The Shelf at Toff In Town

Posted on 18 October 2011

Justin Hamilton is both a delightful person and comedian. Having him as a companion for a three hour show of comedy is a joyous affair that seems to last no time at all. He and the inimitable Adam Franklin MC their Show The Shelf Mondays at Toff in Town.

For the moment The Shelf is only running an October season, but may go on to further seasons. I hope it does. The city has a number of comedy venues. Most of them are fun. Few are what I would describe as classy. I would place The Shelf in the realm of casual classy: you can still tell the odd off-colour joke, but if you threw in a joke about Emmanuel Kant, no one would blink. Except, they might call you an arty Melbourne wanker, which people were claiming to be last night anyway. I loved it.

The Shelf works hard to create a solid balance in how people present their comedy. The first segment of the show was left open to semi-improvised material. The second segment involved set routines. The final segment was Adam’s sprightly trivia quiz. This gave each segment a clear and distinct purpose. The variations kept things interesting. The improvisation kept things fresh. The set routines ensured the end product was tight and professional.

The only weak spot, I found, was the open three way discussion among Adam, Justin, and one of their guests. Somebody needed to be designated as the moderator, because at times the discussion became muddy, and it was hard to hear everyone’s jokes.

I was exceptionally impressed with the obvious effort to ensure we had a good blend of performers to enjoy. We had gay, female, and male comedians all in one night. To knock the whole thing up another notch, it would be wonderful to see some ethnic performers thrown into the mix. Even this much blend created a tangible geniality that made for a happy audience.

The night’s stars included The European Man, Tegan Higginbotham, Steven “Gatesy” Gates, Wil Anderson, and Denise Scott. I feel like a proud parent with Tegan. I remember seeing her early shows and it is so much fun watching her comedy mature. Gatesy proved that he is a comedy force to be reckoned with outside of Tripod. I loved his song about the Sydney Olympics. Wil and Denise were great fun as always. The European Man was my surprise hit of the night. I hope he repeats his routine about a cat interviewing for a corporate position sometime. My jaw hurt from laughing.

The Shelf is a neat package. Despite claims by Justin that it would never make it on TV, I believe the reverse is true. It’s lively, it’s fresh, and has broad appeal. Keep it going you guys! To catch the final show and keep informed of any further seasons check out The Shelf website.

Peace and kindness,

Katherine


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