29 April 2014

The 24-Hour Experience, part 3

24-Hour Experience
29–30 March 2014

Hour #10 Australian Gothic 9 pm

Photo by Ali Alexander

Ok, so we're sitting in the old exercise yard at the Watchhouse of the Old Melbourne Goal. This was where many like those-now-mostly-known-from-Underbelly-etc beat the shit out of each other and it hasn't changed since it was closed in the 1990s.

But we were sitting on our portable seats, eating excellent choc top ice creams and watching a film about convicts in Tasmania.

We then went for a wander through the Old Melbourne Gaol cells. This place was closed much earlier (1929), but it's still a place where people were hanged and it's gently creepy wandering about night and looking at it as art.

Hour #11 Tales from the Laneways 10 pm

Photo by Ali Alexander
This was an unexpected continuation of the stories that started in the Elizabeth Street toilets. It was also a non-photo performance; after all, we don't take photos in the theatre.

I thought I knew all of the tiny laneways in the city; I didn't. And, even the most friendly daytime shopping lanes feel very different in the dark.

Here were stories that we don't always want to see. Stories about people from behind dumpsters, in corners that never see a street cleaner and in front of passers by in the middle of the street, but are still ignored or turned away from. Raw and real enough to confuse passers by, the triumph of this work was that it found compassion and hope in the lives of people who don't have much hope.

Although, my favourite moment was a couple coming out of a club and having no idea what they were looking at. I wanted to call out, "Don't worry, it's just middle class white people watching actors pretending to be druggies and calling it art." God, I love this city.

Hour #12 A Band On Every Corner 11 pm

On the approach to this hour, those in for the long haul were considering breaks, coffee and time out. 

But a group of us were caught in front of St Paul's cathedral where exhaustion led to dancing. Except me, I became bag bitch because I was far too tired to dance. 

There were four bands, but I have no idea if two of them were seen by anyone on the Experience. No matter, as they would have been seen by passers by, which is terrific, but proved that Experience performances needed to be focussed.

Hour #13 The Midnight Hour 12 am

Sadly, midnight was the most disappointing hour. What should have been a celebration of halfway, a farewell to the first 12-hourers and a welcome to the next 12-hourers was a bit blah. 

Getting popcorn from a giant piece of popcorn was neat, but the films being shown on the Fed Square screen didn't fit the mood of exhausted excitement and anticipation of the dark hours that were to come. And the group split up, so we couldn't say goodbyes and pop the party poppers we'd been saving since getting our Experience packs some 12 hours earlier.

Photo by Ali Alexander
But we could now start the count down until the morgue visit and the chocolate supplies bought earlier came into their own.

The 24-Hour Experience, part 2

24-Hour Experience
29–30 March 2014

It turns out that I didn't need to go home after a mere five hours, I just needed some alone time and a pandan bun.

Hour #7 Bathing Beauties 6 pm

This is the show that brought me into the experience of the Experience.

The pool at the gorgeous Melbourne City Baths is old enough to still be measured in feet. We sat wearing headphones in the gallery above the pool and listened to stories about women who swim – the pressure, body shape issues, pain, joy, competition and freedom – while watching women who fit their own images swim: synchronised, racing and pleasure. Place, theme and story merged beautifully and it felt like the stories belonged to the space.

Hour #8 The Catalyst Club 7 pm

Photo by Ali Alexander

The Catalyst Club was formed in 1910 by 19 women who were Melbourne University alumni. They called themselves the Cats and the secret club still meets today. This meeting was performed at the Victoria Room at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre (so close and yet a world away from QV) and men were allowed to attend.

There were place cards with information about past members, like writer Joan Lindsay, and the performance was a meeting with a paper, a meal and a discussion.

The food was excellent, it had to fuel us for a few hours, and we got to wear cat ears!

Hour #9 Behind the Public Eye 8 pm

photo by Ali Alexander
It's amazing how energy and enthusiasm change when it gets dark, or after some wine and profiteroles.

