Claire Hooper – All The Rage

By Nick Bugeja

A few months ago, Claire Hooper was asked by a friend to make a speech at her wedding. Although she had nothing written down the day before the wedding, Hooper blitzed the speech, leaving her audience in stiches, enamoured of her sharp, witty comedic gifts (that’s Hooper’s recollection of the speech, she can be trusted). Hooper’s husband – made to seem docile and parochial over the course of the show – burst her bubble of satisfaction, telling her, “you’re a professional, you don’t get to take credit for a good speech.”

Even if that’s the case, Hooper can surely accept praise for her stand-up sets. Her latest show, All The Rage, deserves it in abundant amounts. It’s absorbing, intelligent, gratifying and hilarious, cementing her place as one of the most prominent and renowned comedians in Australia. She’s at ease with the tone-setting, introductory jokes, taking down Perth and Adelaide in a couple of words (it’d be interesting to see her out of Melbourne, to see how she would denigrate the city). Even more impressively, the main part of Hooper’s set, a series of interwoven jokes and scenarios dealing with her irrepressible feelings of anger and rage, is consummately executed.

The set isn’t just about eliciting laughs, it’s about acquainting us with Hooper’s life and her most intractable personal problems. This means her comedy is relatable and sympathetic; we aren’t only laughing at her flaws and neuroses, but also our own. That’s the thrust of her comedy, which is helped inordinately by her disciplined modulation of voice and movement. All The Rage is a fine show from an experienced comedian, who keeps us laughing from when she announces herself from behind the curtains to the final words she speaks. The show might be focused on Hooper’s pervasive, inescapable feelings of pure rage, but it ought to be all the rage in this comedy festival, too.

All The Rage is showing at the Melbourne Town Hall until 22 April

Being Claire Hooper

By Colin Flaherty
Being Claire Hooper

If you’re in the Town Hall precinct on the weekend and you encounter sinister, robe clad figures being approached by flustered people who act strangely then dash off, don’t be alarmed! You are witnessing those seeking enlightenment from comedy goddess Claire Hooper.

Pop Up Playground are a group that devise and run “immersive reactive situations”, in this case a game that is part live action role playing, part car rally (minus the car obviously!) and part cryptic crossword using Claire Hooper’s absence from this years’ festival as a framing device. In teams or individuals we play devotees to the cult of Hooper, following clues to various locations and solving puzzles as we head towards a final destination.

It’s an immensely fun experience that not only is themed on the Melbourne Comedy scene but is humorous to boot. From an amusing personality survey to the many religious cult tropes. From witty Hooper penned instructions to the ridiculousness of the po-faced acolytes you will be giggling as well as confused.

Clues at each location point you in the direction of the next locale, additional clues describe an extra pilgrimage (which managed to slip by us but we didn’t feel we missed anything significant) and there is often an amusing task to perform. Even though an expansive map makes the journey quite daunting for the brisk hour (we feared that perhaps we should have been running between spots instead of casually strolling), the POP Crew ensures that all arrive at the final destination in time to witness the conclusion to this story.

There are a few issues with the game that didn’t ruin the experience but made it a little difficult. The black on purple colour scheme is difficult to read in low light (even with the supplied torches), some locations require significant stair climbing (so unfortunately those with mobility issues aren’t catered for) and the final destination is in a noisy public space with some of the subtlety of the ceremony lost.

If you’re looking for something unique to include in your festival going experience, this is a brilliant activity to participate in. You can throw yourself into the story as much or as little as you feel comfortable with and a fun time will be had by all. Just follow the instructions to the best of your ability and you will soon discover the light and word of Being Claire Hooper.

The Being Claire Hooper experience departs from the Bourke & Wills Statue at the City Square on weekends until April 17

Claire Hooper – School Camp

By Elyce PhillipsClaire Hooper - School Camp

We all remember things differently. Some of us might like to think we have near photographic memories, but we can never be certain we’re recalling things exactly as they happened. We have a tendency to twist our personal histories into something that’s more palatable. In School Camp, Claire Hooper digs deep into her memories of those trips away, sharing stories of sexual awakening and teenage awkwardness, and teasing out the fact from the fiction.

