2014 Melbourne Comedy Festival:
• Jason Chong—Stay Puft

Posted on 11 April 2014 | No responses

Jason Chong should be making television. He’s just this side of being a household name and should be in the ABC’s Warehouse Comedy Festival sometime in the near future. He’s certainly on my dream team list should I ever get a crack at a tv show.

Chong has a winning personality and a goofy sense of humour that’s accessible to a broad audience. He gets away with fart jokes by flashing a conspiratorial grin. He engages the big kid in all of us. These should be more than enough to put him in the A-team of comedy.

His show Stay Puft is about his struggles with losing weight, something most people can relate to. His adventures are delightfully cringe-worthy. He attributes his difficulties to personality traits he shares with different characters in the movie Ghostbusters. His homemade Ghostbuster gear, such as the ghost trap made out of Lite n’ Easy containers, were a brilliant piece of visual humour.

The show is without a doubt a great night out with plenty of laughs. I would like to have had more Ghostbuster jokes, go ahead and play that nerd humour card for all it’s worth. I would like to have had the two story streams better integrated and would like to have seen more of the Stay Puft suit.

Go see Jason Chong, so you can say you were a fan before he became cool. Because honestly, he’s cool right now.

Tickets: www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/stay-puft-jason-chong

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Peace and kindness,

Katherine

2014 Melbourne Comedy Festival:
• 5 for 5 at 5

Posted on 11 April 2014 | No responses

Let’s talk about audiences. This year there are around 480 shows all competing for audiences. Everyone is feeling how thinly spread those punters are. Even when the competition is less fierce among comedians, you still have to compete with television, film, and computer games.

So how do you convince people to turn up at your show? You could play tag with passersby at Melbourne Town Hall. Stuffing flyers into people’s hands willy-nilly. More satisfying and perhaps more effective is participating in a taster show.

A taster show is an affair where a collection of comedians showcase their skills to an audience, giving them the flavour of their individual styles. 5 for 5 at 5 is well placed to encourage people to explore the comedy festival even deeper. For a small investment of five dollars at five o-clock, people can dip their toe into the possibilities without much risk of time or money.

The performance I went to had a solid line-up of comedians with well-honed skills and enjoyable material. Mick Davies does a smooth job as the MC, providing plenty of his own material. His turn as a radio presenter served him well in this role. Stuart Dolman of Wizard Sandwiches shows us what he can do on his own. He has a topnotch stage presence and charismatic delivery. His comic strengths would make him ideal for raconteur style comedy. Michael Hing is sharp and funny, incisively dissecting cultural stereotypes. Adam Knox oozes geeky charm. Sonio di Lorio is the surprise gem with television quality skill and professionalism. Matt Burton’s cuddly Eeyore type persona has a lovely alternative comedy edge to it.

I can highly recommend these sorts of shows as an inexpensive way to promote yourself, if you’re a comedian. I can highly recommend these sorts of shows if you want to dive into comedy as an audience member, but don’t know where to start.

Tickets: www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/5-for-5-at-5

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Peace and kindness,

Katherine

2014 Melbourne Comedy Festival:
• CJ Delling—Reality Bandit

Posted on 10 April 2014 | No responses

If Jerry Seinfeld were a young German woman with glasses, he would be CJ Delling. She has a similar uncomplicated, good-natured, and laid back style.

Comedy gold is found when a performer is both personable and intelligent. You don’t sit there thinking, isn’t Delling clever. Instead you are eager to enjoy the laughs from a fully formed and detailed comic world, made possible by a playful mind.

Reality Bandit is about how we all manipulate our realities and how others manipulate our realities as well. From the way we disguise the existence of farts to people making themselves ill because they dislike wind-powered electrical generators.

Reality manipulation gets particularly fraught when it comes to our love lives. Delling gets big laughs from that amorous awkwardness that causes us to think things such as, if I just had the right exercise shoes then he would notice me.

CJ Delling is such a bright, giggle-worthy spark. Reality Bandit is a great way to start an evening out.

Tickets: www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/reality-bandit-cj-delling

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Peace and kindness,

Katherine

2014 Melbourne Comedy Festival:
• Jeez Louise at Wheeler Centre

Posted on 10 April 2014 | No responses

Well, I took all the notes and was ready to write up a summary, then Crikey beat me to it. That’s fine. Gives me more time to write up reviews. Here’s their coverage of the event.

They all agreed that every time they walk out onto a stage (unless it’s in their own show) there’s immediate judgement on the basis of the gender, but Pascoe said that it’s a problem in comedy that extends even beyond sexism.

“There’s an archetypal image of what a comedian is – a middle-aged man, fat belly and a stupid face – anybody who walks out and doesn’t fit that gets that reaction,” she said.

Funny ladies: women stand up” by Ben Neutze

Peace and kindness,

Katherine

2014 Melbourne Comedy Festival:
• Rod Quantock—Peak-A-Boo

Posted on 9 April 2014 | No responses

Currently in Australia, mainstream media, corporations, and the government are in step with one another. As such it is very hard to hear alternative views or get a complete picture on what is being done to our country. We need subversive voices. Only we need more than people sitting around (or standing up) saying “ain’t it awful”.

