Watson – Go To Hell!

By Lisa Clark
Go To Hell
Fear is the Mind Killer. Fear can cripple people from living their life with freedom and joy. Two years ago Melbourne Comedy Festival Stalwarts Watson put on a horror comedy show in the historical and genuinely creepy Melbourne Gaol. Anyone who went will never forget all the hilarious and terrifying hijinx that took place in that Gaol. It will no doubt go down in Festival history as one of the best things ever put on at the festival. This year, Watson’ Go To Hell connects through to that show but taking us to the even deeper, darker places in between the two that are the inspiration for this show.

Watson have always loved to play act movies for us and here they get to play out some famous horror film scenes for laughs, but this isn’t the bulk of the show. It’s just part of the whole exploration of fear and links back to a more innocent time for Watson. Things have changed.

Like going to a Horror Movie, from the title and poster of Go To Hell you know you’re in for something scary when you’re seated in the Beckett Theatre but you don’t know what or how. The stage is a big empty black space and the audience doesn’t know when or if anyone will appear behind them or above them or next to them. At least you have the reassurance of being in the safe hands of the endearing and funny Watson crew who will guide you on this rollercoaster ride of a show and bring you through the other side.

The surround sound soundscape is visceral and the original music spine tingling. Director Steven Gates did not create the soundscape, it was created by Gillian Lever but he was obviously a big influence on its existence, he did design the soundscape for Inside with Frank Woodley & Simon Yates and I remember it blew me away.

I can’t tell you about the crux of the show, you’re going to have to find that out for yourself. But you know those sorts of comedy shows that have you crying with laughter then crying with empathy, ‘til it all gets mixed up? You know the sort of show that critics love? This is one of those shows. I loved it.

Go To Hell! is on at The Malthouse Theatre until April 23

Tripod – 101 Hits

By Elyce Phillips Tripod pic

It’s hard to believe it, but Tripod (Scott Edgar, Steven Gates and Simon Hall) have been performing together for 20 years.  Why, it only feels like yesterday that Scod, Gatesy and Yon were in their matching skivvies or whipping up songs in an hour on Triple J. To celebrate this massive achievement, Tripod have released a songbook titled ‘101 Tripod Hits’ – a collection of their best work over the last two decades. In the show version of 101 Hits, the fates decide the playlist, drawing randomly from the book via a bingo cage and 101 numbered balls.

On the evening I attended, there was a good mix of older and more recent material. The bingo cage delivered songs from as far back as Tosswinkle (‘Building An Enid’) to 2013’s Men of Substance (The hilariously choreographed ‘DILF’). The performances got a little shaky on songs being plucked out for the first time in the run, but it’s incredibly impressive that they’re prepared to play whatever the balls decide. On the whole, the performances were fantastic showcasing not only the trio’s musical talent but also their comedic skill. These songs are still so very, very funny, some even becoming more topical with the passage of time.

In the ‘staff picks’ section of the show, Tripod were joined by a special guest, viollinist Xani Kolac, who played a gorgeous rendition of ‘Let’s Take A Walk’. She then stayed on to accompany a performance of ‘Astronaut’, her effects-laden strings turning the song into something hauntingly beautiful, yet still venting the frustrations of those fat gloves.

If you’re a long-time fan, the nostalgia factor will make this a really special show. I was bobbing up and down with excitement when I heard the opening chords of ‘IKEA’, as I was kind of obsessed with the song back in the day (I was a horrifically nerdy teen). But if you’ve somehow missed Tripod until now, it’s a wonderful way to get a feel for what they’re all about.

Although no two shows will be the same, Tripod have a back catalogue so brilliant, you can be sure you’ll have a great time. 101 Hits is a whole lot of fun and a must-see for fans.

Tripod – 101 Hits is on at The Famous Spiegeltent at the Art Centre until April 17


Tripod and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra – This Gaming Life

By Elyce Phillips Tripod

Tripod (Scott Edgar, Steven Gates and Simon Hall) have teamed up with legendary composer Austin Wintory and the MSO to produce a suite of songs about video games that sound as beautiful as they are hilarious. This Gaming Life spans the history of gaming, from the pixelated magic of early arcades to the expansive 3D universe of Skyrim, and explores the depth of Tripod’s relationship with the medium.

The songs in this oratorio are stunning. Yes, there are plenty of gaming references for the nerds in the audience – I did a little inward squeal when they mentioned the Nesingwary quest line from WoW – but more than anything, this is an ode to the social aspects of gaming. How they can cement friendships, help us traverse the distance between ourselves and a loved one, and create lasting memories in impossible landscapes.

This Gaming Life is also incredibly funny. Tripod’s lyrics deftly skewer the industry, gamers and their concerned loved ones. A song targeting the absurd designs of many female characters was my personal favourite. As a special added treat, we also got to experience a beautiful performance of Wintory’s Journey score, complete with some choreography and highly suspect costumes from Tripod.

Partnering with the MSO for this show was absolutely inspired. The impact of the orchestra emphasised the scope of Tripod’s history with gaming. Scod, Yon and Gatesy have the kind of on-stage chemistry that can only come from years and years of working together, and it’s an absolute joy to see them in Hamer Hall in a performance of this magnitude.

