Set List: Stand-up Without A Net. The TV Series.

By Jayden Edwards

“Set List- Stand up Without a Net” the international hit show that has comedians shitting themselves the world over, is coming to our TV screens.

Set List invites willing comedians to jump up on stage and tackle a never before seen list of topics and spin out a fully improvised routine in front of a live audience.

The original concept is the brainchild of US comedians and film makers Troy Conrad and Paul Provenza. After experimenting with the show in comedy rooms in and around Los Angeles, Set List has set up shop around the world in front of sell out crowds, including London, Edinburgh and at our own Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The show has attracted some of comedies biggest names and delighted audiences, giving them the clearest possible view of a comedians inner-most workings. All this hype eventually attracted the attention of UK Television network Sky Atlantic, who commissioned the 14 part series, showing here on ABC2.

The TV series was filmed in the US and the UK last year and sees the likes of Robin Williams, Ross Noble, Drew Carey, Tim Minchin, Rove McManus and more, take on the Set List challenge.

Episode one, premiering 9.00pm Thursday January 24 on ABC2, sees Robin Williams, Matt Kirshen and Eddie Pepitone step up to the mic. All very different comedians, it’s great to see how they approach the task in their own style. Robin, as you’d expect, pulls out some wacky voices and whimsical tales to get him through, while Eddie employs a lot of swearing and yelling to keep the laughs coming while he’s thinking. Yeah, some of the jokes miss, but the fun in Set List is seeing the comedians find the hits, it’s like a spectator sport, everyone loves a car crash as much as a triumph!

The TV format adds another layer to the successful live show by mixing the comedians performances with behind the scenes footage and pre and post show interviews, so you really get to see the acts sweat and panic before jumping up on stage, and their reaction straight after their set. The camera gets right in the comedians faces during their set, showing their gears turning and brows sweating. These are all great techniques that puts the viewer on the other side of the fence, it feels like it’s you and the comedian vs the audience, a whole different experience to being an audience member at the live show.

Set Lists transition to television was always at risk of losing it’s edge and underground live room feel, but the doco style filming, basic set and lack of host ensure none of that is lost, no glitz, just raw stand up inprov.

The show is produced for the UK, so there’s a few names that may not be so familiar with Aussie audiences, but plenty that will. Hopefully they’ll film some in Melbourne in the future!

Set List the TV show is a highly entertaining, nerve-wracking journey into the unknown, make sure you check it out.

Starts 9.00pm Thursday January 24 on ABC2

Noel Fielding Review

By Cathy Culliver

Before we go any further, I have to be upfront about something. I have loved Noel Fielding ever since I first stumbled across a strange show on SBS called The Mighty Boosh and witnessed two zookeepers talk about a man made out of bubblegum called Charlie.

So I’m sure you realise that for me, this man can do no wrong. But at the same time, I’m fully aware Fielding isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you like comedy to make sense, to have structure and to be about real life, you should probably stay the hell away from anything Fielding touches.

But if you like to laugh at silly things, if you find stories especially funny when they don’t make any sense and if you have a soft spot for all things surreal and absurd, Noel Fielding is the man for you.

But hopeless, loyal fan that I am, I still had some pretty big expectations for Fielding’s first Melbourne performance in nearly ten years. I just wasn’t sure he’d deliver. And the anticipation was made even worse when he cancelled the first show thanks to some nasty food poisoning, and we all had to come back 48 hours later to finally get our Fielding fix.

But I’m happy to say the wait was so completely worth it; Fielding did not disappoint. Clearly recovered from his earlier vomit marathon, Fielding was on fire; sparring with the audience, running around the stage and just being the charming and delightfully silly Noel Fielding so many of us know and love.

I laughed the most when Fielding had a whispering conversation about there being a dead gorilla at the skating rink, and my friend lost all composure while Fielding described a fight he had with his annoying neighbour Monkey Edwards, who was apparently stealing his dreams through a pipe.

Which all sounds completely ridiculous written down, of course, but that’s the brilliance of Fielding; he says the most bizarre things and then makes you laugh uncontrollably at them, when all the while you’re not even sure what’s going on.

If you’ve seen Fielding’s solo TV project Luxury Comedy, you’ll know that without his usual comedy partner Julian Barratt there to level things out a bit, Fielding can have a propensity to go off into very strange, acid trip-like tangents.

