Asher Treleaven – Smaller Poorer Weaker Cheaper

By Elyce Phillips

2013 wasn’t a great year for Asher Treleaven. Publicist troubles, a horror gig, and a particularly heinous review made for some low times. Good thing he’s an ideas man and is ready to get back on top. In ‘Smaller Poorer Weaker Cheaper’, Treleaven plots his comeback via some dodgy business proposals and some entirely healthy processing of criticism. The result is an incredibly funny show that had me in tears.

‘Smaller Poorer Weaker Cheaper’ is soaked in the intense enthusiasm of someone desperately trying to turn things around. Before the show even begins, you can hear Treleaven belting out Sinatra behind the curtain. Once things get rolling, exuberant cries of “Woo!” and vigorous fist pumping punctuate quieter moments of the show. The mood Treleaven creates is wonderfully unhinged. He addresses the crowd like a sleazy used car salesman as he tests out some of his proposals to make a quick buck or two. The props fail, the party tricks go awry – it’s all so gloriously shambolic.

As always, Treleaven’s wit absolutely shines in this show. There is a perfect balance of cleverness and silliness. His physical comedy is outstanding, whether he’s crushing his thirst like a man, performing a bizarre nautical dance number, or simply lunging about the stage for emphasis. Treleaven re-visits some older material – his bogan version of ‘My Favourite Things’ makes an appearance, however it works in the context of the story he’s telling and is just as hilarious this time around. The new material never skips a beat –except when it’s meant to. An extensive rant against a poor review for the show is a rage-filled highlight.

‘Smaller Poorer Weaker Cheaper’ is an absolute must-see. Asher Treleaven is a unique comedic talent, and this show has one of the best finales in the Festival. It’s a spectacle that you really shouldn’t miss.

Asher Treleaven – Smaller Poorer Weaker Cheaper is playing at the Portico Room at Town Hall and The Swamp at the Gin Palace until April 20.

The Experiment

By Elyce Phillips


If you’re anything like me, you’ve been wondering for years why there is not a comedy show that is also a dog show. It’s such a hassle trying to attend both all the time. Why not bring them together? Well, lucky for us, our prayers have been answered by ‘The Experiment’. Hosted by Asher Treleaven, Geraldine Hickey and the constantly-grinning Oliver Clark, the late-night show is the perfect opportunity for comedians to get weird.

The trio of hosts complement each other perfectly. Hickey was wonderfully deadpan, giving us some animal facts and reading out a very pertinent letter to our new Minister for Women’s Affairs, Tony Abbott. Clark manned the sound effects and ran interference, dressed like an electric-blue nightmare – the lovechild of Tony Barber and Tony Clifton. Treleaven bridges the divide, holding the reins and fostering an enthusiastically supportive atmosphere that ensures the special guests are met with rapturous applause, regardless of the material they try out.

On the evening I attended there were four guests, all of which were fantastic. Anne Edmonds performed some great new material about Nazi fancy dress, Dave Callan busted some serious moves to Britney Spears’ ‘Hit Me One More Time’, Claire Hooper treated us to a suite of Fables from her upcoming Fringe show and Charles Barrington delighted with his tale ‘The Ugly Natalie Portman’. Alas, on this evening there was no dog show. A lady in the audience did bring a small toy dog, which Treleaven received with the disdain it rightfully deserved.

‘The Experiment’ is brilliantly unhinged and a great chance to see some comedy from the stranger end of the spectrum. With new guests every night, it’s certainly a show that I’m going to check out a few more times. A really great way to top-off your night at the Fringe.

A final note- the call-out for small dogs is entirely serious, so bring your small dog if you have one. As of right now, the prize money has jackpotted to $45. Hot dang!

The Experiment in on in The Ballroom at the Lithuanian Club until October 5.


By Lisa Clark

Spring has sprung, Melbourne is sparkling, our eyes are itchy and that means it’s time to get ready for the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Melbourne Fringe is an open-access, multi-arts Festival, that actively encourages diversity and is thus a great space for performers to experiment with new and unconventional ideas. The Festival encompasses theatre, music, circus, magic, furniture design, art and craft and more, but here at Squirrel Comedy we are nuts about comedy and thus we will be covering the comedy side of things which is pretty big. Some comedians use Fringe to reprise a successful Melbourne International Comedy Festival show (often new and improved versions) and others to give a new show a run leading up to next year’s MICF. There are wacky one off shows that can only be seen at Fringe and you never know when you’ll make a delightful surprising new discovery, as we did with Slutmonster and Friends last year. So it’s always worth going out of your comfort zone to try something new. Hey that is why Fringe exists!

