Lauren Pattison: It Is What It Is

By Ron Bingham

It’s been a turbulent couple of years for Lauren. The last time I saw her was in London in March 2020, as Covid was just breaking in the UK. It was also Lauren’s last show before everything shut down, and forced her to move back home to Newcastle.

Despite the setbacks Lauren has lost none of her brilliant comic timing and fast paced conversational style in the two+ years since her pre-Covid days. The audience sat enraptured throughout the hour, as Lauren regaled us with how and why she was able to cope with the disasters of the last two years that included a breakup and having to go back to working in retail. I sympathised with her story of working at the Morrisons checkout without a comprehensive knowledge of the fruit and vegetables sold in the store, to which she had an ingenious & hilarious solution.

The only thing that confused me was her story about Bottomless Brunch, which I sort of understood but have never encountered such a thing before. Now I’m trying to work out if that means I’m too posh, not posh enough, or just old (or foreign)? Maybe I’m just not that excited by endlessly refilled glasses of Prosecco at 10am.

The room Lauren is playing in was absolutely jammed full and despite it being a “pay-as-much-as-you-want” or buy a ticket show, I noticed almost everyone had bought a ticket. Lauren was in her element, thankfully (like a lot of us), she is coming out the other side of that long dark tunnel and her new show is all about her indomitable spirit, no matter what the world throws her way.

It Is What It Is is on at Monkey Barrel Comedy

Lauren Pattison – Peachy

By Ron Bingham 

I saw Lauren’s debut Edinburgh show last year and, while it was good, I have to say she has improved immensely since then. (Shall I be parochial and suggest that it may be her trip to Australia that helped?)

Lauren is a relaxed and entertaining storytelling comic, who tells tales based on her life as a Newcastle working class girl living and trying to survive in London. She sauntered onto the stage wearing a black T-shirt, silver sequin hot pants (quite distracting with all those spotlights on her – very much a disco ball effect) and socks, to recount how she has had a bloody good year this year. She describes the three brilliant things that have happened to her (five months doing comedy in Australia, a new boyfriend and a new special skill), but points out bemusedly that there is little comedy in happiness.

So we are presented with an hour of the worst aspects of each of these brilliant things, which include horrors encountered at some zoos, her family’s surprising reaction to something her boyfriend did, her family and their interesting dietary habits, scary stories about a AirB&B in Perth, dating/not dating, best friends and posh friends and a return gig in Newcastle, where she encounters an old adversary.

Lauren’s storytelling skills are so strong, I look forward to seeing Lauren filling a much larger room next year (she is selling out). A maturing comedian with a great future ahead of her.

Lauren Pattison performs Peachy at the Pleasance Courtyard til August 26

New Order

By Lisa Clark 

There are many group shows at MICF, they are a great way of getting to know a group of comedians in a short amount of time and deciding who you might like to see more of in the future. You might even become a fan.

Lauren Pattinson

What a fantastic way to start the lineup. Lauren Pattinson is so bright, perky and wildly talented, she was nominated for Best Newcomer at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival Comedy Awards last year. It’s a bit of a shame that she’s not brought her full show Lady Muck to Melbourne which was so loved by our writer Ron, as well as most other people who saw it. Here we get a taste of it, Newcastle Girl alone and full of self-doubt in the Big City of London. Her main story concerns a hangover and finding comfort from strangers. Lauren was the highlight of my evening and I look forward to her bringing a full show to Melbourne one day.

Ivo Graham

Very young looking Ivo Graham has actually been doing comedy for almost ten years. He began at 18 and won Best Newcomer not long after. This is not his first trip to Australia, either, though he was not here for comedy. Ivo happily went to school in Sydney for 3 whole years as a child before being dragged back to Old Blighty to attend Eton, the most prestigious private school in England. He was able to keep some of the notorious bullying at bay with his knowledge about Neighbours. Unsurprisingly he is an intelligent comedian and has chosen his material for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival well. After introducing himself and background, the body of his set was one lovely long story about going on family holidays and it was a treat. Ivo, has the instinct of a brilliant comedian and having almost finished the usual ten years apprenticeship is on his way to becoming a household name.