But I’m happy to say that this show very rarely roamed into just-too-weird territory. Those moments were there, but Fielding has enough self-awareness to realise when he’s taken the audience too far and it’s time to pull back into the real world.

I will say that it’s a damn shame there aren’t more comedians out there like him, brave enough to push the boundaries of what’s traditionally considered funny. But overall, what Fielding delivered was a brilliant evening of fun and silliness, and a perfect reminder of why I fell in love with him all those years ago.

Noel Fielding’s Australian tour is over


Pride Hard

By Lisa Clark

Robert Lloyd is a veteran of the festival circuit with shows such as Who, Me. and  A Study in Scarlet (A Study of…) . as well as his many shows with The Hounds crew and a chat/sketch show on Channel 31 called Live on Bowen. His comedy cred is pretty established and here, yet again proves that he knows how to entertain an audience. The second half of the show is performed by impressive newcomer Kelsey Gade. With his previous protĂ©gĂ© Tegan Higginbotham of The Hounds out of the nest in her own successful festival show, Robert has found another talented young lady to work with.

Doing a violent action film in the style of the formal historical comedy Pride and Prejudice is the sort of wonderful silly idea usually thrown at performers in an impro show. Here Robert and Kelsey have taken the idea, run with it and developed it into a full blown romp of a show that plays around with other ideas but impressively never strays too far from its primary premise.

Some of the more fun ideas include the conceit that Kelsey is a last minute fill-in performer (who’s surprisingly good), using the Pride and Prejudice bimbos Kitty and Liddy to provide plot exposition, an appearance by a character from Harry Potter, a big fight scene performed in a Regency dance style and a big fun finale that I won’t give away.

I must stress that although this is very entertaining in a general way it is highly recommended that you have seen Die Hard first. A little knowledge of Pride and Prejudice would not go astray in enhancing your enjoyment either. As a Jane Austen fan who has never seen Die Hard I became a bit confused about the plot and characters and keenly felt the fact that I was missing out on a lot of the jokes the others in the audience were laughing at. Some were explained later, but it was too late for me. The Die Hard fans definitely had a whale of a time and ignorance of Pride and Prejudice wasn’t a huge problem for them. As a history buff I was also annoyed by the modern technology used by characters early on, but this was later rectified somewhat as the show morphed from a Die Hard spoof into more of a Pride and Prejudice hybrid.

This was a deceptively simple looking production with no costumes or props. The energy was obviously poured into the intelligent script, delightful mime and other performance skills, as well as the excellent sound and lighting. It did become a bit confusing with only two performers having to create so many characters, often with different names and styles for the same character, but as I pointed out that may have had something to with my ignorance of Die Hard, which is my own fault. Robert and Kelsey have created a pretty impressive achievement none the less and it’s certainly a lot of fun.

The last performance of Pride Hard is tonight (Oct 13)

For booking details see the Fringe Festival Website

Hang The DJ

By Colin Flaherty

Andrew McClelland (a comedian who DJs) and Ian Bell (a DJ who dabbles in comedy) have joined forces to give a comedic glimpse as to what happens behind the DJ decks. The show got off to a flying start with a high energy dance medley covering many genres (a impressive effort from two portly gentlemen) and went on to explore many facets of their experiences in the industry utilising stand up, banter, song and dance. A lucky punter was even transformed into a DJ complete with witty moniker!

The boys bounced off each other in spite of this being the first time they had worked together on the comedy stage. The banter between the two was jovial and amusing. Trading witty lines, they often surprised each other with some of their comments and actions and this enjoyment on stage was infectious. They mined their differences in musical tastes for some laughs but for the most part the pair were on the same page to impart their passion to the audience. There was the odd fluffed line and missed musical cue but this added a nice sense of anarchy and spontaneity.

Andrew was a charming performer as always; full of puppy dog excitement for the material. He presented wonderful stand up spots covering his details of his background that may explain some things to long time fans concerning his eccentricities, demeanour and outlook on life. Most interesting was his staunch determination not to lapse into potty mouth territory (despite Ian letting slip) by employing euphemisms that were cleverly inserted into a call-back.

Ian spent the majority of the show behind the decks (where he was most at ease) but he was no mere button pusher responding to Andrew’s jokes. There were many opportunities for him to take centre stage to present amusing monologues (such as thanking Dr Hook for his introduction to Djing). He ably assisted Andrew in the re-enactment of a number of amusing scenarios including the wonderful “Song Requester from Hell” segment where he did a hilariously foppish impression of Andrew while Mr McClelland played the other parts. Also impressive was the demonstration of his almost serviceable singing ability during a montage of celebrity snaps (complete with a hilarious James Brown moment).