This work took us into the underground toilets on Elizabeth Street. I've living Melbourne for over 11 years and I've never even noticed them,

Here we saw stories of people who use these toilets, from the desperate to the angelic, and the stories continued above ground.

This was another work that connected space to story emotionally. It was also the beginning of the works (and us) interacting with the public.

Coming up: The Old Melbourne Gaol, laneways and dancing in front of the cathedral.

26 April 2014

The 24-Hour Experience, part 1

24-Hour Experience
29–30 March 2014

It's been more than 24 days since the 24-Hour Experience, the final event of the Festival of Live Art.

My only excuse is that it was in the middle of six weeks of festivals and my tweets tell me exactly how I felt by the hour.

24 hours. 24 shows. A new one every hour in a new location in and around the city.

Designed to explore and reflect on Melbourne's hidden, secret or ignored spaces, the works ranged from earnest to joyous, personal to voyeristic, and already-forgotten to highlight-of-the-year.

I started at noon with the goal to make it to late in the night or at least until 6 pm at the City Baths.

I finally headed home at 5.30 am. I saw 16 shows.

With people on single-show, 4-hour, 12-hour and 24-hour tickets, there were about 50 people doing each experience, with the core group bonding more by the hour. It was like travelling, in that strangers became friends very quickly. And if we go back next year, it'll be a reunion.

Hour #1 Freewheelin' 12 pm

This involved wheelchairs, taking photos and posting to Instagram with iPods that didn't want to play the game. But we met a lovely dog called Lilly on Princes Bridge and her dad took this pic.

Hour #2 The Performance of Everyday 1 pm

Lunch! And our first headphones for the day. We ate while listening to verbatim conversations overheard in another cafe. I so hope they were verbatim because the one about the 40-something woman having laser-eye sex with the 23-year-old man was too wonderful to not be real.

Hour #3 Is there theatre in justice? 2 pm

We're in the old magistrates court as a the barrister prepares for a case. He asks if we think he's a real lawyer or an actor. At 2 am, I looked up and said, "Why didn't we say, 'You're a barrista'?"

Hour #4 The Library of Indestructible Dreams 3 pm

This was my first wow moment and the first one to let me feel the personal connection. It happened in the busy first floor of The State Library.

Earlier in the week, we'd been sent an email asking us to choose a book from the library. I chose an early edition of Winnie The Pooh from the rare books collection. I never expected it to come out and was happy with a Where is the Green Sheep?. 

Green Sheep was waiting for me, but then I saw a plastic bag with my name on it.

It held a 1946 edition of Winnie the Pooh. It wasn't the 1926 one, but it was old and loved and from a time when books were something precious. When I was a child, the paternal side of my family weren't winners, but they gave me books and for that I will always be grateful. Winnie the Pooh was my favourite and one of the first books that I read by myself.

The experience was to follow directions to a spot in the library where two people would meet and read each other a page from their book.

Hour #5 The Guest List 4 pm

photo by Ali Alexander

Finding undeveloped, original Melbourne buildings in the city is always astonishing. This one was in the Lower School House of the Wesley Uniting Church (between Lonsdale and Little Lonsdale streets, where it would have sat a stones throw from the brothels).

The most wonderful part of this performance, by Aaron Pedersen, was that the audience responded when he started talking about the wedding he was attending. He didn't expect the response, but it seemed like it had been written to be exactly like that.

Hour #6 Queerum 5 pm

photo by Ali Alexander

I hit the wall early.  At 5 pm I wanted to go home and had had enough of bloody art and bloody artists. So I didn't go to the installation in a house in Carlton. Instead, I had coffee and a large pandan bun, and headed to Aldi for late-night chocolaty supplies.

Coming up: Bathing Beauties at the City Baths, a cat and quiz dinner, and going into the underground men's toilets.

24 April 2014

Review: Petrasexual

Petra Elliott
18 April 2014
Ka Do
last night 25 April
Facebook event page

There's only one chance left to see Petra Elliott's solo cabaret show at the super-cute Ka Do warehouse in Richmond.

