Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Laughing in Australia

My visit to the great city of Melbourne happened to occur at the same time as the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and so as well as experiencing the usual quirks the city has to offer, I also got to see some pretty amazing comedians in their element.

The first show I saw was a spontaneous affair. I was sitting at the hostel chatting with a couple of people I'd just met when we decided we'd go out for a drink. The Canadian girl in our group suggested that we get tickets to a show as well and go check out some of the festival so we looked through the schedule and settled upon the London-based Canadian Catherine Ryan.

We got ourselves some food and a couple of drinks in town before heading up to one of the smaller rooms set up within the town hall complex where Catherine's show was hosted. She was vaguely familiar to me having appeared on some English panel shows I've seen but I'd never seen her do stand-up so I was going in mostly blind.

She was hilarious. From telling us about her room-mate (5 year old daughter) to the most accurate Beyonce impression you'll ever see from a white woman, her show came to an end far too soon. I think it ran for an hour but I would have happily watched her for double that.

The second, third and fourth shows I saw were a bit of a marathon affair. Looking for something to do one day I decided to check out the cheap tickets office where they sell off tickets to shows that day at a cheaper price to try and sell as many as possible to shows that haven't managed to sell out.

Arj Barker who I was familiar with through Flight of the Conchords and his various appearances at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival was one of the shows on sale so I got a ticket to his show. I realised while getting my ticket to that show that with the time it was on, I could probably swing getting to a show before and after his performance. I ended up buying a ticket to James Acaster who I'd seen on tv in New Zealand before and who I rate pretty highly as well as one to see the combined show of Guy Montgomery (NZ comedy's 2nd favourite Guy) and Rose Matafeo in an effort to support the kiwis at the festival.

Arj's show was as expected a flawlessly crafted hour of comedy genius culminating in the most shameless sales effort I've ever seen in a show that I paid to see in the first place. To some extent it worked because I did end up buying one of his dvd's, although mostly so I could get him to sign it and say hi to him, which I did!

I went into the Rose and Guy show without really knowing what to expect and was treated to a very New Zealand experience. An audience member got a phone call in the middle of Guy's half of the show and as he tried to call her out on it, she yelled back that it was from his cousin which was both hilarious and probably true. Rose was on form with her unique brand of awkward comedy featuring cringe-worthy stories from her life with a little bit of observational comedy and her famous attack on the creepy coffee club ads. All in all I underpaid heavily for the show these guys put on (I think it cost me 15 bucks).

James Acaster was someone I REALLY wanted to see at this festival so I was stoked to be attending his show. He is the master of awkward white boy humour and was in the best form I've ever seen him in (having seen him do a lot of stand-up via online videos). From talking about his thug-life days in the SW-4 (I think) street gang to his hatred for Lucas, whom he served on a jury with and eventually gained respect for after a series of harsh realisations, his set was all over the place in the most fantastic of ways. I can't decide who was funnier between James and Catherine but it was close.

I really appreciated the non-headline shows because they were in such wonderfully intimate settings and I feel like that's the best way to experience any performer. I'd take pub performances over crowded stadiums any day. Those sorts of shows make it feel like you're just hanging out over a beer with the performer rather than someone who has paid for the privilege of being in the same vicinity as a superstar.

The shows that I went to see in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival were all amazing and I will definitely be back for the festival in the future to see more great comedy.

My next post here will about my return to Wellington.

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