This show was not wrapped up in the traditional sense, instead we were treated to an invitation to witness the guys (and the newly christened DJ apprentice) plying their DJ trade and dance the night away. Armed with a Boombox, Andrew led us pied Piper style down the hall to the Bella Union bar where the fun times continued for several more hours. This fusion of comedy, music and dancing was a brilliant way to end an evening.

The last performance of Hang The DJ is on tonight (Oct 13)
For booking details see the Fringe Festival Website

Girls Uninterrupted are Good Value

By Cathy Culliver

I find it very surprising that this year’s Fringe is only the second time that Girls Uninterrupted have performed in a show together. Granted, the girls have personally known each other for a long time, but on stage they seem like such a perfect match it’s hard to imagine them ever doing anything else. Made up of duo Louise Joy McCrae and Nicolette Minster, Girls Uninterrupted are a genuinely talented, clever and laugh-out-loud act.

Girls Uninterrupted are Good Value, is their new show, a delightful hodge-podge of skits, audience interaction and pre-filmed gags, all performed with the refreshing confidence of two women who clearly know their stuff.

Their lampooning of Australian reality TV shows makes for the some of the funniest moments in the show, especially their take on “Farmer Wants a Wife” and what could have been a mockery of any number of renovation shows. It might seem like obvious ground to cover for a skit, but these ladies carry it off with such hilarious silliness that I found myself genuinely wanting more. But there are also the live skits, which are just as good. My personal favourites were the beauty queens from the Deep South and the girls’ take on baffling finance terms, but to be honest there wasn’t much I didn’t like.

If sketch comedy on Australian TV wasn’t as dead as Bert Newton’s wig, Girls Uninterrupted would surely be a shoe-in for a show of their own. But as it is, you’ll just to have to settle for seeing them live, which I highly recommend you do. It seems criminal these girls don’t have bigger profiles on the Australian comedy scene, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

Girls Uninterrupted are Good Value is on at The Ballroom, Lithuanian Club until Saturday 13th October.

For more information, visit the Fringe guide:

NED: Ideas you’ll never have

By Colin Flaherty

In this one man character showcase, Dylan Cole presented a parody of the conference series and website NED which aims to “spread ideas” through 15 minute presentations from individuals, usually experts in their field, on a wide range of topics. The poster for the show even mimics the TED Homepage with a collection of bizzare topics accompanying the video links.

The first speaker to take the stage was Dr John Hatzenberger, a dishevelled Academic who got quite flustered while essentially not saying very much. He had an interesting way of de-constructing the NED Speech Format during his spot; an ideal aid for the audience to become acclimatised to the shows’ structure. His ability to pad the speech with highly detailed talk of his procrastination was a delight and his inclusion of random often irrelevant quotes to make a point was inspired lunacy.

Next on the stage was Joel Ham, apparently a Buddist Monk whose talk was sponsored by a very un-Buddist company. He posed unending rhetorical questions and talked in infinite circles about contentment and choice. A clever and amusing visual demonstration left no one in the audience any wiser as to his point. This character was a little one note, a Monk talking in riddles at varying volume levels, but was enjoyable nonetheless.

The last was Prof. Jeffery De Hollander, a very plastic personality who laughed in finite doses at his own obligatory jokes. His topic was Creating the Creation of Creativity and included clever visuals of famous artworks to relate to a hypothetical person to illustrate his points. Some wonderfully bizzare facts and figures were spouted to poke fun at his credibility. Although this segment started out strongly with many witty lines peppered throughout, it ended on a rather serious note which was an odd way to conclude a show.

All the characters were fleshed out well, costumed simply but effectively, given brilliantly absurd biographies and displayed appropriate extreme mannerisms. A running joke involving a sequence of images suggested the presence of recurring tropes in these types of speeches and pushed it to the extreme.

The decision to concentrate on motivational topics rather than the scientific gave him enough ammunition to attack such self righteous, agenda pushing types. I haven’t explored the TED website enough to determine whether such characters are in the majority in this arena, but they were fascinating personas and it was fun to witness them being taken down a peg or two. This was an interesting concept for a comedy show which delivered plenty of laughs.

NED: Ideas you’ll never have is playing at Trades Hall – The Annexe until October 13.
For booking details visit the Fringe Festival website