Neal Portenza – Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza. Tracey.

By Elyce Phillips Neal Portenza pic

You know you’re in for a good time when even the title of a show makes you laugh. Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza. Tracey. sees the return of Josh Ladgrove’s Doctor Professor Neal Portenza – an agent of clowning chaos decked out in a hospital gown, lab coat and beret.

In Neal Portenza…Tracey, Ladgrove has refined the character of Portenza further, distilling him into a series of segments whose names are displayed on balloons at the back of the stage. From the wonderfully stupid ‘ball cup’ and ‘ghostboy’ to the weird and dark ‘pokégoth’, Ladgrove’s unique style of comedy had the audience in fits of laughter. There’s no narrative, just a bunch of funny, silly stuff. Fake blood, rubber geese, a megaphone – there’s no point to any of it, aside from making you laugh as much as possible. It’s simple physical foolishness at its best.

“Best tech in the world” Nathan has also returned, helpfully prodding Portenza when he’s forgotten to do a portion of the show. His well-placed sound effects add another layer of hilarity to Neal Portenza…Tracey, while his updates of how much time is left add an undercurrent of panic.

Neal Portenza…Tracey is the kind of show where the experience could vary wildly from night to night, as it’s largely dependent on the audience. With a group of people who are willing to play, it’s riotous and joyful. With a less enthusiastic audience, the performance would fall flat. Luckily, on review night, everyone was well and truly up for some madness and the energy in the room was absolutely uplifting. And there’s no reason not to get on board. In all of the audience participation, the joke is firmly on Portenza. More often than not, the audience’s main task is to rein in Portenza when he gets out of hand – or to egg him on, because things are a lot more fun when they get out of hand.

Once again, Ladgrove has created one of the most enjoyable shows of the festival. Neal Portenza…Tracey is a perfectly shambolic hour of escapism from a performer that just gets better every year.

Neal Portenza – Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza. Tracey. is on at Melbourne Town Hall until April 17

5 Good Reasons to see: DR PROFESSOR NEAL PORTENZA – Catchy Show Title

1. It’s interactive, but not in the frightening ‘OMFG DON’T LET HIM LOOK AT ME’ kind of way. More in the ‘I USE THE AUDIENCE TO CREATE UNIQUE MOMENTS FOR THAT PARTICULAR NIGHT’ and ‘OH COOL WE HAVE ALL THE POWER’ way.

2. It’s extremely fun. Less fun than the first time you tried a Nintendo Wii, but more fun than the following activities:
Being stung by a bee/bees
Staring into the sun for 6 minutes because your older cousin Jake convinced you it’s good for your health when you were four
Waiting for your indecisive friend to decide between a Pad Thai or a Chilli Thai Basil Beef Stir-Fry at your local Thai restaurant
Food poisoning
Rollerblading on a gravelly surface

3. If you’ve never seen a Neal Portenza show, it’s like having a brain explosion fired from a comedy laser beam. If you have seen a Neal Portenza show, there are a host of new characters, and retrospective apologies for the aforementioned brain explosion.

4. Once, during a performance in Edinburgh, I made a girl laugh so hard that she had to be hospitalised for rupturing something in her stomach. This sounds made up, but isn’t, and though I feel awful, I also feel powerful for using the power of comedy to hospitalise someone. She’s fine now.

5. It’s a unique, interactive, funny, bizarre, original and fun experience. If everything goes according to plan, and occasionally when it doesn’t (because it mostly doesn’t) then you should leave with sore cheeks from laughing. Comedy is subjective though, and you may not like my show. I’m honest like that. In that sense, it’s like gambling. You can put $23 on red at the local casino, or you can take a $23 punt on a maniacal idiot. Either way, you’re probably not getting that $23 back. Thank-you for your time and have a prosperous life.

