16 April 2015

MICF 2015 Award Nominations

I know how many brilliant shows I've seen this festival and only one of them is up for an award. Knowing how flipping amazing that one is, I hate myself for missing the rest.
I also have Festival Flu and am too full of green to leave the house; so, please see an extra show for me and Tweet about it. There are four nights left. Go hard.
2015 Melbourne Comedy Festival Barry Award Nominations
Luisa Omielan: What Would Beyonce Do?!
This is the only nominated show I've seen. It's hilarious and harrowing and has been selling out.

Best Newcomer Award Nominations 
Heidi O'Loughlin
Golden Gibbo Nominees (best indie production)
Laura Davis: Ghost Machine
I saw her at the Melbourne Fringe last year and absolutely loved her. Really regretting missing her new show.

Review: Meme Girls

Meme Girls
Malthouse Theatre
9 April 2015
Beckett Theatre
to 2 May

Meme Girls. Art Simone & Ash Flanders. Photo by Pia Johnson

YouTube is only ten years old. Like Facebook and Twitter, it's already hard to imagine life without them. And enough people have now grown up not knowing that opening your life and your secrets to the world isn't strange. Meme Girls at Malthouse Theatre is about searching for identity by confiding to strangers on the internet.

Created by Stephen Nicolazzo, Ash Flanders and Marion Potts, the idea came from Flanders's 2011–12 solo show that was directed by Nicolazzo, Negative Energy Inc. For all it's self-questioning and stories about his mum, Heather, and boyfriend, Daniel, the piece was unexpectedly defined by his performance of the Horse Woman from the tv show Judge Judy.

It was astonishing. Flanders captured the heartbreak of the woman and found the pin-head spot of balance where poignancy and parody meet to create something that transcends both.

This was a drag verbatim performance of a nobody talking to a camera that doesn't care about the death of her horses!

Meme Girls is more of this and then far more.


The full review is on AussieTheatre.com and will be published here in a few days.

15 April 2015

MICF: Joel Creasy

The Hurricane
Joel Creasey
5 April 2015
to 19 April

Joel Creseay

Each year I try and see one of the big-venue, they're-on-the-telly shows. I liked Joel Creasey on I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here (go ahead, judge me – I loved it) and was curious to see how he’d turn his burst of popular fame and the fiction of reality television into a festival show.

Hurricane is just a name to justify the festival-standard snore about having to name his show before he wrote it. And the room laughed at the joke and at the snarky twink character telling it.

Telly fame lets you play to 300-seat rooms when you're 24; rooms filled with people who wet themselves at the mention of Mad Maureen McCormick. Yes, he talks about being in the jungle and I don’t think there was anyone there who hadn’t seen I’m a Celebrity.

And they went nuts for the a bit about middle-aged ugly male comedians who perform in suburban pubs and make non-PC jokes. Jokes about gay sex (you can get poo on your dick), about gay clubs (Poof Doof, what a funny name) and fatties (no one likes ugly people), with bonus casual misogyny of lesbian jokes (they build the podium the gay boys dance on).

But these are Joel’s jokes.

Sure, comedy is subjective, but – laugh or not – it comes down to "who are we laughing at?" and "what's the common or shared expereince". This audience were laughing at the performer, they weren't laughing with him. The laughs may sound the same, but when you’re sitting among them, they feel horrible and nothing like the supportive of tribal recognition. And the shared experience between him and his audience? Laughing at gays, lesbians, nutters and fatties.

This was also discussed on AussieTheatre.com.

13 April 2015

MICF: Justin Hamilton 2015

Justin Hamilton
1 April 2015
Melbourne Town Hall, Lunch Room
to 19 April

Justin Hamilton

I try to never miss Justin Hamilton. Mixing stand-up with scripted storytelling, he’s written and performed some of the most memorable and publish-them-because-they-are-so-well-written Comedy Festival shows I’ve seen.

He’s been performing comedy since the 1990s and, according to justinhamilton.com.au, did 188 gigs last year and, on 9 April, was up to 90 this year. 90! There had only been 99 days of this year on 9 April. He'd have done more if he wasn't dealing with a festival flu that makes me want to make him a mug of Sleepy Time tea with raw honey and share the pile of cold and flu tablets I'm scoffing to make it to the end of the festival. And I take nights off!

