Stubborn monkey Disorder – Bob Franklin & Steven Gates

It’s a dark night in an abandoned location after a failed comedy festival show, and Steven Gates is searching for his mate Bob Franklin, concerned about his disappearance. Post-modern? Yup, in just the way I love it. Theatrical? Yup, but not in a wanky way. Just enough to give the story structure and highlight the laughs. Audience interaction? Not exactly. Someone had to stand and be spoken of.  Insane? Yeah, but only as much as a travelling pillow salesman can be.

And macabre. I’ve been wanting to find a place to include that word from the start of this review. Macabre. Dark and funny and absurd and fabulous. And macabre. Go see it.

Click the image above for show and ticket info

Comedy Mojo

For ages, I lost my comedy mojo. I would go to shows and laugh. But I think it has been years since I went out of my way to see much. Usually, I would just tag along with mates who got the tickets and I’d have a chuckle. I can’t tell you what has changed, but something seems to have. I’ve got my comedy mojo back.

Like many people of my age, the Big Gig started up my love for comedy. Even stuff which wasn’t all that funny, I loved it. I was totally obsessed with DAAS and from that has arisen a long-standing friendship with my buddy, Prue. Then there was the D-Gen and the Late Show. Fabulous. There was the Cheeseshop and New Joke City and the Star and Garter. I think in 1994 not more than a fortnight would go by without us getting to something.

Then I worked for a Comedy Venue and started to get jaded. Hearing the same act for a whole Christmas season nearly broke me – even now, I find myself quoting Wil Anderson, Christine Basil and bless him, Dave Grant.

Then, there was the festival club. At the time, I had my festival pass and could get in for free. I seemed to not mind giving most of my wages to the Hifi and lived close enough to get a taxi home. I saw a lot of the comedy and started to question why. Stand-up lost its appeal. There just seemed to be little that I liked about someone standing in front of a microphone trying to make me laugh. The Boosh were in town and I’ve always loved the surreal and the absurd, so I still got a giggle from them. And then it went quiet.

Not totally quiet, of course. There were a lot of things I saw and I loved, but I always felt a bit uninspired. I stopped working in hospitality, I moved out of Melbourne, I moved back to Melbourne but much further out and I’d find that at the end of the Comedy Festival, I had seen very little. It never bothered me. I just wasn’t into it so much anymore. I guess I saw more plays and stuff. I still love the live element.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, I’m back. I’ve been to a heap of stuff already, including trials, previews and I’m really, really enjoying it. I’m even booking tickets in advance. What I want to do is share what I’ve seen in reviews, chuck ‘em up here and try to inspire others to get out and see stuff. But, as you know from the lack of posts here lately, I’ve been finding it really hard to take the time to write. I’m working on it, and I hope you’ll see a lot more from me here soon. So, in the meantime, I’ll post them as I get to it, but here are the shows I’ve seen and really and truly urge you to get out and see them – almost all of them run through to Sunday April 22, apart from Daniel Kitson which is over, Million Dollar Tegan which as has one last show Sat 21, and both Justin Hamilton and WATSON – Shakespeare Fight Club finish on Sat 21.

The Last Gig in Melbourne – Geraldine Quinn

Hey, what are you doing Friday night? Or next Friday? Or the one after? No plans? Good, then get your backside to Trades Hall (although enter through the door on Lygon St because otherwise things get confusing and your friends laugh at you in a most affable manner)

Geraldine Quinn’s voice kicks arse. I remember years ago hearing Jimeoin say that all comedians secretly want to be rock stars.I don’t know if that is true, but Geraldine Quinn could actually make that dream come true, with her magnificent voice and kick-arse attitude.

Working with an awesome band, featuring the Cheshire Cat smile of Casey Bennetto sneaking out from behind a speaker, Geraldine has a series of songs that capture the live scene Melbourne in so many different ways. My one little complaint (which I am hoping to hide mid-review here because I really enjoyed the night despite it) was that it wasn’t all that… funny. There were two songs which made me laugh, but the rest I simply enjoyed with a smile on my face and  a sense of familiar (at times disappointed in myself) recognition. I’d name the songs, but I don’t want to give away any of the punchlines – plus I have a terrible reputation for misquoting.

If you’re up for a rocking night of entertainment in a delightful venue, get yourself down to the marvellous Bella Union bar and catch The Last Gig in Melbourne – don’t miss it. It may be the last. (Well…)

Snagged – the Holmesglen One Act Play competition

I’ve been hit by either a monstrous bout of hay fever or I’m coming down with a cold, so I feel rotten. I’ll keep this short and stick to the positives, although I will say that the tour group who hung around outside my car for far too long before the show were just damned creepy.

There are four plays in Snagged (plus a BBQ at interview – get into some of that action!) three of which were written by current students at Chadstone Holmesglen. Two are classmates of mine. Also, I should point out, my play didn’t get in. Not bitter. Much.

It can be quite intimidating putting your work out there for people to see and judge, and more so in the case of writers who have handed their scripts over and no longer have control. Add to this working with non-professional actors and crew and it can be difficult. As anyone who has written a text message or email that has been misinterpreted can understand, words can have different meanings depending on the interpretation.

Added to this is the fact that last night was the dress rehearsal and so the actors and crew were just getting used to an audience and the space. Overall, it went really well.

The night started with The Indian Myna by Stephen Nichols, a play which looks at casual and not-so-casual racism in Australian society, along with family issues. That description doesn’t do it justice – it is a witty play with delightful humour that came out well in the performance. The interaction between the mother and her Indian border was particularly delightful and will settle into a natural and comfortable place as the season continues.

Second was It’s Playtime by Jessica McQueenie, about the conflicted relationship has with a childhood toy. James Le Gassick (disclaimer – he’s a friend) did a great job at carrying the show, as it is, for a large part, a monologue. However, when Jo-Anne Armstrong came in as the other characters she almost stole the show. I don’t think her first character even has a coherent line, but was extremely humourous. And that bear has scary eyes. Don’t look it in the face.

Burnt by Cathy Broaders started the second act, with a naturalistic and very humourous take on the Aussie BBQ and mateship. The strong dialogue and humour carries this piece, along with good use of pacing. It was a quiet audience until this one started. It’s hilarious, I tell ya.

Finally, the evening ended with Just LIke Dad by Caroline Rowan. This followed several characters as they went in and out of relationships, and my main criticism is that it was too short. It really felt like a full-length play, and that the characters seemed rushed into and out of situations. It was very well acted by all three cast members, although the stand out for me, probably for the whole night, was Hannah Bolt with her doe-eyed crush.

If you are interested in seeing some work by some of the new writing talent in Melbourne, get along and check out Snagged. It is playing at St Martin’s Theatre in Sth Yarra at 7:30pm Wed – Sat until Oct 30th. Tickets only $18/$15.