Alanta Colley – Trick or Treatment

By Peter Hodgson

Look, life is hard and we all just want to feel better. It’s only natural, and nature is comforting. So it makes sense to turn to nature itself to feel better, right? Right?!? That’s the question at the heart of Trick Or Treatment, a science-centred comedy show that tracks Alanta Colley’s investigation of various alternative treatments for the chronic fatigue that can rob her of energy, time, creativity and joy.

Public health practitioner, comedian, storyteller and big brain Colley wants us to look at the parallels between big pharma and big chakra. The ways we’re guided towards specific treatments that may or may not be in our best interests but which are certainly interesting to someone else’s bottom line. So we’re taken through four treatments from the perspective of data collection and evaluation (we’re informed there’s another audience watching an empty stage elsewhere as a control group).

 These treatments – homeopathy, acupuncture, some e-meter kinda thing that measures your skin conductivity to apparently determine how much money you should spend on expensive treatments, and psychedelics – are laid out in terms of ‘What are they said to treat? How are they said to treat it? What do the experts say? And what are Alanta’s findings?’

You may expect a certain cynicism going into this show, but there’s a lot of heart to this story. There may be some alternative-medicine shysters trying to bilk scared people out of their money, but the critical eye is directed at those shysters, not the ordinary folks just looking for something, anything, to help them feel better. We look at the mechanics and dichotomies of homeopathy, the history and applications of conductivity meters, the consumer demand for acupuncture, and the claimed benefits of psychedelics in resetting the worldview. We also look at the placebo effect and how it can be employed to achieve real benefit. And we’re given a first hand rundown of an ayahuasca ceremony from soup to nuts (or rather, from tea to psychedelic mindf**k). But not once do we feel Colley is punching down at those who seek these treatments. Some of the practitioners sure take some hits though.

The show is tied together with a Powerpoint presentation and audio-visual cues executed with perfect timing and wit, from a hilarious chart about the research and evaluation phases of the scientific method to the uncomfortable juxtaposition of elevator music and …well I won’t say any more but if you’re frightened of needles you’ll want to bring along a stress ball.

 Trick Or Treatment is a hugely entertaining, educating show, and Colley is such a warm, confessional storyteller that you feel drawn into her world within minutes of the show starting, and thinking about it long after it’s over. You may never want to drink arsenic again!

Trick or Treatment is on at The butterfly Club until March 31

Alanta Colley : On the Origin of Faeces

By Colin Flaherty

Comedian and science communicator Alanta Colley is back at the festival with On the Origin of the Faeces, a show based on a beloved topic of playground humour: Poop! She explored the physiology of defecation and Gut Microbiome as well as the cultural, religious and historical aspects.

It was not just a show about excrement, she also covered shame, anxiety and being out of your comfort zone. A number of hilariously embarrassing scenarios from her life (all involving poop) were presented for our squirming pleasure.

Like most comedic lectures, there were a few stretches where facts overwhelmed the jokes but on the whole the balance was fine as she regularly followed up the data with zingers and groaners. Colley used every opportunity to use a poo pun, both as a punchline and in the segment titles displayed on screen. Humorous political analogies served double duty by clarifying points and satirising the political machine

The stage was a sparse affair with Colley standing stage right at the microphone and a monitor at the left. She used slides to illustrate the anatomy involved and provide visual aides to punchlines. The performance wasn’t particularly animated as she related her tales, instead relying on expressive voice and facial expressions to colour the stories. This didn’t hurt the impact of the material but it did make it feel more like a lecture than a comedy performance. It was entirely understandable as concentrating on the dense script of facts and figures was slightly more important than bouncing around the stage.

Not a show for the prudish, this was a fascinating and amusing performance that took a base topic of comedy and gave it a somewhat respectable air. Fear not connoisseurs of potty humour, you will still get your fill as you learn a thing or two.