There is so much comedy to choose from and it is our job to give you a hand as you make your way through the Fringe programme. Below are links to all the shows we’ve previously reviewed, many of which will have been tweaked and improved since their last outing and that’s followed by some recommendations for shows we’ve seen and/or are excited by. As usual we’ll be publishing ‘5 Good Reasons to see…’ leading up to the the festival and reviewing shows throughout.

Shows at Melbourne Fringe that Have Been Previously Reviewed by Squirrel Comedy.

Barry Morgan: Organ Is Not a Dirty Word
Squirrel Review:
Barry Morgan is playing his magnificent organ at the Lithuanian Club at 7:30pm

Lessons With Luis Famoucity!
Squirrel Review :
Famoucity is playing at The Butterfly Club at 7pm

Luke McGregor – My Soulmate is Out of My League  [Winner of The Best Newcomer at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival]
Squirrel Review :
It’s playing at The Loft, Lithuanian Club at 9.15pm

Khalad Khalafalla – Devious
Squirrel Review :
Devious is Playing Upstairs at Errol’s at 10.30pm

Michael Burke in Cubehead
Squirrel Review :
Cubehead is playing at The Tuxedo Cat – The Jackle at 7.00pm

Nob Happy Sock – Simon Keck [Winner of The Golden Gibbo at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival]
Squirrel Review:
It’s on at Son of Loft, Lithuanian Club at 6.30pm

Political Asylum
Squirrel Review:
Political Asylum is on at the Festival Club (North Melbourne Town Hall) on 1/10 at 9:30pm

Satan’s Finest Mitch Alexander & Jackson Voorhaar
Squirrel Review:
Satan’s Finest is on at the Tuxedo Cat at 9:30pm

Other recommended shows at the 2013 Melbourne Fringe.

Lisa-Skye – Songs my Parents told me

was a delightfully warm biographical story show that somehow missed out on a review during MICF. Lisa-Skye lovingly explores her parent’s generation and how it compares to and influences her own creative and interesting life. Lisa-Skye is just back from her first trip as a performer in Edinburgh, she should be on top form. It will be on at The Tuxedo Cat – The Jackle

Lisa-Skye will also be hosting a late night chat show at The Tuxedo Cat called Art Sex and Snacks, she will be interviewing performers about their craft.

Sammy J’s 50 Year Show 

which is a deliriously silly idea of Sammy’s to perform one big long show in parts, once every five years, for 50 years. I attended the 1st part five years ago and it was a whole bunch of crazy fun in the packed North Melbourne Town Hall. Many projects were begun by guest comedians that will be repeated or added to and the time capsule will be opened. One Night Only! Don’t miss it or you’ll have to wait another five years.

Comedy Pick and Mix 

is a one off Festival Club night curated by Melbourne comedy goddess Janet A McLeod and hosted by Andy McClelland and Oliver Clark in their personas of El Grande and Mr Nightlights. A creative mix of performers creating all sorts of mayhem and hopefully at some point El Grande will be tipping pot pouri down Mr Nightlights underpants. You won’t want to miss that.

The Experiment curated by Asher Treleaven. 

A late night show at The Lithuanian Club during Fringe showcasing a great line up
of alternative comedy acts encouraged to take risks. There will be an air of competition to the show and the comedians will be competing with small dogs. I will leave it to Asher to explain:

“Each show I’m inviting members of the public to bring their small dogs to compete with the acts so we can finally discover whether Melbourne’s best Alternative comedians are more entertaining than a small dog. There will be a $15 prize for best small dog and at the end of the show the audience will judge who has been more entertaining. There will be excellent comedy, sketches and music but its mainly about ze dog”

Hopefully there will be a pooper scooper on hand in case of nerves.

Tony Martin – The Yeti 

Probably the most highly anticipated show at this year’s (maybe any years!) Melbourne Fringe Festival. I don’t know if Tony has ever performed a solo festival show before and although he has recently tread the boards as a guest at The Shelf. it’s been a long time since he’s performed in his own festival show. This will be a narrative drawn from his autobiographical novel  Lollyscramble. A book that had me laughing out loud on public transport. Tony is what’s known as a ‘comedian’s comedian’ with a huge following so tickets are bound to sell out. He’s at The Butterfly Club.

Asher Treleaven – Bad Dandy

By Colin Flaherty

The title Bad Dandy indicates a theme of style over substance (which is exactly what this performance is all about) but there is also the clever contradiction of giving it plenty of depth. Asher Treleven gives the appearance of being preoccupied with telling us all about how great he is and all the things he is capable of, but not actually getting into his “material”. Meanwhile he is critiquing the theatrical conventions of stand up and all that surrounds it with some wonderful routines and fascinating lines.

