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Monday, March 28, 2005

Melbourne sure loves a festival.

It's been a brilliant gimmick to attract tourists given that Melbourne is often cold, has shit beaches and no Haaaahhhbour (and no unrivalled Olympics either - ha, suck on that! Nyucknyucknyuck). (Although - Sustainable Living Festival? Antipodes Festival?). You just know it would never have worked in Sydney. Sydney people seem somewhat stand-offish (or is it suspicious?) of social gatherings that aren't centred on drinking, vomiting and then lying in the road, playing Chicken with on-coming traffic. Either that or it's "We're too busy WORKING and holding up the ECONOMY for something as pedestrian as live entertainment. GOD." Yeah, we're much too "cool for skool". And that's why we don't have one of the 3 biggest comedy festivals in the world.

Between sleeping in, shopping and eating I managed to fit in six shows this weekend:

Rebecca de Unamuno is Open to Suggestions - I've never been a fan of theatre sports or improv theatre after spending many a primary school lunch time playing "Space Jump". (You improvise a scene/sketch; someone yells out "Space Jump!"; you freeze and then the next person comes on scene and you both improvise another scene depending on the position in which you had frozen previously. And repeat. Thanks to Nina's fertile imagination we also did lunchtime re-enactments of Bram Stoker's Dracula and the Night of the Living Dead. I couldn't sleep without a light for about a year).

I still really liked this show though. It's completely unscripted: de Unamuno asks suggestions from the audience for a set of open general parameters (characters, events, period in time etc) at the start of the show and without further preparation she's on the stage acting out three different strands of story. This isn't typical laugh-out-loud live comedy (though she's frequently funny) but it's just fascinating. How can the stories be so well developed when she's making it up on the spot? How can she remember to keep the voices right or change her posture and mannerisms so seamlessly? How does she stay so composed when no doubt she's thinking, "Shit, what now?".

She asks each audience for a different set of elements and so each performance is unique. But she does it all so well, I suppose no one would know how hard it must be or what a great job she's doing unless they came back to check.

Mike Wilmot - is a gravelly voiced curmudgeon. Standards of good taste are not referred to when he writes his material. But that's okay because there's something about his complete absence of self-consciousness in discussing his middle-aged sex life that is hilarious rather than disturbing. I'd never seen Wilmot before and loved his show. But for those who have, MSB reckons he didn't have that much new material and towards the end relied on his tried and true "blue" stuff from previous shows because the new gags weren't quite as funny. So if you're a Wilmot fan but torn between him seeing someone new, try the other act (unless that other act is RCraig McLachlan).

Stewart Lee - another solid international. His show is stand-up but not the usual observational stuff. Telling funny stories is his act and he often takes 5-10 minutes setting them up. The pay off is good though - his soft dead-pan voice and quaalude dissociated demeanor are very effective. One of the magazine supplements in last weekend's Sunday Age gives away some of the best bits in his act so don't read it!

Jackson's Way - a Perrier Award winner and he's only 22. He plays an american motivational life coach. The message is to avoid doing things that have a point and embrace all that is pointless. He is a great performer but the audience I was with had mixed reactions to the show. One woman walked out after forty minutes while others couldn't stop laughing. I can remember almost the entire show - it left a strong impression with me - but I can't decide how I feel about it.

MSB and I were outside the Town Hall the next day and spotted a Sydney train ticket. We immediately thought - a Jacksonism! It must have been placed there by someone who had removed a Melbourne Tram ticket from that exact spot; taken it back to Sydney and brought back one of our train tickets to replace it. Someone Pushed Through with Intensity until they were sick and we noticed! That's a 1 in a million chance! ACHIEVED! I would sway towards a recommendation actually, because it's just very different to most of the shows that are on offer.

Chris Addison in Civilization - this show is worth every cent of the ticket price. Addison is so charming, witty, engaging and I-can't-breath-this-is-so funny that ladies, you'll be throwing your knickers on stage a mere 5 minutes into the show. The show itself is a historical trip through Mankind's sociological development with some brilliant one liners and observations. Coming from imperialist colonial stock he also seems to have a real interest and affection for Australia and brilliantly ( for he is indeed BRILLIANT) weaves pisstake observations of Australian behaviour, current affairs and politics into his commentary. I can't recommend this show enough; I'd love to see it again. And have his (manic, bean-pole) babies.

Rich Hall -

A George Foreman Grill
A George Foreman Grill
If you won't make me dinner
George Foreman will...

We saw Rich on his opening night and he was already on fire. He does the usual observational stand up with the odd song. His interaction with the audience and impromptu gags at their expense is as funny as his written material.

And sadly, regrettably that's all I had time to fit in...no Umbie Brothers, no Gud, no Demetri Martin or Lawrence Leung & Andrew McLelland this time. But I'll be back.