Comedy is one of the most effective means to communicate experience, engage people’s empathy, and inspire concern, if not action. It can be used to lull people into inactivity, as with cynical humour. Cynicism breeds apathy: why bother when everything is going to hell in a handbasket anyway. But then you have people like US peace activist Wavy Gravy, US social activist Patch Adams, and Australia’s own Rod Quantock.

These are people who for decades have been brave enough to see past the illusions our societies perpetuate, raise the alarm, and then do something to create change. We aren’t living in a complete on/off situation. Things are going bad, and are going to get worse, when it comes to the economy and the environment. However, it is up to us as far as how bad. How much suffering can we avert for ourselves and others.

Quantock’s show Peak-A-Boo is beautifully structured to make an effective argument for action. He begins by telling stories from his days doing the Bus shows. These shows involved Quantock randomly leading a group of people wearing Groucho Marx masks around Melbourne. The show would regularly gatecrash weddings, graduations, and corporate affairs. These comical experiences would break down the barriers we normally put between ourselves and others, and make it possible to discover more humanity and sometimes more kindness than we realised was in the world.

These experiences are then put in stark contrast to the behaviour governments and corporations feel necessary to take when hand fulls of people simply want to be heard and end up broken and hospitalised by the use of overwhelming force. Suddenly you realise how much you care. That maybe those hand fulls of people, who are just like you, have a point and maybe we should do something.

Peak-A-Boo is an insightful show, a compassionate show, a show of exceptional relevence that young people should be crowding into, because Quantock is talking about their future. And here is a gentle voice of experience that can help them make a difference. After all these years Rod Quantock is still sharp, funny, and a man of acute social vision. Invest in your future and his show.

Tickets: www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/peak-a-boo-rod-quantock

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Peace and kindness,

Katherine

2014 Melbourne Comedy Festival:
• Alexis Simmonds—0-9 Tales of a Straight, Single Cat Lady

Posted on 9 April 2014 | No responses

After seeing a top comedian’s show my partner commented to me, I can see why you prefer shows by newer comedians. Some comedians over time will rely on a sure set of comic bits, rather than taking chances. They invest less of themselves and the performance can become lifeless.

Performers just starting their careers, like Alexis Simmonds, wear their hearts on their sleeves and their jester’s cap at a rakish tilt. Simmond’s show is rough around the edges, but it is full of life. Her endearing performance has soul because we are seeing a real person give everything she has to please her audience.

0-9 Tales of a Straight, Single Cat Lady is a series of stories about love (both furry and human) and creativity. Simmonds’s dating adventures are punctuated by stories of her love of cats, dogs, knitting, and indie music. The strongest moment in her performance is the show-and-tell section where she passes around her upcycled knit creations. They were quirky, colourful, and original, much like their creator. Her pleasure in sharing these items communicated well to her audience. Her talking, knit, dream-catcher cat was pure genius and provided a lot of laughs.

I would suggest to Simmonds that she find the confidence to look more often into the eyes of the people in front of her. Every time she had a minor glitch, Simmonds would glance around and give everyone one of the most winning smiles I’ve seen. It almost made me hope for more glitches.

0-9 Tales is a real charmer. Simmonds has a unique style that needs to be encouraged and nurtured into full bloom.

Tickets: www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/0-9-tales-of-a-straight-single-cat-lady-alexis-simmonds

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Peace and kindness,

Katherine

2014 Melbourne Comedy Festival:
• SQUEAKY CLEAN COMEDY…On Yard Duty!

Posted on 8 April 2014 | No responses

Compassion fatigue is the term sometimes used to describe people losing their ability to care, because they feel inundated by reports of tragedy and suffering. Their sense of overwhelm makes them feel powerless to help. This results in a disastrous cynicism that keeps people from enacting positive change.

Events such as Squeaky Clean Comedy…On Yard Duty help to keep the tone light, while still engaging with the need to help. This year the Squeaky Clean event is in aid of World Vision and their campaign to help improve the education available to aboriginal children. This is no small endeavour.

In the five year period from 2006 to 2010 530 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children died who were less than five years old. Aboriginal children are thirty times more likely to suffer from malnutrition and anemia due to iron deficiencies than other Australian children. In the Northern Territory only 13% of Aboriginal homes have functioning water, waste, cooking, and cleaning facilities. We must address basic needs. We must also help provide the means for these children to achieve self-determination and self-sufficiency.

Your ticket to this event helps World Vision and their education initiatives. It’s an easy trade. And for your time and money you are treated to some solid, top-class comedy and performance.

The MC for the evening is rising comedy star Michael Connell. His humour bears close resemblance to UK comedy superstar Michael McIntyre (maybe it’s the first name that does it). He provides a warm and jovial presence that effortlessly pulls the two hours of entertainment together.

Performers include charming ventriloquist Sarah Jones and her puppet friend Kitty, circus performers Trash Test Dummies, the boyishly cheeky Jason Chong (doing my favourite routine of his which involves a Transformer mask), thrilling wordsmith Joel McKerrow, and laugh out loud funny comedians Mike Klimczak and Danny McGinlay.

