana but participated in a lot of the wackiness.

The pair worked well together on stage, bouncing off one another effortlessly. Interestingly all the heavy lifting of explaining the science wasn’t left to Rana, she and Lang alternated setting up jokes with facts while the other drove the punchline home. They introduced a sprinkle of mild comedic tension to add some spice but overall it was a breezy atmosphere.

If you are willing to navigate the alleyways of Melbourne, it’s worth taking a trip to the Croft Institute to see a brilliant show that’s informative and hilarious.

Meatbags is on at The Croft Institute until April 4.

5 Good Reasons to See Tom McLean Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn

1. It’s got high-brow humour
Tom McLean Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn has a bunch of jokes in it about contemporary art, ambient music, and intellectual property law as encountered by Jimi Hendrix. You’ll leave TMDHDU feeling intelligent, refreshed and glad that your powerful mind has been catered to.

2. It’s got accessible humour
Tim McLane Smashing a Ming Dynasty Vase has a bunch of jokes in it about annoying housemates, riding on trams, and getting your bone on in a variety of rude ways. You like the F-word? TMSMDV has one of them in it! Not even bleeped!

3. Tom McLean is there the whole time
Are you sick of comedy shows where the comedian just up and leaves halfway through? Me too! That’s why I wrote Troy McGuinn Exploding a Renaissance Era Amphora to feature me, Tom McLean, on stage the WHOLE time. I won’t walk out; I won’t vanish. Not me, not ever.

4. There’s a beard in it
One of the main bits of feedback I got from my last show, Ghosts are Real, was “where’s the beard?”. “Great show, Tom, so funny! But why don’t you have a beard?” Well, guess what! I grew a beard. Thad O’Mallory Obliterating an Age of Enlightenment Jardiniere will not leave you guessing where the beard is. It’s on me.

5. It’s super funny
I’ll level with you: I’m really proud of this show. It’s really funny, the jokes are great, I’ve had a lot of fun putting it together and I really think you’ll have a lot of fun sitting in front of me watching me perform it. You’ll leave with a big dumb grin on your face and a glad feeling in your heart. It’ll be good.

See Tom McLean dropping a Han Dynasty Vase at The Downstairs Lounge @ The Grand Mecure Hotel until April 5
For booking details visit the Comedy Festival Website :


The Impossible Showcase – The Three Toms

By Elyce Phillips 
In the process of creating a show for the Melbourne Fringe, comedians no doubt reject a lot of their ideas before they land on the perfect thing to develop – ideas that are too weird or ambitious to take to the stage. The Impossible Showcase is a place where comedians can bring those ideas to life. Each night sees a different line-up performing new material that may never be seen again. A lot of risks are taken, and it results in some of the funniest acts in the festival.

The Three Toms (Tom Lang and Tom McClean) were wonderful hosts, setting the tone with a lo-fi Twilight Zone-esque introduction. On the night I attended, the line-up was strange and spectacular. Claire Sullivan took the audience into space, with the assistance of a grocery bag full of props. Her performance was gloriously chaotic, ending a little prematurely after she dropped the mic cord in a pool of water she had previously dribbled on the stage.

The Bryn Adams Duo (Angus Hodge, Demi Lardner and Kel Balnaves) attacked the stage with the kind of aggressive absurdity you would find in an Eric Andre sketch. Communicating in pained moans, grunts, hip thrusts and the occasional word, the group presented an abridged history of man. It was a performance that was surprising, gruesome, disturbing and hilarious. I was doubled over and in tears by the end of their set.

They were followed by James McCann, writer of ‘Wolf Creek: the Musical’, who read a series of letters written by a ghost who had possessed him, entitled ‘Open Letters to Scum’. McCann did a great job of capturing the voice of an offensive elderly man, ranting at reptiles, women with short haircuts and various ethnic groups.

Mr Alexander was one of the riskier acts of the night. Comedic cold reading is a strong concept, but as the performer noted several times, it does involve talking about the dead loved ones of the audience – a fairly precarious place to find laughs. Alexander did this to varying degrees of success, but his lack of confidence in the character and the reluctance of the audience to participate led to some awkwardness.

The evening ended with Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall taking the audience through some guided meditation. In almost total darkness, Tremblay-Birchall calmly asked us to consider our toes and ponder the contents of our stomach. It was silly, slightly unsettling, and a perfect way to end the showcase.

