Review: Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2014 (Part 2)

BACK for round two of giggles? In the second instalment of our Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2014 reviews, Daniel Driscoll shares his thoughts on the shows that he managed to catch!

Fiona O’Loughlin – My Brilliant Career

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Image supplied.

In her show, Fiona O’Loughlin brings you five stories from her life, including absently raising her kids, alcoholism and the gaping differences between the comedy festival ride and home life.

She’s cheery as she laughs along with the audience at many parts of her performance, despite how ridiculous some of her situations may sound to her and to the audience.

Warm and funny, O’Loughlin shows how a veteran of the scene puts on a show as she recalls the time she nearly made it big in the US and her almost affair.

That said, as funny as she is, her comedy is best suited to an older audience and anyone 18 – 30 would likely want to give her show a miss. It took me a while to realise I was sitting in an audience where the half the crowd laughing were in their 40s or 50s. There are occasional laughs to be had but the subject matter is mostly not relevant unless you’re in the appropriate age bracket.

Cal Wilson – It Could Have Been Me

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Image supplied.

Cal Wilson takes a look at what her life could have been, if she’d made different decisions, in her show It Could Have Been Me. Playing different versions of herself including a man and a hard core feminist, Wilson brings a believability to each role, crossing the threshold from fantasy to reality.

Whatever acting skills she picked up in her younger days are clearly paying off as she’s really convincing in each role. Her interaction with the audience adds an energetic vibe and goes further with Wilson interacting with certain audience members again and again as she plays each character throughout the show.

Wilson takes you on a sometimes bizarre and hilarious journey of discovery and reflection that anyone who’s ever thought, “it could have been me,” can relate to.

It Could Have Been Me felt like it would have been well worth the price of admission just to see each character take off in their own crazy direction!

Double Up

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Image supplied.

There was a small turn out for the opening night of Double Up, a two-for-one show of Australia’s best-known indigenous comedians.

Sean Choolburra was up first and whether it was first night jitters or he was unprepared, the show got off to a shaky start. With jokes about family and Australian life from the perspective of an Aboriginal Australian, he won a few laughs but more jokes fell flat with Choolburra faltering on his words and awkwardly trying to move to the next one.

Prop gags were used, along with a television to help the audience visualise the occasional quip about his aunty or the Buddhist blessing of his child.

Kevin Kropinyeri took the stage next and his set was filled with stories from his travels around Australia, including his misunderstood encounter with a girl with Tourette’s. Kropinyeri showed why he’s been doing this for years, getting the audience clapping along to music at points in his show and pulling his cousin up on stage for an impromptu interview.

One should hope that this was just a one off bomb for Choolburra and that in the future, this double act would go from dead in the water to deadly.  

Adam Rozenbachs – Breaking Booze

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Image supplied.

Breaking Booze sees Adam Rozenbachs talk about his experience with quitting alcohol for a year.

Given Australia’s drinking culture, Rozenbachs gives us an insightful and hilarious look at what it’s like to step outside the culture for the first time in his adult life.

His observations from a previous drinker’s viewpoint offer something for everyone to enjoy. He talks about a range of stories including the perils of being the sober guy and herding his drunken friends from club to club, the suspicions of drinkers around non-drinkers, and drinking by yourself.

Rozenbach’s show was downright funny, highly enjoyable and felt like one of the must-see shows of this year’s festival.

Squeaky Clean Comedy

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Image supplied.

Proving you don’t need to swear to put on a great comedy show, eight of Australia’s best clean comedy acts brought together a two-hour spectacular for this year’s installment of Squeaky Clean Comedy.

Michael Connell does a standout job as MC, with hilarious tales including the impracticality of French guide books in France. Mike Klimczak helped the audience figure out whether or not they were the creepy guy on the bus, Joel McKerrow gave the crowd a glimpse into his red haired world with some Ginger poetry and ventriloquist Sarah Jones was wonderful with her cat puppet friend and their strained relationship.

The Trash Test Dummies also added some zany brilliance to the show with their choreographed bin dancing and stunts.

The show only got better as the night progressed with Beau Stegmann talking about the time he took a date to Smorgies restaurant in Geelong and Danny McGinlay talked about what it was like to have a Ukrainian wife who always sounded like a Bond villain. Filled with rapturous laughter from start to finish, Squeaky Clean Comedy demonstrated that you needn’t up the language to up the laughs.

Should there be another show like it next year, it certainly gets a high recommendation from me.

Wolf Creek: The Musical

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Image supplied.

Set in the Old Council Chambers at Trades Hall, on a tiny stage, the cast of Wolf Creek: The Musical put on an entertaining display of story and song based on the movie of the same name. The low budget set up works well in the cramped surroundings, with the theme emphasised by the cardboard props and plastic toy weapons.

The show was an hour long self-aware song and dance performance that reveled in taking shots at the film’s plot holes. Despite the fair amount of laughs throughout the show, it did have its limits when most jokes needed to be purposely spelled out.

The gender-swapped mix of most roles such as Demi Lardner as Ben, the typical Australian who left his girlfriend back in Sydney and Chris Knight cross-dressing as Liz, one of two English backpackers added an extra ridiculous element, emphasising the comedic slant on the subject matter.

Kel Balnaves does a wonderful job as the deranged Mick, who loves nothing better than bringing backpackers back to his ‘rape shed’. James McCann moves the plot along with a catchy keyboard soundtrack and ‘exposition radio’, grabbing laughs throughout as the characters are steered towards their doom.

The show was certainly enjoyable to a degree – and probably more so if you’d already seen the movie – the fact that the audience needed to be reminded of what was funny felt overdone, giving the impression that the show mightn’t be worth sitting through.

Did you catch part one of our Melbourne International Comedy Festival reviews? Check them out here.

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