DR PROFESSOR Neal Portenza performs his Catchy Show Title at the Melbourne Town Hall
For Bookings and information go to the website:

Gary Portenza: Apologies in Advance

By Elyce Phillips 

I have some distressing news, friends. Dr Professor Neal Portenza has passed away, and now his evil twin brother Gary Portenza (Joshua Ladgrove) must conduct his funeral. It is a fitting service, as anxiety-inducing and refreshingly baffling as Portenza shows of the past. But where Neal’s chaos was an oddly joyful affair, Gary’s mania is darker and more unsettling.

From the very outset, this show radiates instability. At the door we are warned by tech Nathan that this is the first time the show has been put together and that it might be a bit rough. Once inside, after some opening stumbles, Gary leads us through the program – from the traditional blessing, to a celebration of Neal’s favourite football team, to a reading from a selection of Neal’s questionable spec scripts of popular sitcoms. Sound and lighting cues fail. Readings are misread. Props fall apart. Nothing quite goes to plan, but perhaps that is the plan. All through the show one question plagues you – is Gary truly not ready for the big leagues of hosting an hour-long funeral, or is it all a work of demented genius?

It’s impossible to know exactly how much of the haphazardry was part of the act. In some moments, such as a very funny prayer involving some flamboyant incense, Portenza made no attempt to disguise his appetite for self-sabotage. At others, however, you were left wondering whether things truly were being rushed along due to time constraints, or falling apart in unexpected ways. Either way, ‘Apologies in Advance’ was a weird and entertaining hour. For every moment you’re not laughing, you’re experiencing anticipation, anxiety, confusion, something. Anything but boredom. Gary Portenza doesn’t let you get complacent.

This isn’t a show for the feint-hearted. This isn’t comfortable comedy. As the synopsis in the guide says, you have been warned.

Gary Portenza: Apologies in Advance is on at The Jackal – Tuxedo Cat until October 5

Squirrels Top 5 Picks of the Festival

Well the 2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival is winding down this weekend.

We no longer hand out awards, because it is just too difficult for us to see everything, or even see the same shows as each other. Instead most of the Squirrels have picked their Top 5 shows. If they are still running we recommend that you might like to see some of them this weekend. It was really hard to narrow it down to only five.

Of course the festival isn’t over yet and we may see something that changes our list but we wanted to put this up before the festival was over so you could gain from our recommendations.

You’ll notice a few of the names crop up more than once. Some sold out shows are putting on extra performances in the final weekend like the play Choir Girl that had finished its run of three performances, but has added one on Sunday afternoon.

Check out the Melbourne International Comedy Festival website for details and keep festivalling ’til you drop!!

Lisa Clark 

Hannah Gadsby – Happiness is a Bedside Table

Dave Bloustien – The Grand Gignol

The Writers

Luke McGregor – My Soulmate is Out of My League

Sammy J – Potentially


Caitlin Crowley

Luke McGregor – My Soulmate is Out of My League

Hannah Gadsby – Happiness is a Bedside Table

Michael Workman – Ave Loretta

Best Comics Worst Gigs

Dave O’Neil – 33 Things I Should Have Said No To



Cathy Culliver 

Dayne Rathbone – It’s Me Dayne

Luke McGregor – My Soulmate is Out of My League

Simon Keck – Nob Happy Sock

Dr Professor Neal Portenza

Ryan Coffey – Late & Loud


Colin Flaherty 

Fabian Lapham & The Actual Musicans:God Fights the Dinosaurs & 9 Other Stories That Will Awesome You in the Face.

Simon Keck – Nob Happy Sock

Set List

Choir Girl – Sarah Collins

David Quirk – Shaking Hands with danger


Elyce Phillips 

Lessons with Luis – Famoucity!

Lords of Luxury

Sam Simmons – Shitty Trivia

Lawrence Leung’s Part-time Detective Agency

Mike Birbiglia – My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend


Luke Simmons 

Khaled Khalafalla – Devious

Brendon Walsh

Bev Killick – Goes “There”…Again

Daniel Connell – Mr Personality 1988

Trevor Noah – The Racist


2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival finishes on Sunday 21st of April