Reviews: Adelaide Fringe & Melbourne International Comedy Festival (Part 2)

Posted on 21 April 2009

It’s almost sad wrapping up these festival reviews. That means I have to come to terms with inter-festival blues. Oh where, oh where is all that nonstop comedy? Well, I guess I shall have to make my own, which I am, but I will have to tell you about it in another posting.

Jeff Green in Living the Dream

Jeff Green is a consummate one-liner standup comedian. He will make a comment about life as a newly-wed, then snap off another one about some observation concerning old married couples. In previews he was doing this with a
confident effortlessness that made even muffed jokes funny.

I enjoyed listening to Green tossing out jokes like bird seed to all the different segments of his audience: young, old, male, female, etc. If a joke didn’t strike home for some people, they just had to wait a few moments and jokes aimed specifically for them would come flying out. Eventually, all the birds were fed. This is not a necessary approach to standup, you can successfully speak to a very specific audience. It’s also impressive to watch someone who can generate broad appeal.

Rating: 1 Rodney Dangerfield, 1 George Carlin, and 1 Dudley Moore

Hannah Gadsby in Kiss Me Quick I’m Full of Jubes

Okay, I’m cheating here. I’m putting the name of Gadsby’s show here in order to help promote it, since I believe she deserves promotion. This year I saw her in Going Ape at the Zoo, which goes over several nights and includes several comedians each night doing a short routine. She also compered the Jeez Louise Faux Show for the dead beginner standups.

I’ve seen Hannah Gadsby in several shows over the last several years. I find it fascinating watching her hone her skills. Jokes that used to meander before getting to their point Gadsby has now edited them down to laser-like precision, requiring one short line to get a big laugh. She’s also using more acting and improvisation skills to ratchet up the fun. During her Going Ape routine one of the jokes bore some fortuitous relationship to the big orangutan figure hanging over the stage. Gadsby gave the orangutan one small meaningful look and the audience was in tears from laughter.

At Jeez Louise I took the workshop on MCing. We were taught to be funny without overshadowing the other performers and do what we can to support each act, getting the best audience response possible. Gadsby was superb in keeping the audience up and ready to laugh, and generous in her supportive responses to each performer’s routine. I hope she’s getting lucrative positions as an MC, she deserves it.

Rating: 1 Carol Burnett, 1 Steven Wright, and 1 Jay Leno

Aaron Keeffe in It’s Not You, It’s Me…Too!

Aaron Keeffe had the unenviable position of presenting a show with a similar theme and structure to it as a film that had just been released: A Complete History of My Sexual Failures. This was Keefe’s second version of his show that involved him surveying his old girlfriends about what did and did not work in their relationships. So, he by no means was copying the idea from the film.

What saves Keeffe is that ultimately his routine wins as the better work. The subject matter is a little self-indulgent, but he comes off as interested in the state of human affairs, rather than bitter or self-aggrandising into which this material could so easily have slipped. He invited the audience to call an old lover and share the moment. Given how entertaining his experiences had been, a few of us were tempted to give it a try…but who keeps on them phone numbers from relationships long gone?

Aaron Keeffe is a good example of how much likeability and a balanced attitude will buoy up just about any routine.

Rating: 2 Jerry Seinfelds, 1 Bob Denver

Peace and kindness,

Katherine


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