On his days off, he records the very popular podcast Can you take this photo please?

If you want to learn about writing comedy, listen to this. As Dan Savage is to sex, Justin Hamilton is to comedy.

After last year’s extraordinary Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994 (you can listen to three versions of it – with discussion – on the podcast) about going to Afghanistan to entertain the Australian troops, this year’s Snacks is less harrowing and more comforting.

It’s more traditional stand-up as he meets his audience at the door, talks to them from the small stage – in a makeshift room that’s nearer the executive car park than the spectacular Town Hall – and happily goes off on tangents, which still come back to theme and to snacks and chocolate.

Being part of the Snacks audience is like being with a room of friends as the common experiences about over thinking, being happy about growing older, being excited about being nerd, and never saying no to snacks ripple through the room.

This was also discussed on AussieTheatre.com.

MICF: Innes Lloyd

Men of Your Dreams
Innes Lloyd
5 April 2015
The Grand Mecure Hotel, Downstairs Lounge
to 5 April

David Innes & Rob Lloyd

Innes Lloyd was the third producer of the Doctor Who in the 1960s. Google told me that as I was looking for the comedy festival page for this these two. No wonder David Innes and Rob Lloyd had to start working together.

But this show isn't about Doctor Who.

Men of Your Dreams is about dreams.

Those dreams we can't control.

These brothers have different sleep problems, which may be connected to when they lost their other brother when he was a young. They discuss sleep theory, list common dreams (I often get the dead people ones – and dead pets), and look at sleep in films like The Matrix and Nightmare on Elm Street, but the highlight is their re-enactment of audience member's night mares. And with subconsciouses giving us dinosaurs, a murdering father and exploding cars, it's cheaper than therapy and lots more fun.

While they were trying to squeeze too much into an hour, I really hope Men of Your Dreams comes back because there are endless dreams that need interpreting and endless people who want to know more about the bliss and horror of sleep.

I saw this on it's last night, but you can still see Rob Lloyd Vs The Monsters.

12 April 2015

MICF: The 3 Mikados

The 3 Mikados
11 April 2015
The Famous Spiegletent at Arts Centre Melbourne
to 19 April

Colin Lane & David Collins, The 3 Mikados

Gilbert and Sullivan: words that evoke love, fear or a confusing mix of both. Late nineteenth century operetta may be fun to perform (I went with two friends who were also in our school production in the 80s – with shameful slanty-eye makeup), but it can be taken far too seriously. But then, how many other late nineteenth century writing teams are still popular today?

The 3 Mikados knows why G&S are still loved and popular. Great parody can only be made if you love and understand your target, and director Russell Fletcher (Spontaneous Broadway and lots more) knows The Mikado inside out.

Colin Lane (Lano and Woodley, Ready Steady Cook), David Collins (The Umbilical Brothers) and Ester Hannaford (King Kong, Hairspray, Four Larks) are the only performers and promise that they can play all the parts. They do.

From improvised banter about how atrocious their performances are to other-genre versions of songs to slipping into performances that re-define how good G&S can be (go for Hannaford singing Katisha's solo), it takes a stale form and makes it fresh, surprising and hilarious.

You'll get more jokes if you know the work (if you love, or ever loved, G&S, missing it isn't an option) but there's enough to make it stand alone – and you will want to see a full production once you've had a taste.

A little list of stars.

This was on AussieTheatre.com.

MICF: Beau Heartbreaker

Beau Heartbreaker
Selina Jenkins
10 April 2015
Melbourne Town Hall, Backstage Room
to 19 April

Selina Jenkins as Beau Heartbreaker

Lots of new crushes this festival and guitar-playing, yarn-spinning Beau Heartbreaker is the newest.

I'd never say that a country farmer boy is my type, but Beau is just so gosh darn lovely that it's impossible not to adore him.

Under the impressive beard (he's confused that he can now walk down Brunswick Street and not feel out of place with his beard and a flannie shirt) is Selina Jenkins. Whereby drag can be used to humiliate the opposite sex, she uses the gender inversion with absolute love and lets Beau tell a greater truth that relates to everyone. And it lets him add an impressive and unexpected soprano to his songs.

