Damien Power – Not So Funny Now Is It?

By Nick Bugeja

Without a doubt, Damien Power is one of Australia’s pre-eminent comic minds working today. That estimation includes expats who have established themselves in the bigger markets of the UK and the US, à la Jim Jefferies and Steve Hughes. Power’s latest show, Not So Funny Now Is it?, is surely one of his best yet, and only bolsters the claim that he is veritably unmissable at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) this year.

He’s been plying his trade in Australian pubs, comedy clubs and entertainment venues for years, and consistently churning out material and shows outstripping many of his contemporaries. You only need to look back to the last few MICF galas to see the gulf in quality in Power’s comedy and other prominent acts, who often reek of sameness in terms of material, delivery and sensibility. Yet he’s yet to get his dues.

Not So Funny Now Is It? should be the show which catapults Power to comedy stardom. He returns to his familiar themes—of the generational divide, shifting values and ethics in Australian society, the place and utility of religion, mental health, geopolitics and international relations—with a renewed sharpness and vigour, using a mixture of well-executed stand-and-deliver bits and act outs. Power takes on both big (corporate players like Nike) and small (meth addicts on public transport) targets, and his jokes always have a social commentary component, giving them a resonance beyond the laughter which abounded through the Comedy Republic.

Considering the advent of so-called ‘TikTok comedians’ and the generally unchallenging and ‘play it safe’ core of Australian comedy acts, it’s nothing less than a duty for all good comedy lovers to attend Power’s Not So Funny Now Is It? If we were all to follow this edict, Power may just finally reach the popularity and acclaim which he is overdue.

Not So Funny Now Is It? is showing at Comedy Republic until 21 April

https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2024/shows/not-so-funny-now-is-it

Damien Power – Violent Chaos Anyone?

By Nick Bugeja

Most comedians wouldn’t start their show referencing philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, would they? Well, Damien Power did. Has the decline in belief in God, as Nietzsche predicted, rendered humankind hedonistic, selfish and frivolous? Power doesn’t give us his unequivocal opinion on the matter, although we sense he’s not all that optimistic about our future. For him, we seem far more interested in eating chia pudding and avocado toast, deriding the people of Frankston, and correcting others language choices than solving the important issues of our times.

Power is a regional Queensland native, who’s been on the comedy scene for 13 years. “It’s a long time, I’ve gotta shake things up every now and then,” Power tells us, after having made a rather risqué joke. Before this show, I’d only ever seen Power satirising the far-right in the “True Australian Patriots” videos, alongside fellow comics Anne Edmonds and Greg Larsen. Admittedly, it’s quite easy to mock and deride far-right proponents in this country. Often, they do the job themselves, without the need for comedians. But Power, Edmonds and Larsen capture so perfectly the idiocy and ridiculousness of these personalities that the videos are required viewing for any comedy nut. In short, they’re inspired, and more potent than any politician’s speech denouncing such ideologies.

Violent Chaos Anyone? won’t disappoint, whether you’re a Damien Power follower or not. Power is an incredibly versatile comedian with a wide range of life experience behind him to inform the show: he moves between the low-brow and the high-brow, the meaningless and the meaningful, and the personal and the global. His brand of comedy is hard to succinctly define, but Power – like the late ‘60s Jack Nicholson – is probably best described as a “blue-collar intellectual”. Much of his show is dedicated to lambasting the bourgeoisie, for their faux politeness and their comfortable do-nothing lifestyles. Power’s also comfortable ripping into the lower-classes. His impersonations of the stereotypical “bogan” are startlingly accurate, making us think he’s seen more than a few in his lifetime. Maybe he’s even been one. Almost everything in the show is critical of something, and this means his jokes carry a social or political meaning that encourages us to think, to question the status quo of things.

