2012 Melbourne International Comedy Festival:
• Cam Marshall in Father, Father

Posted on 23 April 2012

Father, Father is a middle of the road show: middle age, middle income, middle outlook on life. Bizarrely, this makes it unique amongst festival shows. Most play around with the fringes of society. Father, Father is a welcome addition because it keeps the festival a chocolate box of varied delights.

The media focuses people on the intense and the extreme, turning people into drama junkies. Marshall focuses on savouring the everyday—a focus of sanity and even fulfilment. This doesn’t make it devoid of ups and downs. Marshall speaks poignantly about the death of his father and the birth of his son. You just have a better sense of the continuousness of life. We laugh, we cry, we learn, we move on.

Marshall is at his best when he illustrates his points with vignettes. His characterisations are lively and full of warmth and energy. I would love to see him explore this sort of comedy more. I was particularly charmed by his portrayal of a shopping expedition with his son.

Small children don’t understand our cultural codes to do with gender or status, and just like what they like. A girl could want a football helmet as a hat, a boy could want his toy car in pink without a second thought as to any implications. It’s an honest way of being. Marshall’s moment of letting go of social rigidity and learning from his son is both touching and a belly laugh.

A point I would make with Marshall, because I’ve seen several comedians in need of this same advice, is pull in your chin.

I call it “computer chin” because people often jut their chin out when they are sitting in front of a computer, then wonder later why they have a headache. Pull in your chin and tip your head so that it is perpendicular to your eyeline. That way people see your facial expressions better and you come off as more personable. Muppeteers are taught the same thing with their puppets for the same reason.

Left: strained neck, features not visible to audience. Center: optimal. Right: optimal for audience when they are seated below your natural eyeline.

Marshall is an amiable storyteller. If he tours Father, Father, buy a ticket, buy a glass of wine, sit back and enjoy the journey.

Peace and kindness,



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