After the birth of her daughter, Hooper realized that she needed to start being more open and honest about the uncomfortable things in life. In order to do this, she began to dig back into her memories of the most defining moments of her childhood, and now presents them to an audience in all their gawky, excruciating glory. Hooper does a magnificent job of capturing the awkwardness of youth. Many of her stories have that weird, dark underbelly that we tend to forget is part of childhood – kids can do some pretty messed up stuff. Her tales are stark and honest, full of the imperfections and voids that come with remembering. They are stories that we can all relate to. During a part about Hooper’s school camp experience on a high ropes course, I was transported back to my own embarrassing camp experience of being slowly winched down, too scared to step onto the tightrope. It’s this relatability that makes School Camp so hilarious. We can all look back on our crap, awkward times as a kid and laugh.

School Camp opens with a scary story and ends with a scary story of a different kind.  The show has serious undertones and at the heart of it lies a difficult message about the importance of remembering things. The shift in tone is a little jarring, but Hooper handles the material well. The show is cleverly composed, striking a unique tone that perfectly encapsulates those early teenage years. Much like being at a school camp, Hooper will  have you giggling away in the darkness.

Claire Hooper – School Camp is on at Melbourne Town Hall until April 19

Squirrel Comedy’s Recommended and Previously Reviewed Shows at Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2015

By Lisa Clark

Well the Squirrels are getting ruffled up and ready for autumn nut collecting. And comedy reviewing. There are soooo many shows on offer at the 2015 Melbourne International comedy Festival and it can be very difficult for us to see everything we want to see, let alone review everything we want to review. For those readers who are planning their Festival schedules and are in need of help, we have some good news: Squirrel Comedy has previously reviewed thirty of this year’s shows and we have laid out links to all those reviews below.


First Up here are some brilliant shows I previously saw & loved but Squirrel Comedy hasn’t reviewed.

I recommend you see:Claire Hooper School Camp

Claire Hooper’s School Camp

Claire takes us back to school days in a raw & truthful way where nostalgia takes some surprising and dark turns that make this show very special.


Celia Pacquola – Let Me Know How It All Works Out.

Celia’s show about fortune telling and her international lifestyle was another of Celia’s crowd-pleasing corkers.
Celia Pac Let me Know

Barry Nominated last year as word got around it was selling out like hotcakes, so if you weren’t lucky enough to see this gorgeous show better book now.


Denise Scott – Mother Bare

Denise deservedly won the Barry Award last year for her droll and often riotous reflections on motherhood and other aspects of her comedic life.Denise Scott Mother Bare pic

She’s only doing four shows this year at the fan friendly time of 4.30 Sundays, so get your tickets early.



And now for shows that we have previously reviewed.

Particular highlights this year that I can also recommend include:

Are You Afraid of the Dark by Watson Watson Afraid of the Dark

Watson’s funny and occasionally genuinely scary show is not for those with a nervous disposition or heart condition but my goodness it is a monstrous load of fun. It can only fit smallish audiences into the space at the Old Melbourne Gaol so book early, I hear the first week is booking out fast. Not surprising as this show won Best Comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and considering it is site specific it is one you will have to come to Melbourne to see.


Bart Freebairn Ultra Power LordBart Freebairn pic

Bart is a comedian at the top of his game just waiting to be discovered by the mainstream. I get the joyful shivers when I see a stand up comedian reach a point where they can host a room and own it keeping everyone rolling with laughter non stop. Bart is there and I hope everyone loves Ultra Power Lord as much as I did at Fringe last year.


Bucket’s List by Sarah Collins starring Justin Kennedybuckets list

Buckets List is a whimsical, beautiful and of course very funny tale with a star turn by the amazing Justin Kennedy (who we just don’t see enough of on the circuit any more – I miss him, but if this is the sort of work he’s producing then I’ll forgive his absence). Justin is blessed with the ability to make an audience laugh without saying a word and when I see independent theatre this good I think our major theatre companies should have a good hard look at themselves.


Damian Callinan – The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy CallinanPaddy Callinan

A perfect show for this anniversary of ANZAC it’s another comedy character tour de force by Damian where truth and tall tales blur with loads of laughs and a streak of darkness. The true spirit of the ANZAC is thoroughly celebrated.