This was a solid line up of entertainment, not a clunker in the bunch. On the countrary, we had smooth professional entertainment the equal of the Melbourne International Comedy Gala. They carefully kept the show informative without pressurising the audience. People walked away feeling happy and generous. Excellent job.

Go, have fun, and make the world a little better.

7:30pm Saturday 12 April
Melbourne City Conference Centre
333 Swanston St, Melbourne
Tickets: www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/squeaky-clean-comedy

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Peace and kindness,

Katherine

2014 Melbourne Comedy Festival:
• Jen Wong—Laughable: The One-Liner Show

Posted on 7 April 2014 | No responses

Puns are a complex form of wordplay. Because we have a limited set of phonetics with which to express ourselves, sometimes we have two entire sets of concepts finding themselves overlapping. Finding parallels and relationships between these concepts takes a certain amount of intellect.

Children are fond of puns precisely because they are strengthening their skills with both language and concepts, while playing with the absurd. Puns did not always elicit groans. People used to simply laugh and think, how clever. But the groans aren’t bad, they are often a sign of recognition when our brain catches up with the full implications of a particular pun. A good pun should have a groan followed by a laugh.

Jen Wong’s Laughable: The One Liner Show is replete with puns. She does have the odd one-liner, but for the most part this is a celebration of story and language. Wong’s comedy is clever and demonstrates a quick wit.

One of the more remarkable aspects of this show is how Wong is able to make it an interactive event. She hasn’t just written puns: she asks people about themselves, has them add to a story she is telling in a “choose your own adventure” fashion, then makes up puns on the spot. This is truly raw comedy of the highest calibre. And it’s all so light and breezy, it’s easy to forget what sophisticated skill had to go into making Laughable.

Jen Wong is an exceptional talent. Laughable: The One Liner Show is a real treat. I laughed very hard the whole hour. This is an easy pleaser for almost any type of audience. So, if you don’t know what to see during the comedy festival give Laughable a try, you can’t go Wong (or maybe you can!).

Tickets: www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/laughable-the-one-liner-show-jennifer-wong

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Peace and kindness,

Katherine

2014 Melbourne Comedy Festival:
• Xavier Toby—Mining My Own Business

Posted on 6 April 2014 | No responses

Australian mining is big business. Yet, how many people know the inside story of what mining is like for the workers: where do they live, what do they eat, what are working conditions like. Xavier Toby takes us on a tour of mining’s innermost workings.

After “following his dreams” and participating in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Toby found himself in considerable debt. The solution he decided upon was to call an uncle who could arrange a job for him in Western Australian mining as a “fly in fly out” worker. Aspects of this show are a cautionary tale for young comedians. I strongly suggest you go and get a dose of reality.

Mining is certainly a way to make money fast, but before long Toby has everyone considering, is it really worth it: working in extreme heat, living in tiny dorms, coping with hazing, and under-reported accidents. But hey! the food is great!

Toby weaves a series of delightful and shocking stories with genuine charm. He keeps the audience on the edge of their seats: will Toby survive these ordeals? His endearing desire to make friends throughout his adventures in blokeland provide much giggle worthy pathos. Despite a “lack of acting skills” his expressive antics add much to the flavour of the show.

Mining My Own Business is informative and big laugh funny. Go see Xavier Toby in his Hawaiian shirt—it’s worth it.

Tickets: www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/mining-my-own-business-xavier-toby

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Peace and kindness,

Katherine

2014 Melbourne Comedy Festival:
• Stella Young—Tales from the Crip

Posted on 4 April 2014 | No responses

A recent scientific study found evidence that people become more empathetic after reading certain sorts of fiction. Basically, you imagine what it is like to be certain characters in order to follow the plot, thereby gaining an emotional connection. What I love about live comedy shows is that we imaginatively enter so many different people’s worlds, discover what their lives are like, and learn to care about them through humour.

Stella Young is a talented comedian, journalist, and disability advocate. She has Osteogenesis imperfecta, a form of dwarvism that causes her to have brittle bones. When people are categorised and kept separated because it is more “convenient”, for whom is of course the question, we start losing the ability to understand or empathise with the diversity that is humanity. Hearing stories such as Young’s helps to bridge the gap.

Young’s humour is intelligent and delightfully goofy. The stories she tells about how other people cope with her disability takes the blinkers off our often limited vision of what it’s like to be Young, or anyone else with significant variations from the mainstream.

She covers the different words for “crips”, takes us through a 1970s book on how to treat the disabled, tells us about her experiences with sex, and the time she was on a television show with a scientist who was promoting eugenics. My favourite story had to do with a child believing Young was an imaginary friend.

Tales from the Crip is a wonderful evening of entertainment. Young’s skill and professionalism deserve bunches of stars. Tell me how many you want Stella Young, and you’ve got them from me.

Tickets: www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/tales-from-the-crip-stella-young-in

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Peace and kindness,

Katherine

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