All the performance elements that he covers are illustrated by example. These are brilliant jokes and routines but are constructed to look like teasers for a show that, as we progress beyond the half hour mark, may not eventuate.
The only routine that clearly resembles “prepared material” comes in the closing moments of the show; a bit that describes the Global Financial Crisis which utilises the audience. It is a wonderful extension of one of the sillier spectacles from his Wild Duck days in 2005.

There is lots of misdirection (ie. dressing his stage with beefcake/cheesecake photographs and telling us that they will be the only thing that we will remember from this show), ridiculously obvious hack techniques (ie. asking us if we understand clearly commonplace references) and numerous, seemingly offhand asides but they all feed into the overall concept. We are drawn into the artifice of “the performance” as he describes audience member tropes and points individuals out for all to see.

Asher carries this all off with his wonderful way with words and lashings of charm. His much lauded physicality provides plenty of colour and movement to give his routines an extra dimension.

This is a performance that caters to one audience on their own level without diminishing the experience for another group. Comedians and comedy nerds will have a ball with all the meta stuff going on. Everyday punters will enjoy the shenanigans of this wonderfully silly man and all his beautiful physicality. Everyone will get their comedic dollars’ worth of entertainment.

Bad Dandy is on at The Victoria Hotel

Asher Treleaven Troubadour

By Elyce Phillips

Is my life interesting enough to talk about for an hour? This is the question at the center of Asher Treleaven’s Troubadour, the fifth in his continuing series of door-named shows. Luckily for the audience, the answer is a resounding yes. Treleaven delights with stories of growing up with a chaotic assortment of father figures and spending his formative years working as a carnie. His comedy is a seamless blend of the cerebral and the physical, as he waxed lyrical about the nature of masculinity while flouncing about the stage, limbs flailing.

The show opens with a simple explanation of the show’s premise, and it is made clear that Treleaven’s question is not rhetorical. The decision is yours to make. At the end of the show, the audience must pass judgment on the interestingness of Treleaven’s life. But there’s no need to worry! Treleaven helps you answer this question by working through Edward De Bono’s six thinking hats – a problem solving system many of us are all too familiar with from tedious hat-colouring sessions at work or school. The six hats are a constant guiding presence at the back of the stage, including a truly spectacular replica of Princess Beatrice’s pink monstrosity standing in as the red hat – a brilliant investment on Treleaven’s part.

The audience loved every moment of the show, and Treleaven fed off this. One gentleman in the front row was particularly tickled by the image of a person marrying a horse, which led to some great ad-libbing about Bob Katter in the Harry Potter universe. Treleaven’s performing arts background really shines through. He expertly held the attention of every person in the tiny sauna that is the Town Hall Cloak Room, not to mention that his circus training has provided him with a spectacular university graduation piece.

Despite Treleaven’s (entirely accurate) statements about comedians being cynical at heart, Troubadour is an incredibly uplifting show. It tells a story of self-acceptance without being preachy and feels remarkably positive without being saccharine. And it is hilarious. If you’ve yet to see one of  Treleaven’s shows, get yourself to this one.

Asher Treleaven – Troubadour is on at the Melbourne Town Hall in the Cloak Room.

MICF 2012 Shows on sale now

Tickets are now on sale for shows in this years Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

The Comedy Festival Gala is being hosted by Sammy J & Randy and has already sold out, but there are still tickets available for some of the festivals biggest events including the Opening Night Comedy Allstars Supershow, RAW Comedy National Grand Final, The 23rd Annual Great Debate Upfront and more!

Highlights in 2012 include American comedy legend Wanda Sykes, the return of UK based comedians Dave Gorman, Shappy Khorsandi, Glenn Wool Tim Key and Aussie born Sarah Kendall. Simon Munnery’s two shows, including his conceptual restaurant ‘La Concepta’ which we tasted a sample of during his show last year and, as always, a new one from Daniel Kitson. Four of Australia’s best comedians are getting together to perform a live silent film; Andy Mclelland, Asher Trelevan, Celia Pacquola and Sammy J in Tie her to the Tracks. Interesting pairings include Bob Franklin and Steven Gates (of Tripod) in Stubborn Monkey Disorder and the husband and wife team of Mike McLeish & Fiona Harris in …..Plus One. There is also Rod Quantock’s Mystery Comedy Tour which is garanteed fun if you don’t mind walking and don’t forget to try something new. You might discover the next big name! Of course there are many, many more shows happening, so get to it.

To get in early and secure your seats, check out the full list of shows on sale here. New shows are being added as they go on sale.