Tuesday 22 March 2016

Epic Comedy at The Butterfly Club - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival has a staggering 600-odd shows being performed during its season, so the choice of what show to see can be somewhat overwhelming as well as navigating around all the different venues around Melbourne. Fortunately, iconic Melbourne venue, The Butterfly Club has you covered, presenting 19 shows that spans a huge variety of comedy styles.

"I think it's very kind of you to infer we are any good at all, so thank you for the compliment," says The Butterfly Club director, Simone Pulga. "We received some 200 enquiries for this year's festival and reading through them was a reward in itself. The majority turned out to be remarkably well thought-out projects and when that happens, the job at hand is to focus on quality and variety: lots of different shows, all performed by people who know exactly what they're doing."

Friday 18 March 2016

Lady Sings It Better: Here To Save The World - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

Returning for a second time to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this year are four women bravely taking on the world's most famous male musicians. Lady Sings It Better's Here To Save The World is a humourous yet eye-opening look at pop, rock, r&b and hip-hop and revealing the blatant misogynism in the lyrics and the strange themes explored in the songs. Last year, the group covered Baha Men's Who Let The Dogs Out? and Fountain of Wayne's seriously disturbing Stacey's Mom, and I for one, am extremely eager to see what they come up with for this cabaret show.

"I am stupidly excited about the new show!" Maeve Marsden, Artistic Director and member of Lady Sings It Better exclaims. "We’re doing a Prince medley which is great because his music is so good. Libby Wood is singing Last Night by Az Yet and we’ve learnt all the dance moves from their AMAZING 90s music video. We’re exploring the various ways that Kanye West has talked about his dick and we’re covering Sorry by Justin Bieber in a fairly surprising way, which I am excited about because it means I get to watch its amazing video to practice. And the show is superhero themed so we have an epic superhero medley to kick it off!"

Thursday 17 March 2016

Reuben Kaye: Plugged! - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

Burlesque and cabaret star, Reuben Kaye returns to Australia for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, for, by his own admission, the "most awfully titled show" in the festival, Plugged. "I was so proud of it at first thinking it was a nice pun on "Live and Unplugged", and then when I announced it to a group of friends at a bar, one person choked on their drink, and the rest just fell silent. In the distance a child began to cry. I knew I had found my title." Kaye says.

Plugged has Kaye sharing songs, stories, shame and regret with his audience in a way "where vanity meets desperation and self-awareness meets a brick wall." Other than that, your guess is as good as Kaye's as to what to expect! "What is it about? you know, I have no idea. And it’s my show! I guess it’s the never ending story of on man and his quest for applause." When asked to describe himself and shows to people who have never seen him before, his answer is if I have seen the dentist scene from The Marathon Man. At the time I hadn't, but now I have and...maybe just watch it and come to your own conclusions. Or maybe don't, and be surprised by what you encounter?

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Isabella Valette: Princesstuous - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

She was a "mediawhore" for Adelaide Fringe, and now for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Isabella Valette will be a Princess, with a twist of course. Directed by Fiona Scott-Norman, Princesstuous explores a common theme running throughout the villains of fairy-tales. Snow White had one, The Little Mermaid had one and Cinderella had one too; an older, angry woman trying to hold her down.

"A friend and I were talking about the Disney films we’d grown up on and identified a theme of older women as arch-villains, who were always jealous of the young, beautiful princesses," explains Valette. "That got us thinking about competition among women, the female fear of ageing, Nietzsche's philosophy on slave culture and the kind of qualities that are highlighted around princess culture as being a positive. A lot of the villains were powerful, talented women who were victims of their beauty/youth-obsessed worlds. I have also been inspired by the essay ‘Royal Bodies’, looking at the ‘princess effect’ in real life, and our relationship to royal women.” 

While there is still a long way until the representation of women and their relationships with other women begin to be honestly explored, Valette feels progress is being made. "I think a lot of modern Disney and Pixar films, like most other Hollywood blockbuster films, are becoming far more aware of trying to create stronger female characters. Frozen is the obvious example, so is Mad Max and Star Wars," she says. "It would still be nice to have anti-heroes, flawed women, not overtly masculine or feminine protagonists. I think sometimes we are so en-cultured to seeing female characters as being either good or evil, and not so much grey territory. I also liked that in Mad Max, Charlize Theron’s character challenged the preconception of having to be beautiful and sexy. She had her own thing going on and she wasn’t dressed to the tits in tight spandex or a princess dress."

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Eli Matthewson : Faith - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

A wise man (George Michael) once said, "'cause I've got to have faith". Eli Matthewson had that. The New Zealand comedian grew up in a devoted Christian household but eventually turned his back on Jesus for a life of "guilt-free sinning". His show at this year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Faith, recounts his journey from being a believer to a non-believer.
"My family were pretty conservative when I was growing up - 5 kids, Christian family driving around in a van listening to Christian cassettes. I sung in the church band, and my first ever play was a show set in a Virtual Reality Basketball world which we did for Sunday Schools," he says. "I was never really "feeling it" though, and showed up mainly for performance opportunities. I went to Church less for Jesus and more so I could try and be the centre of attention. I stopped going in High School and now I have no religion, just a constant looming fear of death!"

Monday 14 March 2016

Mae Martin: Us - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

Canadian-born, London-based Mae Martin is debuting her solo show in Australia at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Called Us, the show explores the labels that people give us and the labels that we give ourselves. Martin's look at a variety of themes including identity, sexuality and loneliness made her one of the breakthrough performers at Edinburgh Fringe and she is more than a little bit excited to be heading over to our shores with Us.

