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I was going to save my money and not see any Comedy Festival shows this year.

11 shows is almost the same as none, right?

This is what I saw:

Dave Bloustein - Grand Guignol
Humourous horror stories from this clever stand-up. Sadly, opening night issues meant we saw the potential, rather than the polished show.

Hannah Gadsby - Nakedy Nudes
A lecture on the nude in Western art, and how it shifted from the heroic male nude to perving on naked females. Fun, if not quite up to the standard of Gadsby's stand-up.

La Foulard
Character-based clowning, about a pretentious artist and her characters who rebelled. Some great physical work, if some bits felt a bit too long.

Daniel Kitson - Work in Progress
A late night show where Kitson worked on some new material. Patchy, as to be expected from a work in progress, but Kitson is almost always great.

Josie Long - Romance and Adventure
I love Josie Long dearly. Her originally whimsical act has grown more political recently as she gets angrier and angrier with Britain's Conservative government. But she hasn't quite found the way to turn that anger into humour yet. Always a pleasure to see her, but also a teeny bit disappointing.

Lawrence Leung - Part-Time Detective Agency
Leung's shows all have the same format, but it's a solid format. Inspired by Sherlock, Leung sets out to solve the mystery of who played a prank on him at his 21st birthday party. Nerdy, self-effacing fun.

Splendid Chaps
A live recording of this podcast about Doctor Who. This episode was about comedy in Doctor Who. Special guests were Adam Richards and Josie Long. Fun. But no one mentioned Dougals Adams, or Terry Nation's start in writing comedy, and Josie Long didn't get to speak enough.

(Of course, I think Josie Long should be the next companion. Or even better: the next Doctor. So I may be biased.)

Lisa-Skye - Songs My Parents Taught Me
Lisa-Skye contrasts the romance between two hedonistic twenty-somethings in 1970's Footscray with her own taste for drugs, kinky sex, and glitter.

Darkness and Light
Different guest comedians each night tell true stories about dark times in their lives. Lots of stories about depression and bullying. Telia Neville talked about the loneliness of the Festival performer. Ben McKenzie talked about his estranged father. Honest, moving, one of my festival highlights.

Dave Callan - A Little Less Conversation
A tall bearded Irishman dancing to Beyoncé. Very silly. Absolutely hilarious.

Hannah Gadsby - Happiness is a Beside Table
Gadsby, one of Australia's best stand-ups, talked about her crippling body image issues, and the simple pleasures of owning her own furniture. Always hilarious, usually the best show I see at the Fest, Gadsby's show this year was inspirational. I've never heard a crowd cheer a neck-to-knee bathing suit so hard.


I think, once again, I'd say Hannah Gadsby's was the best show I saw this year, just based on the mix of depth and humour. She really is incredibly funny.

But I'd also say Darkness and Light was the most interesting show I saw. Partly that's because I thought Ben's story about his father was fantastic: honest and moving and very well told. I've seen Ben do a lot of less serious shows, and it was great to see a really different side to his work.

sharplittleteeth: (Default)
My initial list of 5 Comedy Festival shows has blown out to about 13. I've lost count. Reviews to follow at some stage, long after they might have been useful to anyone. Hannah Gadsby has unexpectedly turned out to be one of my favourites this year. A lot of the other shows I've seen have felt like a solid 45 minutes of material stretched thin to fill an hour show.

A. and I finally managed to see the Bill Henson exhibition at Tolarno Galleries yesterday, on its final day. Very glad we did. Bodies, landscapes, and gallery patrons dissolving into the sublime. His use of light is exquisite: corpse-blue nudes hit with sparks of fire-red.

A. and I have had a project accepted as part of the Emerging Writer's Festival EWFdigital programme. I'll post more details closer to the launch, but the basic ideas is a series of urban fantasy micro-stories inspired by photographs of Melbourne.

We went to a wedding yesterday, for our dear friends Alex and Berni. It was a beautiful ceremony amongst the ferns in the Fitzroy Gardens Conservatory. Afterwards there was the reception at Deck Ten, looking down over the city. And after that, we went to the Festival Club.

Technically I woke up today at about 9:30. But I've spent most of the day staring blankly into the middle distance. I was going to go see some more late shows tonight, but I think I'd rather be a functional human being. An early night and a productive day tomorrow sounds lie a plan.

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This is how it begins - a cold night, the wind violent in the trees.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival has started. A. is once more working evening shifts, and I am a comedy festival bachelor once again.

Normally I would fill these empty evenings by going comedy crazy. I think I saw 23 shows last year. I went through this year's programme and wrote down 14 shows I wanted to see, plus another nine maybes. And then...

... And then I changed my mind.

Money's been a bit tight recently and I just can't afford to blow a few hundred dollars on shows. So I've made a list. Just five shows. That's all. Five shows. I promise.

They are:
  1. Ben Pobjie's Funeral
  2. Claudia O'Doherty - What is Soil Erosion?
  3. Dave Bloustien - A Complete History of Western Philosophy
  4. DeAnne Smith - About Freakin' Time
  5. Lawrence Leung Wants a Jetpack
Plus the three freebies I'm seeing on Saturday, courtesy of Patrick O'Duffy.

