By Ellyse O’Halloran
Set List is a rollercoaster ride of randomness, hilarity and fun where comedians are given a never before seen set list and are forced to improvise a set in front of your eyes. After seeing the show last year and loving it, I was so eager to go back again and it definitely did not disappoint. Troy Conrad is the mastermind behind Set List with the help of Paul Provenza who MCs the show and does a fantastic job of warming the crowd up and creating a supportive atmosphere and great vibe.
On Saturday the lineup included Celia Pacquola, Gordon Southern, Dave Bloustein, Sam Simmons, Sara Pascoe and Sean Cullen and the topics ranged from ‘Loans for Dogs’ to ‘Non-Sexual Hand Job’. We see the topics at the same time as the comedians and it’s so entertaining watching them squirm and sometimes even be surprised by their own wit and intelligence.
The room is packed with supportive punters, who are asked by Provenza to be the ‘wind beneath the comics’ wings’. No one is there to see the comics fail, they are there to witness in real-time how comics develop content.
One of the greatest things about the show is that you don’t know what to expect and neither do the people on stage. Every performance will be completely different from the last with new comedians and new topics each night. It’s a show I’d encourage you to see multiple times, as different comedians tackle the beast in different ways.
There’s something special about knowing that the entertainment is unique to the night and is for this audience and this audience only. You can try to explain how hilarious and sidesplitting certain gags were, but more often that not you’ll find all the moments during Set List were had-to-be-there moments. It has to be seen to be believed so be prepared to convert the non-believers by taking them with you to enjoy another night of improvised hilarity.
Set List is on at the Victoria Hotel until April 19
By Lisa Clark
In a short time (only a couple of years) Set List is becoming an exciting must see for comedy fans and a must do for Stand up artists. Created by Americans Troy Conrad and host Paul Provenza (famous for the Aristocrats film and TV show The Green Room with Paul Provenza), it’s a sort of Theatresports for stand up performers and has become a fixture at both the Edinburgh Fringe and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Last year it was on very late at night, this year it’s been brought forward a little, so it doesn’t clash with Festival Club and it’s easier to get to for those who’d prefer an early night.
A set list is more commonly known as a list of songs performed by a band, for a comedian it’s a list of words or phrases referring to practiced comedy routines that they plan to do for their set, something never usually seen by an audience (unless you glimpse the backs of their hands). At Set List the list is generated for them by the Set List Team and a random phrase pops up on a big screen where the comedians see it for the first time and has to make up a routine around it on the spot.
Like Theatresports or the circus watching it can be as thrilling and terrifying for the audience as it is for the performer. Audiences are encouraged to take part by adding ideas on small slips of paper to the suggestion box which the comedian can reach for during their routine if stuck for an idea. Paul also encourages the audience to join in by not being a Dick. In other words, we’re there to support the comedians and enjoy the fun, rather than heckle and jeer and make it more difficult for them. It encourages a great vibe and a good time can be had by all.
It’s pretty unfair almost pointless to review the performers themselves as there are going to be vast differences depending on the comedian’s experience at improvisation, experience at Set List and the topics they are given. For example a comedian had to cope with a word they clearly didn’t know the meaning of. Generally though, all the performers coped really well and the laughs were pretty much non-stop even if they were occasionally for the wrong reason. Some started strongly on an adrenaline high then gradually lost momentum, possibly from thinking too hard and others started slowly and warmed into it. The latter included Set List virgin Matt Okine who enjoyed explaining why Ski-ing = Racism and veritable veteran Wil Anderson who was gifted the topic Gay Time of the month and could barely be restrained from cracking out line after line about homosexuality and ice-creams.
To give you a taste of the ride we enjoyed that night, we were treated to Felicity Ward with her Heroin vs Crack Insights, Simon Munnery who effortlessly explained the ‘3 Types of Serial Killers I support’, a nervous Celia Pacquola tackled ‘Genocide Sensitivity’ in a surprising and clever way, and Ronny Chieng, as cool and smooth as ever, tried to get ‘8 people to join Scientology.’
This is a fantastic experience for comedy nerds as well as a broadly entertaining show for casual punters to take a group of friends to. There’s bound to be a laugh in this for anyone out to have a good time, only remember don’t be dicks!
Set List is on at The Victoria Hotel