"I've always wanted to do the Melbourne Comedy Festival because everyone raves about it and I'm so excited to have been invited," she says. "I'm also a huge fan of very long flights. If I don't get served at least 3 meals on a flight I don't feel I've got my money's worth, so this is perfect for me. I'll watch 17 films."

Saturday 12 March 2016

Neal Portenza: Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza. Tracey - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

Neal Portenza: Catchy Show Title made it into my top ten shows of last year, and having seen 154 shows, it was quite a list. The show's absurdist comedy and ability to create hysterical situations out of the most mundane left quite an effect on me that had me laughing a whole lot longer than when it ended. Neal Portenza returns to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this year with Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza. Tracey. The name alone had me laughing out loud, literally, and is a clear indication of the type of show that audiences can expect.

"I’m happy you like the title of the show. I’m certain you’re in the overwhelming minority,"
explains the alter-ego of Neal Portenza, Joshua Ladgrove. "I sort of stopped giving up caring about things like show titles and posters and the mechanics of doing a festival show, so I thought this title reflects that attitude of ‘it’s all meant to be a joke anyway, so why take it so seriously?"

Thursday 10 March 2016

Butt Kapinksi - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

Butt Kapinski. The name alone drives fear into the hearts of the coldest of criminals. This Private Investigator, means serious business when it comes to solving crime. Their no holds barred approach in this comedy film noir murder mystery puts the audience as active participants in the show but with more emphasis on having an immersive experience rather than the dreaded audience participation that so many fear!

"Audience participation shows usually involve somebody getting dragged up on stage and made a fool of. That never happens in my show," Denna Fleysher, the US-based performer of Butt Kapinski confirms. "Nobody gets out of their seat. It's more like The Rocky Horror Show. It's fun to be a part of, nobody gets embarrassed, and everyone has a lot fun.

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Rob Caruana: Silent Comedy - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

Many would agree that a comedians best tool is his voice, after all, how can you tell a joke or a story without using your voice? But for this year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Melbourne based comedian Rob Caruana is taking that away. In his aptly titled show, Silent Comedy, Caruana presents a three-act solo black and white silent cinematic experience that is bound to leave audiences speechless.

"Don’t expect me to talk, but there will be orchestral music playing the entire time that will relate to what’s happening on stage," Caruana explains. "I want people to feel like they are watching a live silent film that’s been blended with stand-up comedy. It’s a show that will cover various topics including how hard it is to write and perform silent comedy."

Clara Cupcakes: Hot Patootie - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

One of Melbourne's favourite vaudevillian and raconteur returns to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with another offering of her unique humour and take on life. Yes, Clara Cupcakes is back with one of my favourite show titles in this year's festival, Hot Patootie.

"Hot Patootie
is fun! Like really fun! Well I guess that's all opinion but I have so much fun performing it so I would hope that it's fun for people watching. It's a choose your own adventure style show so the whole audience gets involved which is nice," Clara explains. "It's actually two different shows - Hollywood and Circus. The audience picks which one they want to see and then there are a whole bunch of choices within the show they get to make. I have no idea what the show is going to look like when it starts. That's pretty fun for me!" 

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Claire Healy: A Little Too Much Information - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

First there was Overshare, now there is A Little Too Much Information. Cabaret performer Claire Healy returns to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with a show that looks at the aspects of our lives we tend to gloss over or just not pay much attention to. Fresh from Adelaide and Perth Fringe (where the show was nominated for Best Cabaret in the Perth Fringe World Weekly Award), Healy's quirky sense of humour and musical insight into life's smallest moments result in quite a hilarious experience for audiences.

"A Little Too Much Information is about love, loss, a deep connection with German discount supermarkets and my ability to continually make fairly poor life choices," Healy laughs. "I also sing a bit! The show is like when I get drunk at parties and tell strangers weird things about myself... except this time it's through song so it's more socially acceptable. It seems to be a thing I do a lot (both getting drunk at parties and getting overly honest), but I like that when I open it all up (metaphorically, of course), everyone else opens themselves up as well and we find out we're all secretly a bunch of weirdos. Truly excellent weirdos."

Thursday 3 March 2016

Eleanor's Story preview

In 1939, 9 year-old Eleanor Ramrath Garner and her German born parents decided to move back to Germany to escape the hardships of the Great Depression in America. On their way, war broke out and they found themselves unable to return to America. What followed Eleanor was 9 years of keeping hope, struggling for stability and facing hunger and death on a regular basis.

60 years later, Eleanor published her memoirs of this experience entitled Eleanor's Story. Skip ahead 14 years and her grand-daughter, Ingrid Garner, has adapted her story for the stage and returns to Australia for a Melbourne season at Chapel off Chapel. "I am so excited to be back, I love Australia, it’s my favourite place to visit," she says. "I get to see the friends I haven’t seen in a year, and it’s like no time has passed. The audiences I’ve had here are incredibly receptive to the play and make me feel appreciated."

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Time-travelling with Night Terrace

Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of science fiction. I have never watched Dr. Who and even Star Wars has never really appealed to me. So when I came across the science fiction comedy audio series Night Terrace, I was a little apprehensive about whether this type of show would be geared towards me, however, halfway through the first episode I was very much hooked.

Created by Ben McKenzie, David Ashton, Petra Elliott, John Richards and Lee Zachariah, the story revolves around retired scientist Anastasia Black, who discovers her terrace home is able to travel through time and space. The first episode "Moving House" sets the scene with Anastasia meeting university student Eddie Jones and initiates us into the world(s) of Night Terrace while at the same time, throwing us into the adventures - and misadventures - they find themselves in.