Kit Richards The Nicest Guy in Comedy

Reviewed by Lisa Clark

Despite the blurb for the show, which makes it sound like Kit Richards is coming to burn down all her bridges, don’t expect Kit to spill the dirt, she makes it very clear from the beginning that she will not be naming names but she is going to share how a comedian broke her heart and made her quit comedy.

That’s the first curiosity of the show, how can she say that she had to quit comedy when here she is in her 3rd Melbourne International Comedy Festival Show in a row? We only find out much much later that the heartbreak happened 7 years ago, and judging by the tears, although she felt ready to return to the stage generally, she might not be quite ready to create an amusing show out of it.

Kit’s previous shows have been enjoyably quirky and certainly covered a lot of darkness and light about Australian Colonial History and Scandals in Australian sport. They also displayed her talent at song writing, singing and storytelling. It’s the storytelling element that is disappointingly deficient in this year’s show.

At some point early on, she stops and says how she shouldn’t be getting so dark so early in the show (no please do get dark Kit!). The inference is that she will reveal all about the darkness later in the hour. The problem is, she never really delivers. She complains about being badly treated by her ex but also flips it by saying she wants to make it very clear that he didn’t treat her that badly…. which leaves the audience somewhat confused.

It feels like Kit is tip toeing around what this show should be about, so it becomes really hard for the audience to invest, or believe that she is ready to share her experience in a meaningful way. In other news she has a bit of a blog online, that goes into much more depth about everything. You might want to read it to make sense of the show. Or before you go to the show.

Most of the songs are enjoyable, often with witty lyrics about topics such as “Everybody Bombs” (on stage) and the shrewd irony of “Comedy’s not meant for Girls”. I love her poppy style that sets her apart from traditional cabaret or musical comedy, but it needs more theatricality and an over arching story that makes clear sense. The Nicest Guy in Comedy feels more like a concert performance of a breakup album than a laugh out loud storytelling comedy show. The video clips add to the impression.

Kit’s finale is a heartfelt cry from her gut that the culture must change to make the comedy world a safer, kinder place. It’s genuinely moving and no one can disagree with her. If only the show was searingly funny or coherent enough to carry it all off.  The vibe is melancholy rather than ferocious and The Nicest Guy in Comedy is recommended to punters who’ve recently had their hearts brutally broken, are looking to share some venting and don’t mind that it isn’t a joke fest.

Kit Richards performs The Nicest Guy in Comedy at Trades Hall til Apr 10

5 Good Reasons to See Kit Richards: Scandal! A Reflection on Essendon’s Doping Saga: The Musical?

1. It’s the first accessible musical for AFL nerds. If you’re an Essendon supporter, you’ll get the closure you desperately need. If you’re not an Essendon supporter, you can come and learn some empathy and then go and apologise to all the Don’s supporters you harassed for 4 years.

2. It’s performed by an award-winning comedian and 4th generation Bombers supporter, so the show really is for the fans, by a fan. No corporate watchdogs here!

3. It’s full of all-original music performed by a live band which is comprised of loved local rock and rollers.

4. You get to learn about one of Australia’s most controversial sporting moments in history, and who doesn’t love to learn?!?

5. It’s mentored by Scott Edgar from Tripod who is the nicest man alive and a real legend. It’s so far got his tick of approval, and that’s good enough for me!

Kit Richards performs Scandal! A Reflection on Essendon’s Doping Saga: The Musical? at Trades Hall, Common Room until April 4

Recommended and Previously Reviewed shows at Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Here Comes Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2019! There are more shows than EVER before and we Squirrels are here to help.

We have a list of all the shows we’ve previously reviewed and also a few that we’re excited about or keen to recommend.

The Aspie Hour had a short run at 2018 The Melbourne Writers Festival. It was a fabulous musical comedy in two parts by two brilliantly talented performers who apparently are both on a spectrum. It’s top notch comedy cabaret for those who love Broadway with laughs.

The Fringe Wives Club has welcomed new members and has grown from 3 to 5 performers. Last year we all rushed out to see Glittery Clittery and adored the crowdpleasing feminist cabaret, but we didn’t manage a review, sorry but the simple review is: We all LOVED it. This year we’ll be rushing to see their new show Glittergrass and make sure we review it.