By calling her show Petrasexual, it'd be disappointing if it weren't about discovering, redefining and accepting her own sexuality. Which it is, but it's also much more.

Once from Canberra, Petra's best known in Melbourne for the Splendid Chap's podcast and the many regulars at the Chap's live recordings know that she's as splendid as the best of them; her singing "I"m going to spend my Christmas with a Dalek" being a holiday highlight for everyone who saw or heard it.

Starting with her own experiences, this show's a reflection on how and why sex and sexuality are the source of some our greatest achievements and joys, and of our greatest disappointments, fears and shame. 

With memorable original material and that's-how-you-do-it covers, it's about Petra finding how her personal stories fit in with everyone else's – and how hard it is to slide off a piano when you're wearing a girdle. There's frustration and anger – seriously, when do we have to stop singing about victim blaming, no meaning no, and equal love – but it's sing-along joy comes from the surge of comfort and confidence as she realised that there's nothing wrong with how Petra is sexual. 

It's ultimately a celebration of being yourself and learning to reject the negativity and guilt about sex. And a reminder to kick ourselves if we find ourselves judging or blaming others for being themselves.

It's also a celebration of being yourself as a performer and not trying to fit into what's expected or what's been done before. Throw in an onstage rapport with pianist Adam Rudegeair and bass player Oscar Neyland that's so genuine that it feels like they're not performing and it's a night that's so worth discovering Ka Do for.

Ka Do is tucked away in Cremorne Street in Richmond. It's an easy walk from Richmond station and there's a car park near by. With a 1970s meets hipster decor, it's a gallery space, bar and performance venue that's welcoming and establishing itself as a new home for independent cabaret.

MICF: Eric, Sammy J & Randy, and Ben

the last days

Vicious Fish & La Mama

Difficult First Album Tour
Sammy J and Randy
Laughing Stock

Ben McKenzie is Uncool 
Shaloin Punk

Was it only 26 days?

Eric's back!

Last seen in 2009, Eric's a one-person sketch show. He's not a character but a blank page everyman – a white, 40-something, straight, suit-wearing, aging-well everyguy – who performs 27 sketches about such men.

Eric is Scott Gooding who's directed by Scott Brennan, and The Return of Eric is written by Emilie Collyer, Dave Hoskin, Karin Muiznieks, Morgan Rose, Neil Triffet and Nic Vellissaris.

From stopping a PM from jumping to adopting a manchild to heading down the Nepean* to escape hipstergeddon, Gooding changes character on a pin head and gives every Eric the chance to show their heart or fall on their arse. And with so many sketches in less than an hour, Brennan doesn't allow for a second of wasted time and ensures that there are moments to reflect before landing the next joke and meeting a new Eric.

As a form, Eric stands alone. Without the personal reflection of stand up or the safe distance of detailed character, The Return of Eric is able to bite all the hands that feed and to snap at the many worlds where middle aged guys think they are in control.

* As someone who had to head down the Nepean (to escape dick landlords rather than the hipsters), I think Brighton is still doing a good job of stopping the approach to Zone 2.

Sammy J and Randy are launching their Difficult First Album album. You can buy it at their show, Difficult First Album Tour.

With favourite songs and moments from past shows, it's a night for fans to celebrate everything we love about the housemates from Ricketts Lane. If you, somehow, have yet to fall in love with the genius of the bald purple fuzzy guy and his tall skinny friend, this is a chance to catch up on their story but a best of show is never as wonderful as a complete story.

Ben McKenzie is Uncool is about passion, never being afraid to love what you love, and the difference between a nerd and a hipster.

It also has one more night in Brunswick Street's Provincial Hotel. The nerds will tell you to bring your friends and will soon be wearing "I'm as uncool as Ben McKenzie" t-shirts; the hipsters will tell you that the show was only really good back in week 2.

