Review #MICF: The (Very) Big Laugh Out , Tie Her To The Tracks, Hannah Gadsby, Sophie Miller, Dom Romeo

So, my MICF planning has basically been trying to see people that I’m not likely to see at the coming-soon Sydney Comedy Festival, with occasional indulgences for absolute favourites of mine where I just can’t wait another few weeks.  My indulgence tonight was Hannah.

Fed Square Pitch
29 March – 13 April Tuesday-Friday 1pm, 2.30pm & 4pm
31 March – 22 April Saturday & Sunday 11.30am & 12.30pm
Fed Square Main Stage
A massive two hour show
30 March – 22 April Friday 5.30pm
Saturday and Sunday 2pm

First up, however, was the free outdoor show The (Very) Big Laugh Out in Federation Square from 2:30pm featuring The Amazing Mr Fish, a modern-retro-vaudeville showman with a tremendously cheeky line in patter and a terrifically scary 10-foot-tall unicycle.

Like a volcano of fun erupting on the city streets, The (Very) Big Laugh Out is an all-embracing, family-friendly – and FREE – program of roving acts and entertainers that takes the comedy outside across the course of the Festival.

Don’t miss out on autumn sunshine and free comedy.

Then, for the more standard shows in a room somewhere: first show of the evening was one of this year’s Moosehead Recipient shows, funded as part of the Moosehead Award‘s ongoing project to fund ambitiously different shows from Australian performers.

Poster for MICF 2012 show _Tie Her To The Tracks_
Starring:  Andrew McClelland, Asher Treleaven, Celia Pacquola, Sammy J with visual effects and incidental characters by Adam McKenzie.
29 March – 8 April, Tue-Sat 5.45pm/Sun 4.45pm, Melb Town Hall – Regent Room

A quiet country town in 1917 is about to see its first movie. It’s in black and white, it’s silent, it’s performed live on stage and you’re invited.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I’m always intrigued by the Moosehead shows, the cast of this one sealed the deal, and I wasn’t disappointed. An unapologetic schticky romp through tropes of yore, we have a moustache-twirling and cape-swirling villain (Treleaven), a dainty damsel with hidden strengths (Paquola), a naive but plucky hero (McClelland), Sammy J as the musical accompaniment and spruiker/general factotum Adam MacKenzie keeping the show on the rails (sorry). The knowing nods to the audience winking at more modern issues are deftly done while the dastardly plan unfolds and we wait to see whether Justice (and Love) shall Triumph over Malevolence! At only thirty minutes long and nice and early, this is the perfect opener to your night at the festival. Only 10 shows, and it’s a small room, so book!

poster for 2012 festival show Hannah Wants A WifeHANNAH WANTS A WIFE
Hannah Gadsby

29 March – 22 April, Tue-Sat 7pm/Sun 6pm, Victoria Hotel – Banquet Room

Who wouldn’t want a wife? They do things for you. If Hannah had a wife she would have written a better blurb and would be wearing smarter shoes.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ½
Gadsby’s been knocking standup for six for a few years now, and every year she just keeps getting better, which is no mean feat. Using her favourite painting to demonstrate some of the history of marriage, weaving back and forth between past ideals and modern skepticism, Gadsby neatly juggles the personal and the political. There was less disarmingly awkward Hannah and more dry intellectual Hannah, and although I’m as charmed by awkward Hannah as anybody, I prefer the relaxed and confident storyteller.

What honestly impressed me most last night (apart from lightheartedly managing the inevitable tech glitches of a preview run) was her restraint when the comedy gods gifted us with the perfect patsy who (a)arrived late with her friend and took the last two seats right up front; and (b) said she didn’t support same-sex marriage because it was her hen’s outing before her wedding next week and she was too selfish to share the spotlight with anybody else! Of course Gadsby used this – how could you not? – but she chose the rapier rather than the cutlass, and only used the pointy end every now and then.

Sophie MIller in Night Shift MICF 2012NIGHT SHIFT
Sophie Miller

28 March – 22 April, Sun-Thu 9pm, The Order of Melbourne (near RMIT)

Sophie Miller delves into the world of the modern day heroine. She tightropes the constant struggle between the young professional and late-night musician in a sassy, hilarious jazz show. A sultry crooning style, interspersed with hysterical tales of life.

☆ ☆ ☆
Sophie Miller writes, plays and sings very amusing songs. If you caught Princess Cabaret a few years ago, you may remember her as not-a-proper-princess Tinkerbell, the performance which prompted me to catch this show. Sophie is a lot more laid-back than Tink was, which is just as well given the happy hecklers at one table (“I love you!”) and the noisy chatterers at another (from whom I moved away and gave them a Julie Bishop death-stare). In fact, she may be too laid-back for her own good – I’d like to see her “sell” the patter between the music just a bit stronger and longer – the audience wanted more than just the beautifully executed songs, and I did too. The opening segment from new-ish comic Liam O’Ryan was a lot of fun and extremely capable for someone with only 6 month’s standup experience, although his set and Sophie’s set didn’t seem linked by much. I’ll be very interested to see how this show develops over the season.

Dom Romeo and guests

29 March – 8 April, Tue-Sun 11.30pm, The Upstairs Lounge @ Hairy Little Sista *, 240 Lt Collins St, Melbourne

Dom Romeo talks to your favourite comedians about their work and life, hilariously lifting the lid on how and why they do what they do. An ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ of Comedy.

DISCLAIMER: I’ve contributed to funding this show because I believe so strongly in it, and I’m staying in the producer’s spare bedroom during MICF. Therefore I’m not going to give a star rating review, just reasons why I think you should go see the show.
If you are a comedy tragic like me, and love peeking inside the comics’ heads, come and see the beginning of what is likely to become a cult classic late-night delight for future festivals. Last night Fiona O’Loughlin spoke with great honesty about her alcoholism and guilt and doubts as well as telling some damn funny stories, tonight is Tom Gleeson, you really should check out the rest of the line-up and come along – guests include:

Fiona O’Loughlin (Thur March 29)
Tom Gleeson (Fri March 30)
Fear of a Brown Planet (Sat March 31)
DeAnne Smith (Sun April 1)
Sammy J (Tue April 3)
Tim Ferguson (Wed April 4)
Greg Fleet (Thur April 5)
Hannah Gadsby (Fri April 6)
Celia Pacquola (Sat April 7)
Andrew Denton (Sun April 8)

And more info still to come…

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