We can’t wait to discover new exciting comedy at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival  but meanwhile

Here’s the full list with links of those we reviewed earlier:

The 13–Storey Treehouse

Anthony Jeannot is Unaccept-a-bubble

Bart Freebairn: Ultra Power Lord

Clem Bastow – Escape From LA

Damian Callinan – The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy Callinan

Dr Brown – Befrdfgth

Dylan Cole – The Moon in Me

Fancy Boy Variety Show

Faulty Towers – The Dining Experience

Geraldine Hickey – Listen Out For The Castanets

I Love Green Guide Letters Live

Justin Kennedy – Bucket’s List

Late Night Letters and Numbers

Lee Naimo – Finding Lee

Lisa-Skye’s Lovely Tea Party

The Little Dum Dum Club Live

Luke McGregor – I Worry That I Worry Too Much

Mark Butler – Grammar don’t matter on a first date

Political Asylum – Late Night Riot

Sam Rankin – Wake Up, Sheeple! (2.0)

The Sexy Detectives – Mono Logs

The Sound of Nazis

The Umbilical Brothers – KiDSHoW – Not Suitable for Children

Stuart Daulman is an Absolute Credit

Stew Walker – A Hard Day’s Night of Beatles Parodies

Gary Portenza: Apologies in Advance

Set List

Watson – Who’s Afraid of the Dark

World Record Show with Andy Matthews, Adam Knox and Dave Warneke

Zoe Coombs Marr – Dave


5 Good Reasons to see Victoria Healy Presents We ♥ Comedy

5 Good Reasons to see Victoria Healy Presents We ♥ Comedy:

The Variety

Each night three 15 minute spots of impro, stand up and sketch comedy.
The Big Names

Jimmy James Eaton, Claire Hooper, Luke McGregor, Girls Interrupted, Lessons With Luis, Geraldine Hickey, Simon Keck plus loads more!
The Cheap Tix

Only $13 presale. $10 on the door
The Hostess

Oh stop it guys….shucks.
The Venue

The Imperial is the home of comedy at Melbourne Fringe. Cheap drinks for any ticket holders and participants.

Cheap Drinks? Surely you only need ONE good reason!  This should be a great way to get a taste of some really fabulous performers who are doing Melbourne Fringe this year and a lovely way to cap off a night at the Fringe.

We ♥ Comedy is on at The Imperial at 10.15 Tue-Thurs

Picture This!

By Colin Flaherty

Live cartoons drawn alongside stand-up comedy is an intriguing concept. Add a lively host in Alexandra Elizabeth Howell, four brave guest comedians, Illustrator Hadley Donaldson, a guest scribbler (in this case Jason Chatfield, who has his own cartoon based show), a willing audience and toasted cheese sandwiches, and you have Picture This!

Lining up to have their words immortalised visually at this particular show were Luke McGregor, Michael Hing, Claire Hooper and Celia Pacquola. Apart from Michael (who is a multiple visitor to the Picture This! stage) they performed sets that I have come to know almost word for word from seeing them often at local rooms. I was dying to see what dimension the drawings would add to their material.

The illustrators used one of two methods to work with the comedian; they either drew a literal representation of the jokes or they would toy with the performer and add their own humour to the images. Both were entertaining in their own way.

The literal method resulted in a detailed picture that grew as the routine went along and, while not always adding laughs to the source material, was a feat to behold. It was amazing how rapidly the illustrator worked as the jokes went through their life cycle. After the punchline was reached, it would have to be sadly erased (I hope copies are saved!) to make way for the next joke.

A loose cannon approach tested the comedian’s improv skills as they were forced off the script. Some performers suggested additions to the drawings to which the cartoonist would oblige with amusing results. For the most part it was an exercise in trying to embarrass the comedian with suggestive doodles (ie. lots of penises).

This is a show of sensory overload. Focusing on the screen runs the risk missing any nuances of the comedian’s performance but the words aren’t really the main focus of this show. If you are familiar with ta particular comic’s material you can see where this set goes visually while keeping an ear open for any instances of a curve ball being dealt with. Many times the comedian was surprised by what had been made of their words but usually they were intrigued by the visual representation of themselves.

It was a fun event and certainly something different from your bog standard stand up show with tight five sets. It left some interesting memory imprints to go along with the jokes.

Picture This! is on at The Tuxedo Cat