Plus Daniel Kitson. We bought tickets for him months ago, so he doesn't count.

But that is all.

I'm planning to use my lonely, empty evenings to finish my book. I wanted to have it done by the end of March, but work has been a shit, I've been sick, and I've been spending a lot of time and energy and money trying to fix the problems with my feet*. So it didn't happen.

Easter, though. I'm finishing this book by Easter. Or I'm taking my laptop out the back and burning it.

*I'm not kidding about the feet thing.

I went to podiatrist about two months ago to try and fix my plantar fasciitis. He's helped a lot, but he told me some of my problems were caused by my skeletal structure and I should go and see an osteopath. So I did. The osteopath has helped a lot, but he said some of my problems were caused by poor core muscle strength, and I should go take Pilates lessons. Which I have.

And it's good. But I have a horrible feeling that this is going to end with someone telling me my problems are caused by late–stage Western capitalism, and I should go join a socialist revolution.
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Last night we went to see Daniel Kitson talk about death.

Specifically, the recent death of his aunt, and the existential numbness that followed. Not exactly hilarious material, so he padded the show out with jokes about cake and wanking.

This was his new stand-up show, We Are Gathered Here at the Athenaeum.

Despite the subject matter, this was the happiest and mellowest I've seen Kitson. There was much less railing against the dickheads of the world. Even the obligatory telling-off of a disruptive audience member (for playing with his mobile phone) was more a gentle chiding than the venomous lacerations he's dealt out in the past.

There's an arc to Ktison's shows: he lures the audience in with light-hearted jokes, takes them down to some darker places (rage, despair, philosophical culpability), and then leads them back to light with a sense of wonder at the tiny beauties and joys of the world. And if I had a criticism of this show, it's that that final upswing doesn't quite work, isn't quite strong enough to exorcise the gloom of knowing everyone you've loved and cared about will die.

Or maybe I was just in a mood.

Because I laughed loudly and I laughed a lot. Kitson is an expert performer, holding his audience rapt for over two hours, and making it all seem effortless. One quantifiable measure of how much you enjoyed an act is whether you go see them again, and I've already booked tickets to his show at the Arts Centre in January - 66a Church Road.

And when we got home, we learnt that NASA had bombed the Moon. Apparently, this might start a war. With aliens.

sharplittleteeth: (Default)
The Festival is over, once again.

It's been a slightly weird festival for me this year. I saw a bunch of shows at the start. Then I lost interest in the middle bit, and had to rouse myself to go and see some more shows before it all finished.

I saw 12 shows this year. All of them were good, but none of them were amazing.

My favourite was Dave Bloustien. He show was solid example of classic stand up - a great story serving as the core, and lots of clever diversions, all delivered by a friendly and likeable comic.

But nothing blew me away this year. Nothing like the first time I saw Daniel Kitson, or Josie Long. Or even Andrew McClelland and his Pirates show. Maybe I saw the wrong shows. maybe it's just been a quiet year.

Or maybe I'm just getting old and grumpy.

List of Shows Seen... )
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Yes. That Lawrence Leung. The one off the ABC.

It feels weird to write that. Lawrence has been doing shows at the Comedy Festival for years. But I overheard several people saying they had just discovered him via Choose Your Own Adventure. Anyway...

Time Ninjas is about McClelland (foppish, sideburns) and Leung (dorky, beard) traveling back through time in Stephen Hawking's wheelchair to meet Jesus, kill Hitler, and stop Lawrence from getting dumped by his high-school girlfriend in 1994.

There's cardboard props, musical numbers, PowerPoint slides and lots of silliness. It's more of a sketch or theatrical piece than their usual lecture-style shows, and it felt a lot more lightweight than their best work* -- mostly it's just them running around the stage being daft. But they do it with charm and infectious humour, so it works.

Lightweight, silly, lots of fun.

* A Somewhat Accurate History of Pirates, Lawrence Leung Learns to Breakdance

sharplittleteeth: (Default)
I have 1 free spare ticket to see Josie Long tomorrow night - 9:45pm at the Town Hall.

First in, best dressed.

sharplittleteeth: (Default)
Last night: saw a free preview of Adam Hills's Comedy Festival show.

He's such a sweetie. Even when he was picking on the audience members, he did it with a friendly twinkle in his eye.

His show was mostly stories - polite Dutch audiences, heavy metal forensic specialists from Wales, and the crudity of the athletes at the Beijing Special Olympics. He finished up with the obligatory uplifting meaningful bit, which felt like Daniel Kitson without the swearing.

His support act was Hannah Gadsby, with her deadpan stories about growing up in small-town Tasmanian, lesbian haircuts, and her eccentric mother. She started out a bit stiff and nervous, but she warmed up as the audience warmed up to her.

Tonight: swimming. 16 continuous laps (400m), then a few short ones, then 8 continuous laps (200m), a few more short laps, and then another 4 continuous laps. Not exactly going to win the Olympics, but that pwns the 200m swim test for my Open Water Certification in a week.

ObBushfires: Registered at Haven't given blood in years, not since the whole chronic fatigue thing.


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February 2019

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