On the Origin of Faeces is on at The Butterfly Club until April 4

5 Good Reasons To See Alanta Colley On the Origin of Faeces

1. You are someone or know someone who poops.

2. You’ve ever pondered that bacteria might be cleverer than we give it credit for.

3. Your public school education taught you about the full cohort of great Australian bushrangers rather than any actual useful health stuff, and knowing how Captain Thunderbolt escaped Cockatoo Island isn’t helping you figure out if your poop is exceptional, normal, or you need to see a surgeon immediately.

4. You get upset when your stand up isn’t accompanied with a neatly labelled PowerPoint presentation.

5. You’re into evidence based comedy.

Alanta Colley  performs On the Origin of Faeces at The Butterfly Club 7pm Mar 29 – Apr 4

Tickets available here:

Alanta Colley & Ben McKenzie You Chose Poorly

By Lisa Clark 

You Chose Poorly is Alanta’s third science lecture-based comedy show at MICF, first it was bugs then it was bees and now it’s dinosaurs, sorry, Bias. This year she has teamed up with fellow science nerd, comedian Ben McKenzie, who would prefer to talk about dinosaurs, but he chose to perform in this show and it is about the choices we make and the bias inherent in our systems.

This show had a great opening with a reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark but it should have begun by preparing you for the interactive 2 min on-line Quiz. The audience could be doing it as they are waiting for the show to start or at least primed with the web address on the screen so everyone can have their phones on and the webside up ready in time for the quiz portion of the show which then helps shape large parts of the rest of the show. By the time we were getting close to being ready the 2 mins for the quiz was over. Our friends did not have phones with them. Also there was no free wifi at the venue which would’ve helped. I’ve done interactive things on phones before, it can be fun but it can also be very stressful. Esp if you have a slow old phone.

This brings us to the other stressful thing about this tech heavy show, I was sitting in the 3rd row and could barely see the screen because of the nature of the space – and a couple of tall people in front of me. The slides contained a lot of very funny things but we could not see them all and sometimes they were rushed. You might have to stand up occasionally to get a good look at the screen. It’s a pity to go on about this because the show otherwise was delightful, and Alana & Ben were heaps of fun to spend an hour with.

What do all geeks have in common? They have to tell you what they are passionate about, usually in great detail, but they don’t all have the communication and comedy skills of Alanta Colley & Ben McKenzie. Although they are not really straight standup types they have both been writing comedy and creating comedy shows for some time. I really enjoyed the dynamic between them, Ben was the naughty geek boy wanting to talk about dinosaurs, D&D and superheroes while Alanta kept the show on the rails, bringing it back to finding funny in the science and stats with an occasional political gag on the side. Although this is a show about psychology, science and statistics it is far from dry. Alanta and Ben make sure the laughs keep coming and have a charmingly funny finale.

This is having a short run so get on down to Campari House in Hardware Lane and get your geek on. You will have chosen wisely.

Alanta Colley & Ben McKenzie perform You Chose Poorly at Campari House til Apr 7

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2018 – Previously reviewed shows

The 32nd Melbourne International Comedy Festival has been officially

Lano & Woodley

Launched for 2018. Hosted by comedy legends Lano & Woodley, their reunion this year, after 12 years apart, in their new show Fly is one of the big thrills causing quite a buzz in a gigantic, exciting programme. There are more than 620 shows in this years festival. Some of the shows are encore performances and others that we Squirrels managed to catch and review at other festivals.

Feel free to click on the links below and read what we thought of these earlier iterations, keeping in mind that festival shows are ever evolving beasts that change and develop over time, so the new version may be quite different to one we saw.

See a favourite off the telly, See someone you’ve never heard of. Most of all have a wonderful time and keep an eye on Squirrel Comedy as the new reviews roll in and we keep you up to date on what’s happening via our Social Media.