Uncool is Ben sharing his stories about being a nerd. He's so nerdy that there's a card game to choose which stories he tells. With unfinished degrees, <joke> HTML </joke> and a love of Stegosauruses, the Harry Potter books and Doctor Who, I glowed with the warmth of knowing I'm uncool, but Ben proves that I don't deserve to call myself a nerd.

Ben's knowledge and obsessive fandom puts me to shame. He makes me want to read more and stop playing Candy Crush, because it really is a crap game that requires no skill.

Without a hint of cynicism, Uncool is about redefining our definitions of cool and about loving what we love with the kind of passion that would make Fonzie want to be a nerd.

This was on aussietheatre.com.au

19 April 2014

MICF: Luis & Luelin, Dave, and Dr Prof Neal

12 April 2014
Tuxedo Cat

By Myself
Lessons with Luis
to 20 April

Zoe Coombs Marr
to 20 April

Dr Professor Neal Portenza Performs his Own Autopsy Live on Stage. One Night Only. (Obviously).
to 20 April

One night, one venue, one room. So much easier than trying to Tetris in shows all over town. And every show being shriekingly brilliant didn't hurt; I don't apologise for my over use of "genius".

The Tuxedo Cat in the city has established itself as the venue that welcomes artists who want to experiment far away from the dullness of stand up. Here is where you'll see the work that no one else dares to try; work where artists trust that being their authentic self or finding that character who has been screaming to live is the only way to reach the hearts of your audience.

Luis loves cats. I love Luis. It's that simple.

Inspired by Jerry Seinfield, in By Myself  Luis tries his hand at more funny jokes and stand up. Little brother Luelin is crew and they do an early show so that they can get home on the train.

Being so experienced, Luis knows to mix up the observational humour up with music and story. There are songs from his favourite cassette tape and a story about a dinosaur and a caterpillar (acted out by a plastic dinosaur and a caterpillar puppet that you'd never believe was once a sock), Luis dresses up in a brown-velvet striped fire cat costume he made himself (craft IS art), and we learn a bit more about Luis and Luelin's mum (who isn't with them anymore).

If the success of character comedy lies in believing the characters, then I suspect that my want to make the boys a tray of lasagne and sew up the holes in their jumpers means that it's working. And I'm still a bit sad that I don't have one of Luis's cat badges.

To find the line where it's ok to laugh ourselves sick as a struggling boy cries because his brother doesn't care is as close to genius as it gets. The Lessons with Luis comedy is lame, but to enable us to laugh with and support it's lameness is as sophisticated as serving a Vienetta on a silver platter for dessert.

Next was Dave. He's unshaven, crude and makes pussy jokes that might confuse Luis and Luelin. I'm worried that he'll scare the boys during their show crossover.

Hoping for Footy Show scouts and Wil Anderson to be in the audience of hipsters (can't call them faggots anymore), Dave is used to six-minute spurts at comedy holes and filling an hour isn't as easy as he thought.

Dave is all the-fellas-know-what-I-mean and everything else that makes drunken pub stand up and a few festival shows something to be avoided.

He's also Zoe Coombs Marr, who's best known for her work with Post (feminist performance artists from Sydney). If Dave ever saw a Post show, he'd... I have no idea what he would do because it's beyond his understanding of the world.  This is the guy who's be pretty sure that Amelie is a lesso film because a girl he tried to chat up said it was her favourite.

The genius of Dave is that it's far more than parody. It's easy to make fun of men like this (and there are men like this) but the genius of this work is his winning of the audience's love. Like Luis, Dave finds that line where there's nothing we want more for Dave than for Wil Anderson to see his show, buy him a beer and invite him to support him on the next Wil he or Wil he not? tour.

Next, the room belongs to Dr Professor Neal Portenza and he Performs his Own Autopsy Live on Stage. One Night Only. (Obviously).

The Doc Prof says he's an actor called Josh Ladgrove, but Josh can't get in the way of the Dr Professor's insane magnificence.