As it was only a short run, Tripod’s This Gaming Life has already finished up, but you can check out one of the songs from the show at this beautifully ‘90s website: http://content.mso.com.au/driveking/

Recipients of the 2015 Brian McCarthy Memorial Moosehead Awards

Brian McCarthy Memorial Moosehead Awards are more like a supportive grant and 2 – 4 applicants are chosen each year depending on how exciting and different the ideas are. It is a way of promoting creativity in Comedy and the award includes The Comedy Channel Director’s Grant, which engages a director for each of the Moosehead Award Recipients. If you’ve got some fabulous way out idea for a show that might need some help, you can start thinking about making your application next year.

The winners of the 2015 Moosehead Awards have been announced

They are:


Starring – Bob Franklin, Greg Fleet, Lawrence MooneyBrain child of Steven Gates


Nicholas J Johnson and Sarah Jones



David Quirk

Our congratulations to all of the 2015 Recipients, we look forward to seeing all of these intriguing sounding shows next year during the 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

For more information check out The Moosehead Awards website:


Bob Franklin, Steven Gates & Roz Hammond – The Writers: The Difficult Second Episode

By Lisa Clark

Another weird but entertaining comedy play by Bob Franklin. Although it’s subtitled “The Difficult Second Episode” it also seems to hark back to Bob Franklin (The Librarians) and Steven Gate’s (Tripod) first collaboration Stubborn Monkey Disorder. Could this be the third in Bob Franklin’s Steve & Biscuits Trilogy? They are the main things that all three shows have in common. Stubborn Monkey Disorder was Bob Franklin as reality TV show writer and Steven Gates as his side kick in a rather gothic surreal two hander where the reality TV show gradually came to life. Last year’s Golden Gibbo nominated The Writers where Steven Gates was replaced by two other Steves, Steven Stagg and Stephen Curry in an exploration of the inside of a writers mind.

The Writers: The Difficult Second Episode has a bit of both previous shows, playing around with different writing styles and genres and hinting at darker psychological undertones. It starts with a blackout like Stubborn Monkey Disorder, with Steven Gates back as Bob the writer’s suspicious side-side kick and ex writing partner breaking into the house. Then there are links to last year’s show with the name, the mention of tea and biscuits of course, and that it is a three-hander.

This year Bob and Steven are joined by the fabulous comedic actress Roz Hammond (Mad As Hell) who plays various other main characters. Again there are hints in this show that it is a manifestation of Bob’s mind during the writing process. With Steven representing his guilt and anxieties and Roz playing Bob’s idealised versions of women that come alive in the story. The story itself was often puzzling but became a bit clearer as it went along. Gatesy catches Bob out not only working on a comedy festival show without him but also spending a bit too much time with his ex-wife. Like Bob, it’s fairly slowly paced, absurd, and requires the audience’s attention. There were some patches that felt a bit too ponderous, but it also had some very funny highlights including a short interlude of cabaret from Steven and a deliriously joyful montage.

Although there is not much in the way of a set there are a lot of important sound and lighting cues and everything impressively runs like clockwork. The show over all is very tight and like the previous works is a very cerebral, theatrical piece with a strong British sit-com influence. It’s not as powerful as last year’s The Writers, but I still found many laughs and enjoyed spending the hour with three extremely talented comedy performers.

The Writers: The Difficult Second Episode is on at Melb Town Hall – Regent Room until April 20

Bob Franklin & Steven Gates – Stubborn Monkey Disorder

By Lisa Clark

When word got out that the urbane Sir Bob Franklin and Steven Gatesy Gates from Tripod were teaming up for a festival show this year, you could virtually hear minds boggling all over town. If you enjoy having your mind boggled, this one is definitely for you.

The delightful and surprising thing was discovering what a great team Franklin and Gates make; with Bob unsurprisingly as the straight man and Gates as the comic side kick. Gatesy has taken his dumb and cute character from Tripod and augmented it to the point where he occasionally reminds me of Ardal O’Hanlon in Father Ted in being able to elicit laughs from looking confused. Their banter is the highlight of the show and their ability to deal with the odd technical fault gets such huge laughs that maybe they should leave those bits in.

Stubborn Monkey Disorder is a very tech heavy theatrical piece that sets up a spooky, gothic vibe by beginning in the dark with torchlight and sound effects. The opening creates the expectation of a horror story, especially with the brief flash of one of the performers in a wolf mask that suggests a werewolf story, which sadly never eventuates. There are definitely Hammer elements throughout though, with references to sinister doctors, dungeons and the tale of grave robbers Burke and Hare. The surprisingly satirical elements, especially when having digs at reality TV and the TV industry as a whole, are particularly gleeful.

The problem with the show is that are were so many plots over lapping and interweaving that it can be hard to keep up. There is a dream sequence within a story in particular that feels superfluous as I expected it to be somehow tied in at the end, but it is not. The Meta story involves Gates, having recently performed a failed reality show with Franklin, breaking into the studio where it was filmed. He discovers that Franklin has taken on the persona of a Scottish psychiatrist Dr Hugh Knox; with Gates and the audience suddenly finding ourselves taking part in a group therapy session. I think. I suspect this is a sort of re-enactment of their failed reality show, but it’s not quite clear.

Importantly, Bob Franklin and Steven Gates are so damn funny and adorable and the stories so intriguing and amusing that if you are fans you should not miss this and anyone else will probably have a fun time even if they’re not sure why. I don’t know if it’s a concious influence on them but I think Inception has a lot to answer for. 

Bob Franklin & Steven Gates – Stubborn Monkey Disorder is on at The Melbourne Town Hall in the Regent Room