Comicide Work/Life Sentence (Early Shift) and Metrosketchuals
Sketch Comedy from Comedicate until April 18th
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Performance: Friday April 2
The sight of Josh Et Beau (Josh Ladgrove and Beau Fitzpatrick) in a touching Good Friday tableau as the Madonna and child is probably burned into my brain for ever. And I’m not trying to make that sound like a bad thing.
Comicide and Metrosketchuals are associated through an umbrella group Comedicate and their mad uncle Josh Ladgrove, who’s listed as Producer for Comicide and, with the wonderfully bemused Beau Fitzpatrick, forms half of Metrosketchuals.
Comicide is a group sketch comedy outfit in the fine Australian tradition – D Generation, Fast Forward – and although their promotional material suggests it’s a takedown of police drama, like other sketch comedy groups, any life situation is fair game. A right wing shock jock rambles himself into taking the opposite position to the one from which he started. A faux-Shakespearean scene descends into dadaist madness. A cheery prison officer gives his new intake an introduction to their new home. An old friend visits for lunch… And revenge!
Highlights: Joe Stella, square and blue-jawed in pleated trousers and tie, was perfect in character as an authority figure – the shock jock, the prison officer. Nick O’Regan, in a cameo lasting only a few seconds as an Elizabethan court jester, took the sketch to a different level with great loose, ridiculously marionettish dance moves. I wish this talent could have been used more in the show. Jeremy Brull showed the same kind of talent, but with the rubber face – he shone as the character who’d like to be eeeeevuuuulll, but somehow falls short of properly scary. (Running gag – “You’ve made a very powerful enemy!”) On the downside, the women in the cast were underused, I thought, reacting more often than acting. (Random Fact learned while googling the cast: Amy Romalis is not only an actor, tap dancer and general board treader, but an inventor.) The show was pacey and tight. Could this group be Australia’s next Fast Forward? or has the availability of reality TV killed the possibility forever?
After the clean, minimalist staging of Comicide, Metrosketchuals, or Josh et Beau as they’re also called, started with a riotous mess of props and the characters bound and gagged. Metrosketchuals uses mixed media – a screen at the back of the stage shows some videos by Ladgrove and Fitzpatrick. Comparisons between this duo and The Boosh are quite apt, but Ladgrove and Fitzpatrick bring enough of their own talent and direction to their work not to end up as an antipodean imitation.
The premise of Metrosketchuals is that the duo have been kidnapped and left in a chaotic, locked room, with no food or water, and a foodless fridge with a Scary Guy living in it. Their job is to escape. This “journey”, as they say in TV-land, consists of a grand tour of various video and cinematic cliches. The black screen titles and “donk-donk” sound effects of the Law and Order/SVU genre. Slow-mo. SAW and slasher movies in general. Gollum from Lord of the Rings.
Josh et Beau’s chemistry and timing is spot on. The show’s more riotous and shaggier than a sketch show like Comicide, but these two know the difference between shaggy and sloppy. At one point, and I won’t give the backstory away, they’re required to redo a segment they’ve just performed, backwards. Try doing that at home. The mother-and-child segment is simply inspired. I loved the visual puns (the Pens segment) and Ladgrove as the Police Spokesperson – anyone who’s ever cringed and winced at the mangling of the English language on the TV news by police or other officials will find this cathartic. While the video clips smacked a bit of “we’ve got these lying around, let’s throw them into the mix”, there’s a “happening” by Ladgrove involving a boom box and a pedestrian crossing which is a must-see. As is Beau Fitzpatrick writing, death metal style.
Laugh-o-meter result: Extremely high.
Ridonkulousness level: Extreme.