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Monthly Archives: January 2011

I never knew I was maternal until I saw Soap. Be warned readers, this production brings out the mother in you. You’ll gasp, cover your mouth and wished the performers would just wear a helmet for god’s sake! Hanging off aerial straps, tip toeing on the ledge of a wet bathtub, a pair of very mesmerising legs, an operatic diva with cougar-like tendencies and a cheeky trick the audience won’t see coming, Soap is a visually stunning performance of new circus, comedy and dance on a water-soaked stage. Add one portion water to seven artists performing to the music of Mika, Sia, The Doors, Nina Simone, Gnarls Barkley, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Curtis Mayfield, Goldfrapp amongst others and watch as they grow into a bathroom spectacular. Even though the performers lack the dexterity of better known circus acts like Cirque du Soleil, there is no denying the pure novelty of this production. A rough start with a few synchronisation problems did not stop the riotous opening night audience from whistling and shouting ecstatically in German. (Soap is a German production making its Australian debut after a quick stopover at the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe Festival). Like a modern family, the amalgamation of talents worked like a mismatched charm. This is liquid gold! Speaking of which, I recommend a visit to the toilet before the show starts.

Until Jan 23, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House, $44-55, 9250 7777,


Ladies and gentlemen, the stand-up comic from New York who called Fox News “a festival of ignorance” to their face, (drum roll) Lee Camp.

We in Australia don’t know much about you. Who is Lee Camp? I’m a former Playboy playmate and competitive eating champion who moonlights as a dock master. No wait, that was a lie. I’m an activist, writer (The Onion, Huffington Post), cultural commentator and reluctant actor. But first and foremost, I’m a stand-up comic. I feel like I’m a very funny politician who’s perpetually campaigning with insane ideas. For example, children are getting dumber every day. To solve this problem, we need to make Lego popular again. When Lego was popular, we only had smart kids because Lego choked the dumb kids. Vote for me. I’ll make our kids smart again.

What can the audience expect at your show? I try to make people laugh first and then think, but if either one is missing, I’m not doing my job. They should expect to hear a lot of making fun of America and the American culture. At times they’ll disagree with me, but that’s all part of the fun. That’s the great thing about comedy – you can disagree with every word I say but still enjoy yourself. You can’t do that everywhere. Can’t do that at a Neo-Nazi rally.

Did you plan on calling Fox News a “festival of ignorance” before you were on? When Fox News asked me to come on their national morning show and tell jokes, I had two thoughts. One was “Go fuck yourself” and the other thought was “Maybe I can use this opportunity for good rather than evil. So yes, I did plan on saying something but I wasn’t sure what. In that same clip I asked why they weren’t reporting on the million dead in Iraq (this was two years ago by the way). And despite what some people think, I never thought it would go viral and get millions of views.

If comedians get to be political, should politicians attempt comedy? In a way, yes. I think that the times Obama has appeared on The Daily Show have been great. However, for the most part it’s tough to see people with true power joking around about it. One notorious example is when Bush made a comedy video of himself “searching” for weapons of mass destruction. It included a moment in which he looks in his underwear drawer and goes, “Nope, not in here.” A lot people were justifiably disgusted.

Can comedy save the world? Comedy can help save the world by informing people. Nowadays with the speed information travels, getting a piece of information or a meme to go viral can have a huge impact on what people think. And comedy is often a shortcut to that goal. Comedy helped sink the presidential campaign of John McCain and Sarah Palin. Parody and satire were used to define Palin before she could define herself to the American people.

Do you fear the issues you address may not be taken seriously because they delivered with a sense of humour? I feel my job is to impart information through comedy and then let the facts influence people. For example, I have a rant about the death penalty and even though people are laughing at the jokes, they’re also receiving facts – such as the fact that the number one determinant of whether a murderer gets the death penalty in America is race of the victim (more often people get the death penalty for killing a white person than killing a black person). After I’m done with the bit, the audience can’t un-know that fact. They’re stuck with it. What they do with it is up to them.

Click here for the full interview.

