Stephen Hall – Letters From My Heroes

By Peter Newling

Stephen Hall is one of the unsung heroes of Australian Comedy. While many will be familiar with his amazing on-camera character work for Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell (think Darius Horsham, Donald McEngadine et al), his work as a contributary writer on some of Australia’s best comedies is perhaps lesser known. He worked on such classics as The Hollowmen, BackBerner, Full Frontal, Spicks & Specs, Newstopia and Adam Hills Tonight – to name but a few. From this it’s easy to see that he keeps very good company, and is much in demand in the worlds of political satire, impersonation and topical comedy.

His 2023 MICF offering allows him to show off all of these remarkable skills.

Letters From My Heroes is not your usual festival stand-up show. It’s a series of quite excellent impersonations, loosely held together with some (sometimes quite tenuous) links. The central device sees Hall try and imagine what various celebrities might write back to him in response to requests for advice. This gives him a chance to pay homage to an impressive array of celebrities, including past and present Aussie comics, Hollywood stars, historical figures and even the occasional cartoon character. The diverse themes are drawn together at the end in a most unexpected and delightful way.

Moments of the show are surprisingly personal, with Hall sharing insights into how his background has influenced his work, and his own choice of hero. The show also offers an opportunity to reflect on how culture and taste determine who should and shouldn’t be impersonated.

In an interview last year, Hall spoke of his approach to impersonation, and making sure he’s got the inflections, rhythms and body movements of his impersonatee just right. He said: “I’m quite forensic about it, as I tend to be with most impressions. There’s a lot of analysis and study behind the scenes before the performance that the audience doesn’t see”.

That forensic analysis and quest for precision is the hallmark of his work. Most importantly, he shows great respect for those who he impersonates.

The early start time makes Letters From My Heroes an ideal way to kick off a night at the festival. It’s not side-splitting stuff, but it’s a great opportunity to watch one of Australia’s comedy legends at work.

Stephen Hall – Letters From My heroes is playing March 30 to April 23 at the ACMI Swinburn Studio at 6:00pm (Tues to Sat) and 5:00pm (Sundays).

Shows at the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival previously reviewed by Squirrel Comedy

By Colin Flaherty

It’s not long until the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival gets into full swing. To assist you in navigating the colossal program, here are 26 shows that we have reviewed in other festivals. Keep in mind that all shows will have undergone a fair bit of spit and polish since we last saw them.

2014 – When We Were Idiots: A Comedy Walking Tour Hosted by Xavier Toby
Burke & Wills Statue, City Square (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Alexis Simmonds 0-9 Tales of a Straight, Single Cat Lady
Comedy On Collins (MICF 2013)

Andy Matthews – String Theory
ACMI – Games Room (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

The Boy With Tape on His Face – More Tape
Forum Theatre – Upstairs (Adelaide Fringe 2014)

Cam Knight – 100 Percenter
The Upstairs Lounge @ Hairy Little Sista (Adelaide Fringe 2014)

CJ Delling – Reality Bandit
The Bull and Bear Tavern (Adelaide Fringe 2014)

FanFiction Comedy
Melb Town Hall – Cloak Room (Edinburgh Fringe 2013) & (MICF 2013)

Impromptunes: The Completely Improvised Musical
Trades Hall – The Annexe (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

The Improv Conspiracy : A Night in Chicago
The Croft Institute (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Marek Platek : Wormhole
The Provincial Hotel (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Juliette Burton – When I Grow Up
Trades Hall – The Meeting Room (Edinburgh Fringe 2013)

Late Night Letters and Numbers
Melb Town Hall – Powder Room (MICF 2013)

The Little Dum Dum Club Live Podcasts! Five Boroughs
(MICF 2013)

Marcel Lucont : Gallic Symbol
The Tuxedo Cat (Adelaide Fringe 2013)

Nellie White is The Shitty Carer
Imperial Hotel (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Political Asylum Late Night Riot!
Melb Town Hall – Supper Room (MICF 2013)

Pop Mashup : Happy Birthday Doctor
The Butterfly Club (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Radio Variety Hour
Comedy On Collins (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Rhys Nicholson – Eurgh
Portland Hotel – Gold Room (Adelaide Fringe 2014)

Sam Allen & Chris Harrigan Inside the Egg: The Life of Anne Geddes’ Prisoner Children
ACMI – Games Room (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Set List
Melb Town Hall – Lower Town Hall & Victoria Hotel – Vic’s Bar
ttp:// (MICF 2013)

Simon Taylor : Funny
Imperial Hotel (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Sitcom Theme Song Singalong and Trivia
The Provincial Hotel & Imperial Hotel (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Stephen Hall : Raiders of the Temple of Doom’s Last Crusade
Comedy On Collins (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Wizard Sandwiches : The Last Lunch
Trades Hall – The Music Room (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Wolf Creek : The Musical
Trades Hall – Old Council Chambers (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Stephen Hall – Raiders of Doom’s Last Crusade

By Elyce Phillips 

The Indiana Jones films have a special place in the hearts of many a film fan.  Their blend of action and humor, not to mention being helmed by what remains one of the coolest  protagonists ever created, made them as close to perfect an example of the adventure genre as there has ever been. Stephen Hall has taken on the challenge of condensing three of the most beloved movies of our times into a single hour, performing all the characters himself. The result is a loving homage that captures the spirit of the original trilogy, but is not afraid to poke some fun.

Hall blazes through the three Indiana Jones films at breakneck pace (We won’t speak of ‘Crystal Skull). The man has clearly done his research. His method of taking on the characters is stripped-back – there are no drastic changes of appearance, but through his mannerisms he manages to distill the essence of all the main players in a way that is immediately recognizable. Hall’s rendition of Dr. Brody was particularly great. Visually tricky sequences are handled in wonderfully lo-fi ways – the show’s solution to re-creating the iconic map sequences is hilariously simple.

Hall keeps the energy up through the entire hour. He throws himself into the last chase scene with as much gusto as he does the first. It’s impressive how much of the plot is crammed into the hour. All the major story points are in there, and there are a few sly nods to things that had to be cut. Despite the cracking pace that the story needs to travel at to fit into the allotted time, it’s easy to follow. If you haven’t seen the Indiana Jones films, you would still get a kick out of the show. However, fans will get this most out of this. It’s an absolute joy to see the tiny little details that Hall has managed to weave into the show.

‘Raiders of Doom’s Last Crusade’ is a must-see for fans of Indiana Jones. Hall’s version is every bit a quick-witted and action-packed as the originals, and twice as funny.

Stephen Hall – Raiders of Doom’s Last Crusade is showing at The Fringe Hub – Meeting Room at North Melbourne Town Hall until October 5.