Dr Professor Neal likes ultra blue eyeshadow and a red lipstick to match his beret. His rhythmic gymnastics is exquisite (he uses the ribbon), his portraiture worthy of a discussion by Hannah Gadsby and his maths proves that he's a 5-star show. ("5 blinding stars", A-M, SometimesMelbourne".)

The audience play a huge part in the Dr Professor's partly-improvised autopsy and even if you're not chosen as a beautiful princess, there are plenty of opportunities to join in – and even the most hesitant will be clamouring for one of Gary's pool noodles. I can't tell you who Gary is.

This is clowning so original that it'll re-ignite any lost passions for the madcap.

While booking for the wonderful Doc Prof, add a ticket for the truly Divine Come Heckle Christ on 20 April (if there are any left). And yes, it is on Easter Sunday! Jesus is also an actor called Josh Ladgrove. Adelaide got its knickers in a knot without bothering to see the show. I saw it in Melbourne. It's more ask Jesus questions than heckling him and the one person who never looks like a dick is Jesus.

This was on AussieTheatre.com. 

18 April 2014

MICF: Colin Hay

Waiting for my real life ...
Colin Hay
10 April 2014
Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne
to 12 April

I was 13 when I saw Men at Work at the Thebarton Theatre in Adelaide. It was one of my first big concerts at that time when vinyl was all we knew and an illegal download was sitting in front of Countdown, pressing play on your portable tape recorder and shhing anyone who dared make a sound..

Colin Hay was the lead singer and he and his band wrote "Down Under": the Aussiest of all Aussie anthems; a song that made Vegemite even more famous and that later made Larrikin Music look like knobs.

Waiting for my real life ... is an evening with Hay, his guitars and his stories. It's the stories that let him slip in to the comedy festival program.

With coming to Australia from Scotland in the 1960s, having ridiculous fame in his early 30s, moving to LA, a gig at the Espy with 150 people, the Olympics gig, that court case and ongoing ridiculous fame in Brazil, there's little that isn't fascinating. He lets us glimpse the weirdness of fame – yes we want to hear Ringo stories – and the endless irony of it all being bull.

With only 90-minutes, there's not enough time for his music – he really does talk – but when he does  sing, it's easy to remember that there's so much more to him than an irrationally successful song.

Hay's now in his 60s. For a moment, I felt old in a room of middle age people who were happy to be sitting in a nice theatre to watch someone they loved when they were skinny and able to dance all night. It didn't last. It's true that you don't notice yourself getting older, but the real truth is that we've all aged well or we're still waiting for our real lives to begin.

Tonight's the last chance to see Hay at the Playhouse. If you were/are a fan or just know him as the guy who sang a song in Scrubs, don't hesitate to get a ticket.

This was on AussieTheatre.com.

15 April 2014

MICF: Life Lessons with Michelle and Gemma

Life Lessons with Michelle and Gemma
13 April 2014
ACMI Game Cube
to 20 April

OMG, there's a packet of Pop Rocks in my handbag!

One mouthful. Here I go. I was eight the last time I had them.

Weird and eww!

Just because something is offered (and free), you don't have to put it in your mouth. I should know that because Michelle and Gemma implied this life lesson in Life Lessons with Michelle and Gemma. It was a lesson based on a tin of condensed milk (or maybe one about dating), but the lesson is the same. At least I listened to the one about not snorting them.

Life Lessons is much more enjoyable than eating pop rocks. It's more like a big bag of mixed lollies that includes sherbet and posh-chocolate freckles and lolly teeth. Lolly teeth are ALWAYS funny.

Gemma and Michelle are best friends, even though Michelle likes green and dogs while Gemma likes purple and cats. Having been friends forever, they know each other's faults and have learnt from each other's mistakes and know that the world will be better if they share what they know.

Avoid confrontation and colour coding start us off (being a failure in both, I have to agree), but life isn't so simple and as secrets are told or blurted, the unbreakable friendship is in danger.

With director Karin Muiznieks ensuring structure and keeping an eye on the big picture, the woman are free to play with character and enjoy playing with the audience. There's room to go a bit darker (but that could just be me being a cynical bitch) and to work on the straight/funny tropes and their changing status, but that will come as the show develops. Which I hope it will because I want to see Michelle and Gemma learning more lessons, going on holiday, making a cooking show and continuing to share what they've learnt for years to come.

In the meantime, Life Lessons is fun and gorgeous and explains how platonic spooning will never work and why you should never consider dating a rapper who can't spell.

14 April 2014

MICF: Tim Key

Single White Slut
Tim Key
9 April 2014
Fairfax, Arts Centre Melbourne
to 20 April

Tim Key writes shows about being a slut. I was a Tim Key virgin; shame on me!

He started performing in about 2003, won the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2009, was a MICF Barry nominee in 2103 and has been Alan Partridge's Sidekick Simon since 2010.

Single White Slut opens with a cheap bed on stage and a story about his trying to sleep with women after shows. There's doubt that this scruffy bearded ginger in a faded denim boiler suit can seduce, but by the end of the night, I wanted to join the long line of those happy and willing to indulge in his sluttiness.

He tells stories about failed seductions, owls and near-threesomes on holiday in India with Cobra beer and milk and a soundtrack of the We need to talk about Kevin audiobook, but he's really a poet and reads his Tweet-sized, mostly-crude poems that are stuck to the back of a pack pornagraphic playing cards. And there's a balloon. It's unexpectedly seductive and bloody marvellous.

I wanted to say that breaking my Key cherry was was a bit like seeing Daniel Kitson for the first time – not that he's like Kitson, but in that he's kicked stand up in the balls to create a form that is totally his own, and anyone who tries to copy it will fail miserably – then I found out that he's worked with Kitson. Can someone please bring Tree (written by Kitson, performed by Key and Kitson) to Melbourne.

This was on AussieTheatre.com.

12 April 2014

MICF: Em, Nick and Sarah, Alasdair, and Jesus

Divorce the Musical!
Em Rusciano

Pajama Party
Nick and Sarah

Success Arms
Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall

Come Heckle Christ
6 April 2014

Sunday night at MICF. Trades Hall, Swanston Hotel, the Forum and the Tuxedo Cat. I started with the awesome Em Rusciano, whose Catholic upbringing offered a couple jokes about going to hell, and ended the night heckling Jesus, who will always welcome Em – and me and all the sacriligious – with open arms.

I kind of remember Em Rusciano from Australian Idol and saw her show because I heard good things about her last year. Turns out that she's rather awesome and a performer who's not afraid to share her true – loud, campy and wonderfully scary – self.

But for all her awesomeness, Em hasn't had a good year. And by not good, I mean shit and Divorce the Musical! shares how she got through the shittiest of times, while looking after her daughters, losing her job, packing up the marital home, going to a night club in her mid-30s and dealing with her only band member heading to Canada for love (selfish!).

She did what we all do to cope: swore to get skinny and have lots of sex with gorgeous men (while really eating trays of lasagne and sitting on the couch), made a sequinned bridal outfit guaranteed to attract the most gorgeous of drag queens and party buses on hen's night, and wrote a new show about it. OK, most of us never get past the lasagne.

Divorce the Musical! finds the ideal balance of personal story, stand up and song – she can sure sing – but even the pink sequins can't hide that the content is still close and raw. And it's this vulnerability that gives Em's show the kind of heart that makes it so much more than a series of jokes about losing the love you thought you'd never lose.

And there's Vince. Vince is Em's dad. He's a bloody legend.

But the bitch left me humming "Wrecking Ball" and that's not good in public.

Sarah Jones and Nicholas J Johnson's Pajama Party was only on for a few nights, but hopefully it will be back because it's far too lovely and weird to not be seen by many more lovely and weird people.

Best friends, Nick, a magician, and Sarah, a ventriloquist, have everything they need for a pj party, except guests. But it's not as twee as it sounds. Sure there's an endearing quaintness, but it's quaint from the dark side of the rainbow where the black mangy unicorns have horns dripping with blood and the fairy bread sparkles from the crushed glass.

With a chemistry that makes it seem like they've worked together for ever, the surprises of this show are how many twists Sarah and Nick pull on expected jokes and scenarios. Who knew pass the parcel could be so creepy!

Melbourne comedian Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall gets to perform in the Ladies Room (the nice room where women hang out on the way to the loo) at the Forum. Sure it's small, but even on quiet nights, that has to be neat.

In stand up, there's a hard-to-find line in between showing your self and showing off. Alasdair's Success Arms lost its balance at times, especially as the show is still somewhere between sketch and stand up, but with plenty of good material to work with, he righted himself when he tripped.

He has some genuinely original and very funny material (mostly about his own bumbling stumble into his 30s, adulthood and possible sexual competence), but he needs to work on giving the material a narrative (add joke to story, not story to joke) and to decide if he's going to be a character or himself on stage.

There's only one chance left to Come Heckle Christ this festival. It's on 20 April: the last day of the festival. If his first crowd is anything to go by, you will need to book because Jesus is as popular as ever.

The conceit of this show is simple: Jesus is on his cross and will answer whatever his audience ask.

He rang his mum yesterday morning, Judas is a good kisser, he microwaves his hot cross buns (I KNOW) and he gave me the following words to share:

"Five Stars."

Hey, Jesus told me to say it and as I learnt more in an hour than I did in my 12 years at an Anglican school (including winning the Religious Ed prize in primary school), who am I to argue.

Jesus also says that everyone should see Dr Professor Neal Portenza, who is apparently as genius funny as JC.

This was on AussieTheatre.com.

10 April 2014

MICF: Adrienne, Stella and Zoe

Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else! 
Adrienne Truscott
28 March 2014

Tales from the Crip
Stella Young
2 April 2014

Zoe McDonald
2 April 2014

As I sat down to write about Adrienne, Stella and Zoe, a fellow-writer posted this on Facebook: "A guy at work just said to me, 'Not to be sexist but I don't like female comedians. They're not funny and all tell jokes about their periods.'"

He said it outloud, to another person.

Anyone want his contact details for a comedy festival date? Unless you're a girl and Aunt Flo's in town,  because you'll just be a bitch.

As a silly girl who only laughs at tampon jokes and doesn't understand proper jokes about beer and blow jobs, I saw some female comedians this week and none talked about getting the painters in. They did talk about rape and discrimination and sex and unequal standards. And still managed to make their audiences laugh.

Adrienne Truscott is best known as a Wau Wau sister. Performing at lots of festivals, she's seen a lot of shows and heard a lot of rape jokes. And she's been told why they are funny.

In many shows I've seen, I've remember laughing at two rape jokes (one by Eddie Perfect and one by The Sisters Grimm). The rest haven't been funny.

Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else! is Adreienne's take on rape jokes. It was the most talked about show at the Edinburgh Fringe last year.

With wonderful goatee-adding projections, she names those who have made rape jokes and shares their commentary about why people should think they are funny. Because if you have to explain it, it's the audience's fault for being dim, never your fault for not being funny. They also seem to assume that it's only women who don't get the joke.

Based on the joke she starts with, I wonder which performer has already said that it'd be ironic (meaning funny) if Adrienne were raped during her run? And I don't mean "if"; I have no doubt that someone has said this and that people have laughed. I dare you to say it to her. And to me.

It's one thing for my friends to see Adrienne's show – do, she's wonderful and it's painfully hilarious – but this is the show to see if you've ever made or laughed at a rape joke. It's also the show for  comedians who blame their audience when they don't laugh.

And it's for writer Keith's mate, maybe we should just tell him that he'll see naked snatch?

Next I headed north to the Northcote Town Hall where the tampons must be overflowing from the dressing rooms with the amount of women performing .

There's Stella Young's Tales from the Crip. Stella's the crip.

After years of writing, being on tv and compering, she's finally doing her first stand up show.  (A-M, how dare you be so insensitive; Stella can't stand.) But no one can beat her story of a someone asking her to stand up for a bit during sex.