Jan 20-22, The Laugh Garage Comedy Club, cnr Elizabeth and Park Sts, CBD, $22, 9264 1161,

[So, I’d promised you guys an interview. Sorry to still tease, but here is part of it. And a great clip of Arj and Poopy, Arj’s Flash series]

Arj Barker has come a long way from working at a deli. Not only is he getting paid to tell jokes, he’s going to get paid to test drive his new material on a guinea pig audience. A pretty sweet gig for Australia’s favourite slacker comedian. We chat about a less glamourous employment history with the Flight of the Conchords alumnus as he prepares to get up close and personal with his loyal fans at the Old Fitzroy Theatre.

Do you remember working at a 9 to 5 job? Yea, I had a couple of them but I never stayed long. I worked in a computer shop. Actually, I don’t think I ever had a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job. When I started doing stand-up, I was working with a wallpaper company. I was there whenever there was work. I’ve never had a flat-out 9 to 5 job.

What was your worst job? I think my least favourite job was in high school when I had a clean-up shift at a deli. I think I worked two hours a day. All I’d do was clean up gross stuff that collected throughout the day. The worst was this chicken rotisserie, with all the fat and gross stuff dripping down into this thing that you had clean up. And the boss wasn’t very nice, I was afraid of him.

How old were you? Seven.

Seven? Yea, fake ID.

Uh huh… Nah, I was like fifteen I think.

If you weren’t a comedian, what would you be? I think I’d be a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. But I think business would be tough since the internet came out.

Jan 23 – Feb 12. Old Fitzroy Theatre, cnr Cathedral St & Dowling St, Woolloomooloo, $25-$35, 1300 438 849,

Can you believe it’s been a decade since the 90s? A whole decade since little tube tops coupled with baggy overalls, a whole decade since hiding your belly button piercing from your parents and a whole decade since we were warned against chasing waterfalls. Ahh the 90s… When the world was rife with R&B music and AIDS was the hot topic. Finally, enough time has passed for us to relive the 90s. Join Mike Champion,  Berni Love, DJ Nasser T, DJ Sam Boutros and live band The Harlem Knights for a night of 90s fun. The cheese factor will be shooting through the roof with hits from Boyz II Men, TLC, Bobby Brown, Kid n Play, Foxy Brown and many more. Oh and ladies, get shopping for sexy jammies, as one lucky pyjama jammy jammer stands to win a $500 hair makeover. We’ve waited a whole decade for this day. Who knows, the 90s may very well be the new 80s.

29 Jan, Notes Live, 75 Enmore Rd, Newtown, $20-$30, 9557 5111,

Let’s play word association. I say ice and you think cream? I say cold and you think beer? I say glass and you think art? Perhaps art is not the first word that pops into your head. Ok, I’ll stop assuming what’s going on in your head and just tell you that Glimpse is a glass exhibition which explores the work of five female artists (Kate Baker, Annette Blair, Alexandra Chambers, Deirdre Feeney, Harriet Schwarzrock) working in the medium of glass today. This is, however, “not a feminist exhibition, nor a women’s exhibition” says curator Susan Benjamin. It is a display of the high quality of work each of these women show in their specialised craft. Each entry a piece of technical art to be marveled at and each entry evokes unexpected, nostalgic emotions in its viewers. Really, the way art should be if you ask me. So if I say Glimpse, you think, this weekend?

Jan 21 – Feb 5. Chalkhorse Gallery, 94 Cooper St, Surry Hills, 92118999,

A Sri Lankan girl meets an Anglo-Australian boy. They fall in love. Then come the sceptical parents. Will they live happily ever after? And more importantly, can they have curry for lunch? A cross between Sidney Poitier’s Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner and Ashton Kutcher’s Guess Who, co-director Maddy Butler’s (pictured above) latest play is a sprinkle of sugar, spice and all things interracial.

What was your inspiration behind writing a play about an interracial couple? I wanted to write a piece which promoted the notion that an Australian can be of any background – it is a culture, not a race. I felt that this could be demonstrated through an interracial couple. I have been in interracial relationships (my first boyfriend was Indian) and having grown up in a suburb with a large subcontinental community, I am familiar with the interaction between Australians from different cultural backgrounds.

What role does humour play in this production? Humour plays a strong role, in that it alleviates the seriousness of Jason and Ashwini’s situation. It brings out the funny side of the families’ cultural differences through the ways the different characters interact with and respond to each other.