Eleanor Tiernan

Eleanor Tiernan (yes she is related to Tommy Tiernan, she’s his cousin) took up comedy latish in life. There is a sense that she knows she must prove herself to her family and friends back home and her talent should see her well there. She’s moved to London and is fairly outspoken about the backward treatment of women in Ireland and also has some very funny  share-house stories to impart. Eleanor is mature, strong, opinionated and also a pretty experienced comedian, so adding her to a ‘New Order’ line up seems a bit odd but this is less about newcomers and more about who is about to become a household name and Eleanor is certainly well suited to this really strong line-up.

Darren Harriott

Darren Harriott has some more, somewhat hairier share-house tales to tell, and unsurprisingly he tells them well with many laughs. Darren has the roughest background and is able to make light of it with confidence and charm. Not surprising that he was also nominated last year for Best Newcomer at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival Comedy Awards and is well on his way to a stellar career.

If there was a theme that brings these four acts together it’s single life in the big city of London, the other is that they are all very talented comedians. For me Laura was the standout and I’ll definitely be hoping to see her again, but they were all really good. New Order is definitely one of the strongest line up shows I’ve seen at Melbourne International comedy and is definitely recommended to pop on your Festival list.

New Order is on at The Melbourne Town Hall

Squirrel writers’ 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Round up

So that was the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh Fringe and Festival. Once again the weather was changeable, with reports that it was the wettest summer in Scotland for 80 years. We arrived in the rain, but the frequent showers were never enough to dampen our enthusiasm. There were four Squirrels in Edinburgh this year and all of us have written below about shows we’ve loved, or not loved, or not had the chance to write about previously.

Hannah GadsbyThe Big news to come out of this special anniversary festival is that Australia’s own multi award winning (The Barry, The Helpmann, Adelaide Best Comedy) comedy champion Hannah Gadsby has won the Best Comedy Show Award at Edinburgh. It was a joint win with John Robins and my impression is that their shows are a sort of yin and yang, with John’s show The Darkness of Robins being an anguished cry of help from the depths of a breakup with his more famous girlfriend Sara Pascoe (who was doing her own take on the breakup in an equally well reviewed but not nominated Fringe show Lads, Lads, Lads) and Hannah’s being a powerful, rallying rant of revelation against the apocalypse, Nanette. Previous Australian winners of Best Comedy at Edinburgh Fringe are Los Trios Ringbarkus, Lano & Woodley, Brendon Burns and Sam Simmons.

Other nominees for the 2017 Edinburgh Best Comedy Award were Ahir Shah, Elf Lyons, Jordan Brookes, Mae Martin, Mat Ewins, Sophie Wilan and Spencer Jones.

Best Newcomer Winner at Edinburgh Fringe was Natalie Palamides for Laid. The Nominees for Best Newcomer were; Chris Washington, Darren Harriott, Ed Night, Kwame Asante, Lauren Pattison, Lucy Pearman and Rob Kemp.

Rob Kemp did win Comedians’ Choice Award for Best Performer and Mat Ewins Presents Adventureman 7: The Return of Adventureman won best Comedians’ Choice Award Best Show.

Hannah will bring Nanette for its premiere season at the Sydney Opera House from  September 27 – October 8, before a string of encore performances at the Arts Centre Melbourne from Nov 18 culminating in Hamer Hall on Dec 1. I shouldn’t have to urge you to see it, if you’ve missed out on it so far.

Squirrel writers’ Edinburgh Fringe Round up

Colin Flaherty

My highlights at Fringe happen to be ones that I have reviewed, in particular Big Howard Little Howard

Big Howard, Little Howard (Howard Read) – Man and Boy

Andrew O’Neill’s Black Magick Fun Hour

Simon Munnery – Renegade Plumber

I also enjoyed Stuart Goldsmith – Like I Mean It, a hilarious hour that follows on from his previous show Compared to What where he continues to explore life with his new wife and son. He presents plenty of brilliant observations and plays around with the bird with clipped wings husband angle perfectly.

