Tuesday 14 March 2017

CULL - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

We've all had that moment going through our Facebook feed and see the 17th meme from someone in two hours, or another baby update or another instance of keyboard activism and wonder why exactly we are friends with these people. Returning to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Honor Wolff and Patrick Durnan Silva's CULL delves into the deep dark recesses of social media as they bring to life all the annoying people we so desperately wish would leave the platform, or at at the very least, unfriend them.

The show is based on a conversation that Silva and Wolff had about the 'personalities' that appear on Facebook and with the constantly changing ways of using and interacting with social media, there have been some changes made to the show since its initial prodcution. "Whenever we see a new social media trend or meme that’s really funny or bizarre, we seek to include it in our show," Wolff tells me.

"Honor and I usually do a sacrificial ceremony where we smear the blood against the walls until we seize and something comes to us," Silva adds. "However we have kept some of our old sketches that maybe seem less relevant now like the nek nominations or the Pitch Perfect cup song, mainly because they’re still so ridiculous and hilarious to play."

But the creative process isn't all likes and retweets, with the creators deep-diving in research for countless hours on how to bring these people to life. "We’ll watch hours of YouTube videos, Vines, Instagram stories and scroll through our own newsfeeds until we’re inspired by all of our 'friends' and then we’ll find a space, spend hours improvising and riffing off each other and write down whatever makes one of us crack up laughing," Wolff explains.

Having been on both ends of a "Facebook culling", it can come as quite a bit of a surprise to people when it happens, sometimes leading to heated exchanges - oddly via Facebook. It seems that there is an increasing number of people spending more and more time maintaining their social media relationships rather than their face-to-face ones, which is something Silva and Wolff agree with. "We live in a world in which the number of friends you have and likes you receive affirms your own sense of worth," Silva says. "Every time your phones goes off saying so and so likes your photo, even if you haven’t met the person, you get a burst of serotonin, you feel good about yourself, and you feel validated and socially relevant."

"However, if someone culls you from their Facebook or unfollows you on Instagram it feels like a personal attack," Wolff continues. "As if you're not interesting enough and it hurts even if that person is inconsequential to your non-online life. We’re fragile egocentric creatures. But, like, please like our Facebook page The Very Good Looking Initiative."

Despite their show, the two's usage of social media has not really changed. "I’ve always considered the whole thing about having thousands of Instagram followers and 300 likes on every photo uploaded to be bit shallow and vapid, except if I have a really hot new profile picture - then I want heaps of likes," Silva laughs. "What has changed for me from creating and performing CULL is the pressure to care more about my social media presence. Being a young, independent theatre maker and actor, a social media presence is vital in order to sell tickets and start a buzz around yourself and your show. If people don’t know you, or like you - they’re less likely to see your show, unless it's my mum, she’ll always come my show."

"I’ve always been quite the social media whore since the first day I got a smart phone. The more we do the show the more I try to up my game with my photo skills and demented pictures on Instagram as well as writing the most witty/relevant status on Facebook," Wolff goes on to say. "If anything, performing CULL has reminded me how much I love social media and that without it, I wouldn’t have such rich material to work with."


The one food I cannot live without is

Silva: Garlic
Wolff: Jalna fat free yoghurt 

My most cringeworthy moment in public is 
S: Calling my local barista Kate for a year and a half and then being told her actual name’s Nicole.
W: Me and my sister pressing all the buttons in an elevator in a high rise building after being dared by our cousin and then getting caught and yelled at by a woman and her husband who said they’d tell the manager - It still brings back hot flushes.

A movie that sums up my life is 
S: The Hours because I love comedy.
W: Galaxy Quest because I’m an out of work actor who wishes Doctor Who was real and that I could travel to space and help save worlds. 

How many seconds can pass before you can't eat food off the floor? 
S: Two seconds if it’s not solid food and one minute if your pay hasn’t come through yet.
W: Zero - ew Patrick, you’re gross. 

During MICF, I really want to 
S: Hang with some funny people and meet a sugar daddy who’ll produce all my shows.W: Make people laugh and see as many shows as possible.

Venue: Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt St, Southbank.
Season: 11 - 23 April | Tues - Sat 9.15pm, Sun 8.15pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $30 Full | $25 Conc
| $20 Tightarse Tuesday and Preview
Bookings: MICF website 

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