2010 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Reviews, Part 3

Posted on 12 April 2010

Diane Spencer – Lost In The Mouth Specific

Diane is a wonder. When I saw her show she had only just come back to the mic after receiving surgery, spending several days in the hospital, and now functioning with the help of painkillers. She’s a real testament to “the show must go on”. Though I have to admit, I’m a bigger believer in the performer must go on. Take care of yourself Diane.

I expected and received no less than a smooth professional presentation with lots of laughs from Diane. Some stand-up comedians feel a little generic. They’re fun, but they are interchangeable with one another. Diane’s work bursts with personality. She has a wide enough and confident enough view on the world that she can bring an original glow to familiar situations, making them sparkle for the audience.

Anyone could grasp her poo, sex, and death jokes, but at no point did any of it feel lowest common denominator. In fact her poo story inspired many appreciative grimaces and guffaws. The secret would be how personal she made her material. I loved her “I wanna be an astronaut when I grow up” story. Perhaps because I was another little girl who weirdly drank all the Tang, ate all the protein chocolate bars, and begged for an astronaut pen for Christmas because she thought space stuff was just so cool.

I really hope next year Diane gets picked up for guest spots on Good News Week, 7pm Project, Spicks and Specks, etc. She would be great.

Adam Hills in Mess Around

The glorious thing about Adam Hills is that he genuinely likes his audiences. He’s neither trying too hard to please, nor in a fierce battle to get you to laugh. He’s there, you’re there; his attitude is: “Let’s have a good time together.” This creates a relaxed atmosphere where it’s very easy to improvise with the audience. And that’s what Mess Around is all about.

This year Adam decided to not script so much of his material and just find out what would happen if he had an extended conversation with his audience. The results are delightful. He still has a few anecdotes and themes to move things along, but they are to serve his interactions.

In the performance I attended Adam discovered that one couple attended the Sydney Gay Lesbian Mardi Gras for their anniversary. He thought that was so funny, he arranged for the husband to be camped up behind stage in order to give the wife a thrill. They both had a great time, as did the audience. Adam certainly made his point that everyone is as fun as a celebrity, given half a chance.

Learning comedians would do well to spend time going to an Adam Hills performance. His skills with rapport are superlative. It’s worth learning how to gain that vibe, because that’s what will give you long term appeal.

Denise Scott in Number 26

Denise Scott attracted an interesting audience to her show Number 26. I suppose it’s not surprising she had many women in the audience. HOWEVER, standup comedy until recently has not been considered of interest to women, and this audience had women from their teens to their eighties. The men were largely in their middle ages, but I sat next to a young man in his early twenties. It’s gorgeous seeing such a broad section of Australia coming together for a laugh. It’s also a real testament to Denise’s skill and appeal.

Number 26 is a deeply personal journey through Denise’s life from when she and her partner purchased their house (number 26), and were about to have their first child, to the present. She discusses the trials of starting out in life, dealing with her children’s illnesses, living through affairs, and finally having to move her mother to a hospice. This is the sort of stuff that can potentially grind people down to sad and/or angry husks. Her humour provides the perspective and resilience to see these dips in life through and remain available to those moments of pure joy.

Personally, I would like to see more of Denise on film or TV. She’s an Australian icon at this stage, and yet I think her style of humour would carry well to North America most certainly and possibly to Great Britain. I know I’ve had her in mind on two occasions for some screenplays of my own.



1 Response to 2010 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Reviews, Part 3

  • You write beautifully, I wish I did. I like your optimistic approach, mine is a bit more jaded

    It looks like we have something in common.

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