One off event WiFi Wars was a hoot, even though many of the games refused to play correctly on my underpowered tablet (I was only expecting to word process and web surf on it after all!). This late night, tech heavy show had punters competing individually as well as in teams. We laughed, we cheered and we got our geek on!

I had high hopes for Boris & Sergey’s One Man Extravaganza, an ambitious show featuring complicated puppetry, a crazy blurb and some wacky characters but I found it overlong and not enough laughs to hold my attention. Apart from the wonderful voicing of the characters, the expressionless puppets failed to connect with me.

Lisa Clark

I loved all the shows I reviewed with Jayde Adams (Is Jayded) being the exciting new discovery of the Fringe for me. The following are shows I loved but did not get a Squirrel write up.

Craig Ferguson ShowCraig Ferguson – The Craig Ferguson Show. All the Squirrels saw Craig’s recording of his live radio show and we all enjoyed it. Starting at 11.30pm to go live for drive time in the USA as well as Canada and Mexico, it went for 2 hours and consisted of two very entertaining in-depth chats with performers who were old friends of Craig. In our case an old close friend impressionist/comedian Jan Ravens and Scottish writer Iain Rankin.

Chris Coltrane – Make Love & Smash Fascism – a rather lovely, warm and approachable political comedian who taught me about the evils of Neo Liberalism which is extreme capitalism & pro privatisation of everything which basically seems to be the road to anarchy.

Dave Johns – I, Fillum Star. Dave Johns has been a jobbing comedian all his life and just as he was planning his retirement (he was going to give kids donkey rides at the seaside), he got a part in a film. On the 1st day director Ken Loach said, oh by the way the film is named after your character because you are the lead. I, Daniel Blake won a swag of awards taking Dave to Cannes and the BAFTAs and giving him a cracking tale to tell, and being a great comedian means Dave knows how to tell it for maximum laughs. This was a joy to experience with the message that it’s never too late.

Yianni Agisilaou – Pockets of Equality. As the title suggests, it’s about sexual politics and pockets. More importantly it was a very personal heartwarming show about love and family and one of the best shows I’ve ever seen Yianni do.

Disappointing shows were; Boris & Sergey’s One Man Extravaganza, a puppet show where three puppeteers per puppet failed to give the faceless repulsive puppets any personality, or make an interesting show. Then there was The Great Comedy Cooking Challenge which in no way described the show at all. The two guys had not planned their Festival show at all leaving the audience more bemused than amused and the main one telling the story of how he fell in love with cooking kept saying “I think that might’ve gotten a better laugh”. Nup.

Back to other highlights for me which were the inimitable and indefatigable Doug Anthony Allstars – Near Death Experience, Wifi Wars live online gaming which was a completely different kind of Festival show and finally, Simon Munnery doing a gorgeously crafted show about fixing things, bookended by two great songs. I was lucky to see Simon when Renegade Plumber had been bedded in and found it to be the tightest show I’ve seen of his in years, it was a beautiful blend of the personal and political, with the title perfectly describing the show.

Phoebe O’Brien

Fringe Shows that were highlights not formally reviewed

2 Become 1

The Swipe Right Theatre Company have created a fun and fabulous night that will capture your heart with its upbeat mix of 90’s music. It will also hit you right in the funny bone with A grade performances from a heavenly cast.

The cast of four stunning vocalists sing the hits; from Destiny’s Child to Des’ree to the Spice Girls and so many more! The 90’s bangers are intertwined within a story of friendship and heartbreak, as one of character’s, Jess breaks up with her boyfriend. After the news, her best gal pals do the only thing that would obviously ‘help’ Jess from a breakdown due to the breakup…speed dating.
At its core ‘2 Become 1’ is heartfelt and funny. You can even have a little boogie and sing-a-long of your own while you’re there. Now tell me, what more could you want? Could you really, really want?