Previously Reviewed Shows:

The Bear Pack
Phoebe O’Brien’s review from Edinburgh Fringe 2017 :
Booking details:

Ben Volchok Presents…
Lisa Clark’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017:
Booking details:

Chris Lassig Dr Chris’s Theory of Everything
Conor Merrigan-Turner’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017:
Booking details:

Elizabeth Davie – Super Woman Money Program
Lisa Clark’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017:
Booking details:

Geraldine Hickey – It’s My Show
Lisa Clark’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017:
Booking details:

Hit By A Blimp – I’m Here
Colin Flaherty’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017:
Booking details:

Elyce Phillips’review from Melbourne Fringe 2013:
Booking details:

Laura Davis – Ghost Machine
Elyce Phillips’review from MICF 2013:
Booking details:

Lauren Bok – Between a Bok and a Hard Place (Originally performed as A Bok In Progress)
Colin Flaherty’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017:
Booking details:

Luke McGregor – Almost Fixed it
Lisa Clark’s review from MICF 2017:
Booking details:

Matt Harvey – War of the words
Conor Merrigan-Turner’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017:
Booking details:

Phil Wang – Kinabalu
Colin Flaherty’s review from Edinburgh Fringe 2017:
Booking details:

Political Asylum Comedy – Late Night Riot!
Angela East’s review from MICF 2017:
Booking details:

Rob Hunter – Late O’Clock
Andrew Holmes’review from MICF 2012:
Booking details:

Sean Bedlam – Death to America
Colin Flaherty’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017:
Booking details:

Soothplayers -Completely Improvised Shakespeare
Lisa Clark’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2015:
Booking details:

Snort With Friends
Elyce Phillips’review from MICF 2017:
Booking details:

Wanda and Mel
Lisa Clark’s review from Melbourne Fringe 2017:
Booking details:


By Angela East Polysy pic

Political Asylum is a comedy night for comedians covering the weightier issues. Hosted by Mathew Kenneally, comedian and lawyer, who along with some other like-minded comedians founded the night in 2009. Matt is a genial host and covers a wide variety of topics in his intro set and in-between guests, from the popular topic of the US president, to marriage equality and how it might affect the over-priced wedding cheeses market.

Toby Halligan is another core member of the Political Asylum team. He compares how things were back when they started nine years ago to now, and how it seems that not much has changed in that time, but reminds us with his funny takes of past presidents and how things have always been terrible.

Sameena Zahra from the UK has hilarious takes on voodoo dolls, the luxury of having bucket lists, and admiration of people’s resilience while being stuck in sniper fire during a visit to family in Kashmir, bringing in some levity.

Australian political comedy stalwart Rod Quantock has given up on everything, it’s all so terrible, and the only reason he’s here tonight, he says, is to keep his run of performing for 31 years at the Melbourne international comedy festival. But luckily he sets the timer and runs us through a very hectic and entertaining history of everything in ten minutes (or so…). As always he is a Political Asylum favourite.

Rod is a hard act to follow, but Jess Moir has amusing jokes likening Trump’s process to choosing cabinet women to witch trials, and fantasy scenarios involving everyone’s favourite president Justin Trudeau.
Canadian comic Mae Martin confidently takes to the stage, and proves popular with the assumptions made about her sexuality when dating, hippy parents, and unusual Christmas wishes.

Alanta Colley delivers a very funny and intelligent set covering Pauline Hanson’s change of mind on vaccinations, and puns on Pauline’s views on Islam, all dealt with a sure wit. Another regular guest Nazeem Hussain gets his laughs from a story about visiting the US just before the elections were held and the interaction he had with a Trump supporter he met at a rally.

Andy Zaltzman headlines and brings the evening to hilarious conclusion with commentary on all manner of topics from his news feed, golfing Trump, global wars, economics, to stranger items like our onion eating ex PM, and the suggestive nature of cucumbers.

There was barely a down moment and it was a surprise to see it had reached 1am when it wrapped up. With the state of the world as it is some the best we can do is take time out to laugh about it. While this was a special one off event at MICF, there’s still a chance to see more at the regular Political Asylum fortnightly show.

Political Asylum Late Night Riot was at the Melbourne Town hall April 8th 

For information about future regular gigs go to their website: