Saturday 23 April 2022

The Disappearing Act review (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)

The audience waits excitedly for the magician to appear. You can feel the anticipation in the room as we face the stage, where a large chest sits. Where could our magician be? And then magically she is here! But this is not the magician, but the magician's assistant, and so begins Maria Angelico's Melbourne International Comedy Festival show The Disappearing Act. Neither Angelico nor her tech assistant knows where the magician is, and frantic calls are made to his various girlfriends to locate him. But as the saying goes, the show must go on and Angelico takes the to the stage!

Naturally there are laughs to be had as this is being presented as part of the Comedy Festival, but the show's inspiration comes from the true story of Angelico's father, a well-known magician, who was absent for much of her life and instilled a household with domestic violence and abuse. You notice these anxieties and vulnerabilities manifesting throughout her performance; that there is something else simmering in her attempt to put on this magic show.

Thursday 21 April 2022

Dyslexic Cowboy review (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)

Who is the Dyslexic Cowboy? In Lachie Ross' Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, Dyslexic Cowboy, it really doesn't matter. In 50 minutes, Ross performs a variety of sketches, stand-up and all that’s in between in his absurdist leaning solo comedy debut.


Ross is on the ball from the moment the show begins. His enthusiasm and dedication to his characters and each sketch is refreshing, particularly given the short duration of each skit. His ability to switch between “performing” and being himself because something has gone wrong, when it’s all part of the show, is well executed and entertaining to watch.

Sunday 17 April 2022

To Schapelle and Back review (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)

Alex Hines is having a pretty crappy birthday. Her dad is missing and Blockbuster is closed. What's a private schoolgirl on a swimming scholarship meant to do? Well not much, because the ancient doppelgänger curse is about to strike and Alex's life is about to become inextricably linked to that of Aussie icon, Schapelle Corby. Alex will need to go To Schapelle and Back in order to see the light on the other side in this incredibly twisted and outlandish Melbourne International Comedy Festival offering. 

While having some background knowledge about who Schapelle is would help with some of the show's subtle (and overt) humour and observations, its look at Australian culture and sense of identity is broad enough for everyone's entertainment. This isn't a show exclusively about Schapelle Corby. Hines' ability to take pop culture references, such as Mr. Squiggle, Big Brother and Chris Crocker, and mould them into something that can slide seamlessly into the Corbyverse is very impressive and reinforces the confidence that Hines has as a performer.

Saturday 16 April 2022

I Hope My Keyboard Doesn't Break review (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)

Gabbi Bolt's I Hope My Keyboard Doesn't Break may be her first solo show but Bolt is no stranger to musical theatre (Ratatouille the TikTok Musical and Schapelle! Schapelle! The Musical) or to comedy (The Chaser). Bringing these two together for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Bolt sings her way through various worries and concerns she has about the world around her, like climate change, as well as issues that are of a more intimate nature, like whether she chooses to have children or not.

Bolt is extremely personable and relatable with her commentary. It never feels like she is simply going through a list of issues and ticking them off, but that each one actually means something to her, regardless of how important or impactful on the world it might be. She is one of those performers who can pack out a venue but is engaged with every single person there and gives the impression that she is speaking (and singing) to each individual in the room.

Friday 15 April 2022

Dazza and Keif Reenact the Titanic Movie Playing All the Roles review (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)

They've gone viral, and they've gone into space...where to next for local superstars Dazza and Keif? The movies of course. After spending lockdown together at Dazza's mum's house and watching the masterpiece Titanic on repeat, the two besties (#NoHomo) have decided to reenact the film by playing all the characters. But we are assured this will be fun as they have cut out all the boring chick dialogue and added some fully sick dance moves. Welcome to Dazza and Keif Reenact the Titanic Movie Playing All the Roles.

Having seen the digital delivery of Dazza and Keif Reenact... at Melbourne Fringe last year, I did debate going as I had essentially seen the show. However, this experience was a reminder that nothing can top live theatre and being in the same room as this rapturous audience giving huge applause and cheers made this a completely brand new show with non-stop laughs.

Thursday 14 April 2022

Poncho: Keep it Up! review (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)

It's been five years since Dani Cabs' alter ego Poncho graced Melbourne stages and in that time, while he has definitely matured, his humour has fortunately not waned. In Poncho: Keep it Up!, our charming, orange, good-times seeker brings a mix of physical comedy, clowning and storytelling discussing ideas on who we are and what we should strive to be, that are equally entertaining and honest.

Armed with just a rack consisting of a variety of orange clothing on the stage, all eyes are on Poncho, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Poncho feeds off audience interaction and welcomes the occasional impromptu comment or laughter from the audience. Cabs is so comfortable in his Poncho skin that he is never thrown by audience suggestions or responses and remains and responds in character to whatever happens.

Cabs possesses great comedic timing and shares genuine engagement with his audience. During his storytelling/spoken word moments, even behind the facade of this Latin clown, there are interesting observations and statements made about identity and society that are even more potent given the comedic lens they are told through.

Sunday 3 April 2022

Bunny review (Melbourne International Comedy Fetival)

New Zealand performer Barnie Duncan returns to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with a show that is quite unlike what he has done in the past. His trademark absurdity is still evident in Bunny, but Duncan's dissection of whether dancing at a nightclub at 3am was a way of dealing with his grief or avoiding it after his mother passed away last year, adds a level of intimacy and vulnerability that is often difficult to convey on stage.

While a few jokes don't land that well, or have been tacked on for a cheap laugh (Will Smith's Oscars behaviour is already such a tired punchline), Duncan shows strong control of the audience and meeting the expectations we have upon entering this surreal show about clubbing and death. The unique way in which Duncan sees and understands the world is clearly presented, and with an open heart he shares the complexities of dealing with grief and mourning the death of a loved one, particularly during a pandemic.

So Brave review (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)

As Madeleine Stewart says, it's not easy being a one-handed person in a two-handed world. Performed as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, So Brave is a witty look at life through the lens of a disabled woman searching for love. No stone is left unturned as Stewart gets political, philosophical and sexual in a show that has plenty of laughs but is also a critical commentary on our society.

Stewart has a wonderful presence on stage and her storytelling immediately warms the audience. While she begins with one liners and zingers about her disability, including a resemblance she has to a certain American actor, she sets the scene well about being a woman trying to find love (and lust) in a society that is determined to keep reminding her she is different.