For people resistant to changing their views or perspectives, Power is not the comedian for you. He’s a boundary-pusher, who’s not afraid to challenge or demand something of audiences. This is, in my opinion, the most rewarding kind of comedy; the most stimulating and humorous. Power is one of the best in Australia at this particular style, up there with heavyweights like Steve Hughes and Jim Jefferies. The difference between good and great comedians is quite small. But in a paradoxical sense, it’s difficult to elevate oneself into the latter category. It takes years of adjustment, refinement and assuredness for a comedian to transform herself/himself from a perfectly funny comedian to a genuinely great one. I think Damien Power has done it. Let’s hope in 30 years he’s still complaining about the longevity of his career on stage (“God I’m sick of getting up here to entertain a bunch of half-wits, I’ve been doing this for 43 years”). We wouldn’t be tired of him even then.

Violent Chaos Anyone? is on at ACMI – Cube until April 22.
https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/damien-power-violent-chaos-anyone

A Year’s Round Up and 5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016

By Lisa Clark

It’s hard to think of any great positive things that happened to the world in 2016. Apart from the odd sporting achievement, it was a nonstop pileup of deplorable crud. Australian comedy however didn’t let us down, delivering performances that will stand out, no doubt, for years to come. So to cheer myself up about the dreadful year that was I thought I’d just do a roundup of good things that happened in Australian Comedy this year.

It always brings me joy to see good comedy coming out of TV, I can remember when I would be rolling in the aisles to so many comedians on stage and felt so frustrated that their voices were not heard on TV except occasionally on the odd panel show. It was one of the reasons I set up this site. I wanted the world to know how wonderful Australian standup comedians are. This year it was so satisfying to see so many live standup performances on TV shows such as Comedy Next Gen and Comedy Up Late as well as the usual Festival Galas and Just For Laughs specials. We saw comedians working in different formats like The Katering Show, Sammy J’s Playground Politics, Who’s Line is it Anyway Australia and Hard Quiz. It’s exciting to watch Comedy Showroom give fresh comedy ideas a go and to see the sweet sitcom Rosehaven bloom so beautifully. Sitcoms have always been so bloody hard to do successfully in Australia and this year we’ve also had Here Come the Habibs doing well on 9 of all places and Upper Middle Bogan as strong, funny and heart-warming as ever in its third season.  This is all along side regular shows such as Mad As Hell, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery and The Weekly.  There was happily too much comedy on TV for me to cover properly but I’ll leave that to the TV websites. Just to say 2016 was a great year to see Australian standup comedians doing exciting and wonderful things on TV and of course beaming around the world online.

Meanwhile comedians on stage have been creating astonishing, hilarious work. I didn’t get to see everything, as usual, it’s just impossible, but I thought I’d share some of my own personal highlights of the year.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival was celebrating 30 years as a Thing and put on a fun party for comedy fans with shows such as Cal Wilson’s Sunday arvos at The Victorian Arts Centre speaking with different generations of comedians in The Decades That Were and comedy tours with Rod Quantock.

Also at the Festival this year was The Wedding of Zoe Coombes Marr and Rhys Nicholson. There have been a few great comedy weddings over the years, but this riotous spectacle which was making a clear statement in support of same-sex marriage could not be bettered. The bridesmaids were Denise Scott, Judith Lucy and Celia Pacquola, MC Hannah Gadsby made a fabulous funny and moving speech. The Priest was Geraldine Hickey, Celebrant Ben Noble. Entertainment was provided by Tina Del Twist, Peter & Bambi Heaven, Hot Brown Honey, The Daredevil Chicken Club, The Butterfly Glee Club, The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic and Melbourne Uni Choirs, Wil Anderson, Adrienne Truscott and The True Australian Patriots.