The comedy in The Impossible Showcase is divisive. While I thought the Bryn Adams Duo was the funniest thing I’ve seen all year, there were others in the audience who weren’t into it. This isn’t a crowd-pleasing show. But that’s the brilliant thing about it. The Impossible Showcase gives new and exciting ideas a chance. Some acts might not work, but some might be genius. If you’re feeling brave and want to see something unique, you really should give it a chance.

The Impossible Showcase is on in The Portland Room at The Portland Hotel until October 5.


5 reasons to see The Impossible Showcase, by the Three Toms

1: IMPOSSIBLE TALENT: Award winners, out of towners, local favourites, we lay in wait at their favourite bars, and emotionally blackmailed them into joining up. For you.

2: IMPOSSIBLE ACTS: They’re doing the things they’ve always wanted to try: shadow puppets, musical science-fiction, alternative endings; comedy gold you’ll see NOWHERE ELSE.

3: IMPOSSIBLE UNIQUENESS: If you miss it, it’s gone. Every night is one-of-a-kind, and most of these acts will never be repeated. You’ve already missed Adam Knox’s Conversation with a Hairdresser, and James McCann’s Open Letters to Scumm. Don’t miss Sarah Jones’ Saddest Stories, or Mitch Alexanders Heavy Metal Clowning.

4: IMPOSSIBLE DEALS: Come once, and your ticket will get you half price entry on every other night. Because we want you to see it ALL.

5. IMPOSSIBLE HOSTS: Tom Lang (Love Factually) and Tom McLean (Ghosts Are Real), present the whole ridiculous shebang, with their particular breed of irreverent shenaniganery.

For more info and tickets:

Tom Lang : Love, Factually

By Colin Flaherty

Is love purely a chemical process? What animal has the largest testicles? If you want to find out, Tom Lang has put his day job as a Science Educator to perfect use in Love Factually, a comedic lecture exploring the science of love and sex, the birds and the bees and many other animals.

Though not a show of continuous rolling on the floor guffawing, it provided a good balance between education and jokes. Some of the examples presented were strange enough to provide their own laughs but when combined Lang’s own observational quips, he kept us smiling and regularly giggling. His lines were peppered with many Freudian slips; just how many were deliberate was debatable, but it added some welcome innuendo to the slightly clinical proceedings.

As Lang presented his spiel, PowerPoint slides were displayed on a screen above the stage. Images of the animals, often engaged in amusing and fascinating courtship rituals, gave visual emphasis to the weird and wonderful facts that were presented to us. The odd celebrity popped up where their appearance or behaviour mimicked that of the animal at hand to provide additional chuckles. His own “hand drawn” diagrams were cute and amusingly crude. Their use in illustrating the process of evolution and natural selection of various species was effective, often showing a rather graphic aftermath involving an obviously favourite reptile.

A raffle used to illustrate the utopian sex life of a species of primate was clear in its intent but the conclusion was a bit hazy. On the up side, an audience member will receive a treat with not much effort.

The show was broken up with an interval of sorts. A conservation video was screened about a certain microscopic creature of human nether regions that has been facing extinction over recent years. His expectation of it receiving huge laughs fell a little short, but it was certainly worth a gentle chuckle.

This was a fun hour in the company of a confident performer that is sure make you more knowledgeable at its conclusion. You certainly won’t look at the custom of giving flowers as a romantic gesture the same way again.

Love, Factually is on at The Duke of Wellington Hotel until April 7

5 Good Reasons to see Tom Lang in Love, Factually

1. You’ll learn more about nature than you maybe were prepared for. You may find it hard making eye contact with bees in future.

2. It’ll give you so many great conversation starters. Imagine you’re at a dinner party. There’s a lull in conversation. You pipe up with “Hey, did you know owls don’t have penises?” SMASH CUT TO AWESOME PARTY

3. Not standard standup comedy. Pictures, movies, animal bones, it’s an audiovisual extravaganza for MOST of the senses! (Try and guess which ones!).

4. The title sounds a bit like Love Actually so you can bring a date and by the time they realise it’s not a sappy ensemble romance-comedy, TOO LATE, they’re having the BEST DATE EVER.

5. It’s at the Duke, along with so many other good shows. So you can basically just sit in one place for four hours and see a week’s worth of comedy.

Tom Lang in Love, Factually is on at The Duke of Wellington Hotel