Beau tells us about life on a dairy farm and his trip riding horses through Mongolia. It's on this trip that he realises that he has to tell his parents, who love him dearly, something so important, and unchangeable, about himself that he's scared that they might not love him any more.

Beau Heartbreaker's humour is gentle and subtle with a twist that grabs your heart as much as makes you snort with laughter.

As many stars as seen from the middle of his dairy farm on a clear night.

MICF: The Narelles

The Narelles
Token Events, Triple R
3 April 2015
Trades Hall, New Ballroom
to 19 April

Alan Brough & Casey Benetto

Alan Brough wasn't living in Australia in 1988, but he still formed a Melbourne garage band with Casey Benetto. The Narelles celebrate their 27th fictional year at Trades Hall in The Narelles.

If you went to any gig in the late 80s and the 90s, then the reunion gigs from the early 2000s, you've been to a Narelles gig.

Both on lead vocals, bass and guitar (with a stage shy drummer), they reminisce about the gigs, the albums and the times that their audience remember vividly, even if we weren't there.

It opens with a bass riff that made me think I was 17 (make that 18) at the Tivoli in Adelaide (where the carpet was always sticky and the glasses of moselle always over full) to a Nick Cave tribute song that was more paranoid than being at the Big Day Out with too many cookies (where Nick sang "The Weeping Song" and Iggy Pop got his cock out), The Narelles capture the tone and heart of live indie/alternative/not-shit-pop music between 1987 and now.

And they do it far better than any JJJ Top 100 count down.

All the stars in their eyes that never faded.

09 April 2015

MICF: Jonestown

Guinea Pigs
1 April 2015
Portland Hotel
to 19 April

Jonestown: Sarah Jones & Nicholas J Johnson

Sarah Jones and Nicholas J Johnson are Jonestown (it's funny every time). In Guinea Pigs, they are trapped in a lo-tech, hi-laugh sci-fi experiment that tests their friendship and takes the double act not quite to the final frontier but surely where no one has been before.

Their debut show, Pajama Party, was nominated for the 2014 Golden Gibbo (best MICF indie production) and they were helped with a Moosehead Award (a grant for "mental and overly ambitious" comedy) to make this show.

Captured by a mystery nutter/genius, Sarah and Nick have known each since from high school and, with the help of the audience, re-visit their school and university days to figure out how they found themselves in an unescapable box in an unescapable box of a theatre in the Portland Hotel.

The straight–stooge (Nick–Sarah) double act is comedy where every laugh relies on the other person to make it work. Adding story, mystery and shadow puppetry (yes!) to sketch and stand-up, the chemistry between these two is as cool as a bicarb and vinegar volcano, and as illogically exciting as opening a bottle of fizz that might have been rolling around the floor of a car.

Because I said it on Twitter, so it must be true: A heap of stars.

05 April 2015

MICF: Trygve Wakenshaw

Trygve Wakenshaw
29 March 2015
The Tuxedo Cat
to 19 April

Trygve Wakenshaw

Trygve Wakenshaw is another performer whom I've heard nothing but great about, and I wasn't going to miss him this year.

He's from New Zealand and now lives in London. He was nominated for a Barry and a Golden Gibbo Award at last year's Comedy Festival and has brought us a new show called Nautilus.

It's still a work in progress (maybe), so changes to suit each audience. When I went, it was a bit too long and needed a tighten, but this didn't make it any less impossible to stop watching. It made me really want to see his other shows and anything else he does.

Wakenshaw's a physical comedian. Ok, he's a mime. And if the M word leaves you with show-trauma memories that you don't want to re-live, he'll banish them and leave you wanting an I HEART MIME sticker.

Dressed in pink, ribbed, high-waist leggings and a green jumper with added white tassells, he opens the show sinking into a black plastic bin; the line between genius and WTAF is slim.

There isn't a narrative, but there are stories about fish and sea critters, one about the massive logic gap in Rapunzel, and some that leave the audiences looking away from the grossness that isn't there. And it's all tied together with a character who becomes more intriguingly irresistible with each voiceless moment.

A long row of star fish: the nice ones, not the ones eating the Great Barrier Reef.

PS:  Trig-vee (thank you his website)

There's a version of this on aussietheatre.com.au.