It may just be the blissful high of being on holidays but Melbournians, I love your City. Tree-lined avenues, proper urban planning, beautiful gold rush-financed architecture, wide footpaths, cheap delicious eateries, dirt cheap housing and a transport system that basically operates on trust (so charming) - what a great place to live!


Saturday, March 12, 2005

Smokers Just Don't Die Fast Enough

Is there a way to speed up tobacco induced lung-cancer? Because I am so damn sick of having to deal with smokers. I don't go around farting into other people's faces so I don't know why I have to inhale the noxious fumes of secondary smoke because smokers are too selfish to look where they're going or too lazy to give up.

They just sashay around the packed CBD, as cool as you please, just waving their cancer sticks in other peoples' faces, stabbing burn holes in other peoples' clothes, blinding the eyes of other people's children. All the while just ashing with abandon all over the place. (Some day I'd like to grab the fag off one such offender and ash it into his or her mouth - how do ya like that, ya bozo?). And when they're done, there's no need to walk up to a bin (of which there are thousands in this town), oh no, throwing the butts into the street is JUST FINE. I mean, ???! I just cannot comprehend the singleminded selfishness of it all.

A smoker's typical, oblivious reaction when presented with the statistics on lunger cancer and tobacco smoking is: "Oh, I don't care! At least I'll die happy!".

Ahem. We tell you these numbers not because we care whether you live or die (in fact I'd prefer it if you all dropped dead right THIS MINUTE). We tell you because it's just a polite way of saying: "Smoking causes lung cancer. Can you please fuck off because I don't want yo' secondary smoke shaving 20 years of my life expectancy. Thanks."

And it's more than that. Lung cancer, when it hits, is horrible for all involved. Leaving aside the patient (who shouldn't complain if it's self induced), the patient's family have to go through the traumatic, drawn out process of care and then grieving. Not to mention that smoking is also a lifestyle choice that non-smokers have to subsidise through the health system. All because some selfish fuckers want a toke.

Smokers. I say, SHOOT 'EM ALL, we pelt them with ashtrays and breath mints.


Solving Sydney's Housing Crisis

Have you seen some of the hovels that are selling for over a million in this town? Kuh-razy. How long do you reckon it would take for your average first home-buying family to save up a deposit for a million dollar (wtf?) house? A fucking long time I suspect.

So really, the only way I can see to effectively assist first home buyers enter the market is to evict all the old people in Sydney and transplant them into the Country. Or Adelaide. As most of suburbia's houses are owned out-right (bought for like, 48 bucks in 1921) by old folks this would exponentially increase the number of available dwellings and therefore bring down the value of property across the board.

Let's face it, old people tend not to have the money to maintain their homes anyway. What we have then, is a lot of old homes falling into disrepair because Ma and Pa Kettle don't have the funds or strength to fix them up. A travesty.

This policy would work well for the old folks as well as the young. Country living can't be that expensive surely? And if those stories by Today Tonight are to be believed with those poor bastards having to eat dog food to stretch out their pension pennies, then - PROBLEM SOLVED!! And there would be no motor vehicle accidents in the Country then because the average speed around town would be lowered to 25km/hr (by popular practice if not legislation). Dotty old folks could run wild without fear of muggers because the other old folks would be too weak to beat them up. Disputes can be solved by showdowns at High Noon (walking sticks at the ready). It would be a veritable Utopia.

So I say, OLD PEOPLE OUT! (Except for you, Grandma! *kisses*).


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A friend of mine began dating again having separated from her husband. After a promising start with a 30-something corporate flunkie type she decided to end it because he just drank too much for her liking (an understanding "deal-breaker", I think). The morning after, he emailed her with his bank account details and told her to wire money into it as payment for the bottle of vodka he'd left at her place (half of which he'd consumed the night before) and for the unopened 6-pack of condoms he'd also left behind. OK I've never dated much, but is that what's out there?? I shed a tear.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I will be south of the border during the Easter Break for the Melbourne Comedy Festival '05 - YAY!

The last time I was in Melbourne was July 2000. It was ... for the Aust'asia Model UN Conference. Yes, how Lisa Simpson of me. No it wasn't my idea - the friend of a friend couldn't get time off from work to go and couldn't get a refund from the organisers either so I took his spot. Out of compassion! By the time our group managed to get registered all the power countries were gone so we ended having to represent Uganda and Rwanda. (Now, I've never been to a Star Trek Convention but I suspect that model UN conferences come pretty close). One guy on my committee insisted, insisted that we all had to stand when speaking. And when we voted him down (priorities, priorities), he asked the mediator guy for special permission to stand.

Anyway, I can't wait to go back! 3 days, 9 shows and a whole lot of shopping (hmmm, maybe even a visit to the Neighbours set), hurray!


Sunday, March 06, 2005


I witnessed comedy gold tonight at the last Lano & Woodley performance of The Island. I hurt so much it's like I spent two hours on the ab-roller. Fucking genius.

Slightly less intelligent, but almost as hilarious:

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