Tom Ballard is being very busy after having his ABC show Tonightly cancelled. He’s jumped into the festival with gusto. As well as his own show, Enough, which is having a full season run, Tom will be hosting one of the political Tuesday nights at the Festival Club and most intriguingly he’s written a satirical political play called KWANDA. It’s about a Monday night political panel show but it’s not about QandA at all. No. Of course not.

Demi Lardner and Tom Walker both have solo shows again this year, but they have also teamed up to perform We Mustn’t and it’s bound to be weird, wonderful and hilarious.

Don’t forget to check out the alternate guide to the Festival:
The Safety House Guide.
Says creator and stand up comedian Lisa-Skye:
“The Safety House Guide is a free magazine featuring nearly 100 of the best acts of the fest. Safe, but never tame, it’s not about censorship, it’s about empowering audiences to make the right decisions about the shows for them. It gives more info about stuff like content, access and the level of audience participation. It also has fun stuff like letters from comedians to their potential audience, info on workshops and quizzes. Grab your free copy around town, or at the launch!”

Sam Simmons is a late entry to MICF with his new show 26 Things You’ve Been Doing Wrong with Sam Simmons suddenly be added to the Festival program.

On the down side some performers have already cancelled….But NOT……Tom Cashman XYZ, we read that he had but he has NOT cancelled. Go see him!

Shows that have been Cancelled:

Ronny Chieng has had to bow out due to being cast in a sitcom in pilot season in the US. We wish him all the success, but worry he may be too successful to perform here again… He has rescheduled his Australian shows for July.

Benny Darsow Ad Lib

Charlie Pickering Us & Them

The Elvis Dead by Rob Kemp,

Let’s Get Wild

One Man Breaking Bad by Miles Allen

Thomas McMahon and Nick Quon Total Business Solution

Blanc (That weird fashion circussy thing at Chadstone)

And NOW, Finally…..

Previously Reviewed shows – and links to our reviews:

Annie Louey – Before I Forget

Melbourne Fringe 2018:

Barnie Juancan – Tap Head

Melbourne Fringe 2018:

Bunk Puppets – Stark and Dormy

Melbourne Fringe 2018:

Clare Cavanagh – Literally

Melbourne Fringe:

Chloe Black – Transistor Sister

Melbourne Fringe 2018:

Felicity Ward – Busting a Nut

Edinburgh Fringe 2018:

Faulty Towers The Dining Experience

Edinburgh Fringe 2008:

The Breast of The Fest

MICF 2018:

The Dizzy Biz – The 2007 Wonthaggi Blue Light Disco

Melbourne Fringe 2018:

Wool! A History of Australia’s Wool Industry: The Musical by Kit Richards

Melbourne Fringe 2018:

Wool! A History of Australia’s Wool Industry: The Musical

By Lisa Clark

Squirrel writer Peter Newling got a peek at some of the songs from this that were performed by Kit Richards in the Lemon Showcase and he was pretty excited about them. He had a right to be, Wool! A History of Australia’s Wool Industry: The Musical is fricken Awesome.

I found Australian history as boring as bat shit back at high school, maybe because of the way it was taught, but Kit’s enthusiasm, grand songs and gentle humour really bring the world of 18th and 19th century Australia to life. This show focuses on the lives of John and Elizabeth MacArthur. Yes; he of the old $5 note and she of The Chair on Sydney Harbour. The couple who introduced the Merino sheep to Australia and began the wool industry. Kit uses hats and scarves and great comedy acting to denote characters pretty effortlessly.

Now history is messy and complicated, luckily Kit is not too fussed with the nitty gritty of it all, she’s more interested in telling a cracking tale well. This show reminded me of Drunk History, where history buffs might get annoyed at the lack of detailed research but the storytellers are passionate about their subject and don’t let the details get in the way of a good story. Meanwhile the audience has a ball laughing their arses off and learns something along the way.