Other general comedy highlights were laughter filled Sunday afternoons at the live podcast recordings of Josh Earl’s Who Do You Think I Am?  There was the return of The Bedroom Philosopher at Local Laughs singing about haberdashery and a reboot of The Doug Anthony Allstars. Tripod celebrated 20 years on stage with a gift of their songs in book form and performing them with guests on stage, ending the year with one of their best Christmas shows ever. The new exciting discoveries in 2016 included funny musical acts Jude Perl and Sarah Wall & Freya Long of The Astrudes, then the astute, warm, political comedy of Sami Shah, Alanta Colley and character comedian Haley Tantau as her alter ego Cindy Salmon.

Finally, as is traditional, I’m including an End of Year List; 5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016. As you can imagine it’s hard to pick out only five great festival shows for the whole year, its been a really great year for live comedy.

 

5 Very Good Festival Shows of 2016
Zoe Coombs Marr
1.  Zoe Coombes-Marr Trigger Warning. (MICF) The show captured the zeitgeist of the comedy world. I was laughing so hard I was worried I’d lose control of my bodily functions. I literally fell off my seat at one point. So many thoughts I’ve been thinking that she wrapped up and detonated. She destroyed me and remade me as a stronger woman. It won the Barry Award for best show at the 2016 MICF and deservedly so.

(Thanks to modern technology and smart TV people it’s been filmed and you can probably see it on ABCiView as part of Comedy Next Gen, not quite the same as live, but do it. WATCH IT. Then watch all the others)

sammy-j-award-winner

 

2. Sammy J – Hero Complex. (Melbourne Fringe) Sammy has been wowing audiences for years, but this one had the audience whooping and cheering with pure joy. It’s about the love of unpopular nerdy pursuits, in this case a passion for The Phantom comics and a friendship borne from that. The show is full of secrets and reveals, so it hard to say more except that it is gobsmacking, weepingly hilarious and will have you grinning for hours, perhaps days afterwards. This won Best Comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and will get a run at festivals in 2017 so DON’T miss it.

 

Zanzoop pic

3. Zanzoop – Feeble Minds. (MICF) Who knew a late night show in a rundown night club about an alien chat show would become the talk of MICF? All three performers added their amazing talents, my highlights being Aaron Chen as Owen Wilson with Tom Walker as Jackie Chan and the heart-warming family reunion of snarky host Zanzoop (Sam Campbell) and his alien dad (Cam Campbell) at the end.

 

4. Micheal Williams: An Evening with Michael Williams (who is trapped under a boulder) – with Jack Druce. (MICF) Michael has moved from delighting us with his clip board of sophisticated cartoon humour to giving us an all singing, all dancing audio visual extravaganza and puppet show.Michael Williams 2016 A delightfully silly show had the audience gasping when the boulder suddenly came to life and was fun for the whole family. Michael has received a 2017 Moosehead Award, so am looking forward to his Moosehead show in 2017!

 

5. True Australian Patriots (MICF). Noticing in the MICF programme that three of Australia’s most promising comedians had teamed up to lampoon right wing protest groups had comedy fans very excited and we were not disappointed. Anne Edmonds,Damien Power and Greg Larsen are all at the top of their game and gave us a riotous late night of political satire and bizarre love triangle that hit the perfect tone and bashed us right in the comedy solar plexus. True Australian Patriots

 

Happy Hogmanay from the Squirrels and hoping 2017 brings you more laughs than sorrow. X

 

Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award Nominees

On Monday morning at the Spiegeltent the Nominees for the 2016 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards were Announced with the aid of Guest Barry Humphries. You may have heard of him, The Barry Award is named after him.

Congratulations to all the phenomenal Nominees!

The Golden Gibbo 

Asher Treleaven & Gypsy Wood – Peter & Bambi Heaven – The Magic Inside

Luis Brown – Lessons With Luis

Tommy Dassallo – Little Golden Dassallo

Zoe Coombs Marr – Dave Trigger Warning

Best Newcomer Barry Announcing the Barry's

Demi Lardner – Life Mechanic

Guy Montgomery (NZ) – Guy Montcomedy

Tom Walker – Beep Boop

Rose Matafeo (NZ) – Finally Dead

The Barry Award

Zoe Coombs Marr – Dave Trigger Warning

Damien Power – Sell Mum into Slavery

Luisa Omielan (UK) – Am I Right Ladies?!