Stella shares stories about the earnest awkwardness she faces every day from well-meaning strangers and total idiots who see difference as an opportunity to show how much they don't notice difference, or to show how down-with-the crips they are. Here's a rule: if you don't like the idea of a stranger asking you the same question or offering you help when you haven't asked, then don't do it to a stranger. And if you have to read a pamphlet with rules about how to treat people, best that you be quiet.

Stella's show is personal with enough distance for her to keep some secrets and is guaranteed to make everyone shudder and laugh with embarrassing recognition. And I will never have guilt about not giving my spare change to Riding for the Disabled collectors; apparently it's not like The Saddle Club!

Also at Northcote is Zoe McDonald in FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. Zoe's multi-character solo show won the Tour Ready award at the Melbourne Fringe and went to the Adelaide Fringe. FOMO has come back to Melbourne as a different show.

It's still about the fear of hitting 30 and wondering why life isn't perfect, but it's tighter, has new characters and has become much more a show about Zoe and her understanding of why she has the FOMO and is terrified of becoming a cat lady. In the first run, the characters were the most memorable (being bloody hilarious), but this time, you leave remembering Zoe.

I nearly didn't go because I had seen its first season, but never underestimate how long runs can influence a show –  and Twitter let me known that I'm not the only person who has the FOMO about not having a Thermomix or an iPad.

So that's three women who didn't make menstrual cycle jokes. Neither did Bryony Kimmings, Hannah Gadsby, Isabel and Rachel or Kate McLennan. In fact, I haven't heard a period joke all festival.

This was on AussieTheatre.com.

07 April 2014

MICF: The Boy with Tape on His Face

More Tape
The Boy With Tape On His Face
28 March 2014
The Forum, upstairs
to 20 April

I know it's a brave call, but if you can only see one show at the Comedy Festival, make it More Tape from The Boy With Tape on His Face.

It's pure joy; like mainlining a rainbow.

It's the show you go to when you're feeling so down that kittens on the internet can't make you smile.

It's the show you go to on a date when you really like the person and really want the date to last long into the night and maybe forever.

It's the show you take someone to if it's been too long since they laughed.

It's the show you go to if you've seen a couple duds and need to be reminded just how brilliant the Comedy Festival can be.

It's the show you go to and want to be chosen for audience participation.

It's the show you go to because everyone who's seen it has told you to see it.

It's a guy, Sam Wills, with gaffer tape on his mouth so he can't or won't speak. He gets people from the audience and makes a stage full of absolute happy. It's clowning, magic and puppetry with a touch of genius and no description can do it justice.

It's also a brand new show if you saw him at MICF a few years ago.

This was on AussieTheatre.com

MICF: Bryony Kimmings

Sex Idiot
Byrony Kimmings and Theatre Works
27 March 2014
Melb Town Hall, Mini Main
to 5 April

The delightfully wonderful Bryony Kimmings flys out of Melbourne later today. Boo. Come back soon - please.

Meanwhile, Melbourne was delighted by six performances of her wonderful show Sex Idiot.

When she was 29, Bryony had a sexual health check and found out she had a common STI. Her doctor offered to send anonymous letters to everyone she’d been in sexual contact with warning that they should have a sexual health check, but Bryony decided to contact her past lovers herself – and make a show about it.

The Comedy Festival set a ridiculous tone when they took down her promotional video of “The Fanny Song”.  The song lists words used for vagina and includes cunt. Given it’s hard to find a stand up in the festival who doesn’t abuse someone by calling them that, what can you say when they censor the rare time it’s used in a non-abusive and positive context.

But Sex Idiot is a fearless, hilarious and heart-touching look back at her loves, lovers and others. (And a reminder to use condoms and barrier methods to keep you healthy.) Of course, hearts can’t be as easily protected and the most powerful moments are those when she reflects on those that she knows she hurt along the way.

I was thrilled to give her my pubes.

And here's "The Fanny Song"

I also wrote about this on AussieTheatre.com