The songs are lush and romantic and often quite funny with “Merino Sheep” being a standout. The songs fit together well as a score, but could possibly do with some different rhythms and tempos. She also admits that they don’t all flatter her singing voice, as she’s a bit weak in the high register, some voice tutoring should be able to sort that out. This is also a show that could possibly be performed by a group of performers, but for now it’s quite the tour de Force for writer/composer Kit Richards.

Kit is quick to point out that there are four people putting on the production: her on-stage pianist, who occasionally plays a part and sings, Kyria Webster, the very able tech person and director Lucy Rees, who’s done a great job at moving Kit around the stage so everyone gets to see her. Kit is enjoyable to watch, with great facial expressions and an endearing personality. Kit’s between song banter is also very winning, she claims to improvise it differently every night. I enjoy that she gives us some background to her songs, with some jokes and asides. Her passion for history is palpable, but she manages to convey it in a pretty relaxed manner.

This is a very dorky, sweet, comedy musical show about early Australian history that would be great to bring your teens to. Everyone will have fun and may discover a new interest in the history of Australia’s wool industry.

Wool! A History of Australia’s Wool Industry: The Musical is on at The Lithuanian Club (Son Of Loft) until September 22

Lemon Comedy Queer Showcase

By Peter Newling 

A sell-out crowd packed into the warm and welcoming Hares & Hyena’s bookshop in Fitzroy for Lemon Comedy’s only foray into the Midsumma Festival for 2018. A small stage has been erected in the corner of the store, surrounded by chandelier, regency wallpaper and thousands of books. Complete with friendly bar service, who could ask for a better venue?

Lemon Comedy bills itself on its website as a “new global stand-up showcase that aims to promote diverse, sharp voices in comedy”. Younger performers get the chance to strut their stuff in front of a large and supportive crowd, while more seasoned performers can try out new material in a safe space. And, on this balmy Tuesday evening in Melbourne, they didn’t disappoint. The organisers brought together an eclectic mix of performers and performance styles for this one-night-only show. In fact, the audience was treated to seven classy acts across two hours of joy.

The quality of any gala often rests largely with the ability of the host – and in this role, Alistair Baldwin excelled. He kept the audience’s energy up between comics with warm repartee and generous introductions. His own material is terrific, managing to cover off topics ranging from Australia Post to cuttlefish in his mild-mannered, seemingly good natured shtick.

Space does not allow a full run down of all performers – so let me instead tell you about some acts to keep an eye out for in the future.

Melbourne comic Kit Richards was a stand out, giving the audience a sneak preview into the new musical that she is writing – which explores elements of early white Australian history and the difficulties of English folk adapting to Australian conditions. The songs were cleverly constructed, hilarious, and lovingly delivered. If that musical ever gets made, I’ll be first in line to buy a ticket.

Comedic trio Hit By A Blimp (aka Caitlyn Staples, Tiana Hogben and Jayden Masciulli) gave us an energetic mixture of sketch, song and interpretive dance in their Coldplay inspired portrayal of the pros and cons of Uber Eats. Well regarded improviser Nikki Spunde made a welcome return to stand-up and proved to be an audience favourite with her languid homage to sleep and haunting things.
Headlining the evening was the evergreen Geraldine Hickey. Whilst her choice of material – a set based on common fears – wasn’t the most imaginative of the evening, she won over the crowd with her trademark dry, laconic delivery, astute observations and easy-going nature. It was great for the younger comics to be able to enjoy a masterclass from such an experienced and assured performer, and provided the audience with a worthy pinnacle to their night’s entertainment.

Other performers rounding out this excellent, varied bill included Pat McCaffrie, Gamze Kirik and Liv Hewson.

Congratulations to Lemon Comedy on bringing together a great night out, and for giving us the gift of an inspiring celebration of diverse comedy. If you missed Lemon Comedy’s Midsumma gala, never fear. Their next gig will be on Valentine’s Day, and will celebrate, appropriately enough, the joys of singledom. Sounds like fun to me.

Lemon Comedy Queer Showcase was a One Off performance on 16 January 2018 at Hares & Hyena’s bookshop in Fitzroy