Tom Ballard – The World Keeps Happening

Anne Edmonds That’s Eddotainment

David O’Doherty (IRE) – We Are All In The Gutter, But Some Of Us Are Looking At David O’Doherty

Rhys Nicholson – Bone Fide

There are more Awards that will be announced next weekend.

Also RAW Comedy Award for 2016 was won by Danielle Walker from Victoria

 

Damien Power : Sell Mum Into Slavery

By Colin Flaherty
Damien Power

At the top of Sell Mum Into Slavery, Damien Power explains that the concept for this show came to him in a dream. The leaflet left on every seat has, in addition to some promotional material for his other projects, philosophical quotes from Nietzche, Zizek and Sagan. This just screams stoner student presenting some heavy concepts that all must be made aware. The reality turns out to be not ham fisted at all, instead we see a deep, thoughtful, articulate and slick hour of stand up exploring humanity, its evolution and the future.

Ideas such as natural selection, the future of genetic engineering and political ideologies get his considered treatment. He doesn’t clobber you over the head with his viewpoints, instead giving us some clever and hilarious observations about the world for us to mull and laugh over. His persona as a working class philosopher is key to the success of his delivery as it softens things when punching down to the Bogan element and doesn’t get bogged down in university student styled rhetoric. This material is clearly aimed at the middle class; on the surface it’s comforting to that audience in we care about that the big picture but he isn’t afraid to call us out on our hypocrisies.

Woven into the fabric of this show is some autobiographical material that both explains the genesis of the show as well as providing personal context to his ideas. Particularly clever is the way his inner thoughts are revealed through amusing analogies and call backs.

I have reports that the other show he is involved with, True Australian Patriots Live, is a brilliant companion piece to this show. A number of the ideas explored here find their way into that show but the tone cannot be further away from this considered thought piece.

Power is an extremely confident and polished performer. His cadence is deliberate with not a word out of place. His character work is brilliant as he often employs role reversal scenarios to highlight a point with hilarious results. This a masterclass in stand up that new performers should study.

Sell Mum Into Slavery is on at the Melbourne Town Hall until April 17

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/sell-mum-into-slavery-damien-power

Damien Power – I Can’t Believe I Cared

By Daniel Paproth

Damien Power

One of the first things I do every time Melbourne Fringe rolls around is check for shows from Melbourne International Comedy Festival that I missed out on seeing. That shouldn’t leave many considering I did the Funny Tonne this year, but somehow I missed Damien Power’s Barry Award-nominated show.

His brother, admittedly, is probably more well-known (Will is a championship-winning IndyCar driver) but Damien’s show is outstanding. The scene is set with some great golden-age hip-hop like Dr Octagon before Power emerges with salt, presumably to bless us before the show though we never really find out.

The show that follows is an hour of knock-out comedy in which Power, among other things, brags about his ability to fix printers, expounds on the mind-opening abilities of psylocibin mushrooms, humanity’s innate need for connection – how warm is the lady at your local ethnic fruit shop?! – as well as porn’s disconnect with reality and the heavy-handedness of Maccas’ marketing strategies.

Quite thought-provoking is a bit exploring religion and insanity – we’ve all walked briskly past a homeless man ranting and raving in the street, but what if that was flipped? What if all the great religions of the world had not existed but instead were simply sprouted by kooky people on the street? Sometimes comedians’ tendencies to explore big, philosophical issues like this fall flat, but Power keeps the preaching to a minimum and the laughs at a high.

Power is filming his show on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week for a DVD so be sure to get along and experience it before it finishes. Recommended

I Can’t Believe I Cared is on at the Imperial Hotel until October 2nd.
For booking information visit https://www.melbournefringe.com.au/program/event/view/979208b2-f3d0-424a-a1c9-c5a4732b83b2