Sunday 9 April 2023

The Candidate review (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)

Mandy Nolan ran for the Federal seat of Richmond (Northern NSW) as the Greens candidate and lost. She lost by a 2% margin. In The Candidate, the comedian recalls the experience of running in a federal election and the impact this had on her.

Nolan is an extremely likeable and engaging speaker and it's very easy to see how she came so close to winning the seat in an electorate that is a bit too open to COVID and 5G conspiracy theories with a strong anti-vax mentality. She shows great ability in smoothly transitioning from completely ridiculous but factual encounters to the serious aspects of a feminist comedian running for politics, and the subsequent politics of running for politics.

We are told of Nolan’s fighting for what’s right attitude that has spanned over two decades, beginning in 1997 when she organised a nude protest against police fining people for being nude at Byron Bay. It’s a perfect example of Nolan’s skill in sharing her humour while highlighting her passion for activism and the frustrations that come with choosing to enter politics, particularly for a woman.

The show starts with Nolan telling us how it will end, with her being admitted into a COVID ward without having COVID and people dying around her. It's the only moment of the show where its insertion feels forced and awkward, and it would be beneficial for some re-thinking about how this is introduced and linked to the rest of The Candidate, which otherwise has a brilliant flow.

Over the last few years, politics has been considered as quite the joke, but for all the wrong reasons. With The Candidate, Nolan gives her audience the right reasons to laugh about politics. Nolan has said she will run again for the seat of Richmond at the next election. Hopefully this doesn’t mean the end of her stand-up career because this comedian definitely gets our vote.


Venue: Melbourne Town Hall, 100 Swanston St, Melbourne
Season: until 23 April | Tues - Sat 7:40pm, Sun 6:40pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $28-32 Full | $26 Conc and Tightarse Tuesday
Bookings: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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