David Quirk – Cowboy MouthDavid Quirk Cowboy mouth

After missing David Quirk during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, there was no better option than to catch his show ‘Cowboy Mouth’ at the Fringe. Quirk is the king when it comes to long form narrative story-telling, his tales from his childhood and the awkward meeting with his neighbour were tops.

Amongst the anecdotes, the show was knitted together with audio clips of the recollections of dreams people have had about him.
ps. Quirk performed on a bus and had an excellent jacket. Very cool.

Britney – John
A hidden treasure amongst the thousands of incredible Fringe shows was the sketch duo behind John. Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson are two 20 something year old mates from the UK, who make up ‘Britney’.

In their show ‘John’, the pair reminisce about the time they were just out of high school, exploring America and working on a documentary about president of Congress; John Hancock. For the documentary, they filmed interviews around America with other men with the same name. Their trip abroad became the centre for the show, with critique of the footage and their interviewing technique strong points of the show. Their ability to create stand-alone vignettes and natural storytelling was a highlight, revealing the effort both Clive and Robertson put into their follow up to their previous show ‘Britney’…which is also now the name of their duo, not confusing at all. I strongly believe we will be hearing big things from these two talented performers.

Alice Marshall – Blood
In her show solo show Blood, Alice Marshall captivates her audience with wonderfully executed character sketch comedy. Marshall has great comedic timing, while delivering a punchy hour of pure joy. I can’t wait to see more of her work further down the track.

Ron Bingham

My Squirrel fest started with a couple of excellent Aussie acts which turned out to be highlights Laura Davis (Cake in the Rain) and the Doug Anthony All Stars (Near Death Experience).

The three other shows that made me laugh out loud the most were:

Lucy Pearman – Maid of Cabbage Look What Youu Made Me Do

Demi Lardner – Look What You Made Me Do

Mark Steel – Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright.

Lucy and Demi for their props and general air of controlled chaos, and Mark for his political insights and honesty about his recent marital troubles. I also enjoyed Muriel -(Bad Master) for their use of multimedia and fun sketches and The Canon -(A Literary Sketch Show) for their literary humour

I saw some fabulous new talent (two were deservedly nominated for best newcomer – Lauren Pattison and Lucy Pearman) and caught up with some excellent established acts. Saw some early shows and some late ones, drank a little too much of the free alcohol early on, nearly got blown off the top of Arthurs Seat after seeing a show up there called This Arthur’s Seat Belongs to Lionel Richie, and missed a lot of acts (ones I regret most not managing to fit into my schedule include Sarah Kendall, Ingrid Oliver and Hannah Gadsby). Importantly I only saw two shows which didn’t achieve the high standard I expect. Met a lot of lovely people, as always, and have already pre-booked for next year.

Lauren Pattison – Lady Muck

By Ron Bingham
Lauren Pattison

Eighteen months ago, Lauren decided to move from Newcastle and attempt to build a career as a stand-up comedian in London – all whilst maintaining a long distance relationship with her boyfriend back home. Almost immediately things started to go wrong (especially when she realised there’s no money in comedy). Lauren takes us through her time in London – particularly how she has managed to survive all the adversity to come out a stronger person.

On this journey, we hear about ghosting relationships and how all her schoolmates are doing. She offers theories about what you can tell from what is in someone’s shopping basket and why people on Tinder who are just that bit too eager should be avoided at all costs. She explains why advice from audience members at comedy gigs is never very helpful and how you finalise a relationship properly. We even hear a lot of revelatory stories about how young Geordies start drinking.

Lauren may claim to lack self-confidence, but her stand-up skills are strong and her story-telling is engaging and entertaining. Her message at the end of the show is empowering and there are lots of laughs in this show. No audience participation is required (frowned upon, if anything) and there’s a fair amount of swearing.

The show was sold out, so it may be a good idea to book ahead for this one. Recommended.

Lady Muck is on at Pleasance Courtyard until August 28