2012 Melbourne International Comedy Festival:
• Clare Hampson and Nathan Murfey in Cleaver & Clag

Posted on 07 April 2012

I am so happy sketch comedy is seeing a resurgence at the comedy festival. Writing and performing live sketch is one of the best ways for developing television comedy skills. And we need a return of more sketch comedy on our screens.

Cleaver & Clag is a sharp polished production. Clare Hampson and Nathan Murfey clearly bring considerable skills to their sketch comedy. The writing is innovative and clever. The production values are amongst the most professional I’ve seen this year. Their multimedia elements are as expert as anything used for music videos.

The connecting thread amongst their sketches is that each one uses half of the dialogue from the previous sketch, but within a different context. This provides big laughs as people recognise the parallels and contrasts found in each situation. Instead of a single word being used as a pun, life is portrayed as a pun. What a doctor says about a patient’s colon in one situation becomes a sharp criticism by an editor to a writer in another.

Clare Hampson is clearly a superior writer/director. One of the most difficult things a person can do is add one more slash to that and be a writer/director/actor. Ask me, I’ve done it. Not only is it hard to get perspective on yourself, your mind is too widely focused on the production and not on your performance to always do your best.

Cleaver & Clag could have used an outside director to help ground the performances and keep the performers from pushing too hard for the laughs. The material is good…relax!

Hampson and Murfey are talented comedians. I want to see them doing more. Real wit is a rare thing, and they’ve got it in spades.

Peace and kindness,



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