You mentioned in a previous email that “We don’t see many opportunities for non-Anglo actors on the Australian stage”. With Australia’s growing South Asian community, why do you think this is? Many people are still stuck in the mindset of a white Australia. Also, the productions that involve Australia’s South Asian community often come from within the community itself and thus these productions and those by the Australian mainstream culture remain separate.

Your play is an encouraging sign for non-Anglo actors. Was it difficult to cast the Sri Lankan characters? It was quite a difficult process to find the Sri Lankan actors. We had an overwhelming response of actors applying for certain Anglo parts but not for the Sri Lankan parts. One of the reasons we had such difficulty was that we were casting Sri Lankan-Australian parts and needed actors with Australian accents. We were lucky to find the three talented actors that we did!

Do your non-Anglo actors struggle with getting hired? Absolutely. Our non-Anglo actors say that there are not many opportunities for non-Anglo actors and people often tell them to “not give acting a crack”. The roles that do exist for non-Anglo actors tend to be based on stereotypes as well.

What would you like the audience to take away from Curry for Lunch? At the end of the play we’d like the viewers to have an appreciation of interracial relationships and recognise and embrace that Australia is multicultural. That people can be from any culture and still be “Australian”.

Jan 27 – Feb 6, TAP Gallery, 278 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst, 9361 0440,,

There will be lots to do this Australia Day. Things that are Australian like barbeques, beers, playing two-up and apparently eating lamb. To add to the great Australian way of life, Mu-Meson Archives will be screening The Set – a 1969 Australian film about the life of the “arty set” in Sydney. There will be an in-depth exploration of homosexuality, nudity and “campy moments” as listed on the Mu-Meson website. In 1953, the beach scene in From Here Till Eternity was considered scandalous. If only they’d witnessed Aussie television actress Hazel Phillips rolling around on the sand confessing her love for other women. Starring the illustrious Sydney drag queen Ken “Kandy” Johnson, get set for The Set – a real Aussie treat on Australia Day.

Jan 26, Mu-Meson Archives, cnr Parramatta Rd & Trafalgar St, Annandale, $10, 7.30pm, 95172010,

This is the best cinematheque line-up put together by the Chauvel in recent memory. A lovely mix of obscure with just a sprinkling of big names like Hitchcock (The Wrong Man) Fellini (Nights of Cabiria – pictured) and Bergman (The Virgin Spring, Sawdust and Tinsel, Wild Strawberries). Why even the brothers Cohen make an appearance with Miller’s Crossing – trailer below, a film they made after Raising Arizona. Keep an eye out also for Jim McBride’s David Holzman’s Diary, an experiment to prove the discrepancy in cinema verite.

Until Feb 14. Chauvel Cinema. Paddington Town Hall, Cnr Oxford St & Oatley Rd, Paddington. $12. 9361 5398,

Like peanut butter and jelly, like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, like cold beer and humid afternoon – some things just go well together. And this summer, like most Sydney summers, film and the outdoors are a match-made in milk-and-cookies heaven. And the north side is representin’ with ME Bank Starlight Cinema. If you’re not from across the bridge, give this one a go. There’s less of a festival and more of a community feel at the North Sydney Oval. High screen, great sound and a bar within reach. It’s a great set-up and sheltered seats are just around the corner if Mother Nature pours. They also do kids parties along with screenings of Toy Story 3, Despicable Me, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Gulliver’s Travels and Shrek.

Until Mar 5, North Sydney Oval, Miller St, North Sydney, $8-20,

Films NOT showing at this dance-on-film event include Footloose, Dirty Dancing, Saturday Night Fever and Flashdance. If you are still reading this than you’d be glad to know that the selection of films chosen to screen on a big screen in the courtyard of the Riverside Theatres are a toe-tapping mix of the new (Mao’s Last Dancer, Every Little Step, This Is It), the well-loved (Hairspray, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Billy Elliot), the essential 80s (TAP), the real (The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky-pictured, Every Little Step, La Danse – Paris Opera Ballet) and the poetic (The Red Shoes, Only When I Dance). Films NOT included on opening night, anything with Astaire and Rogers. Bring it on!

Jan 18 – 23. 6pm for talk/documentary, 8pm for a live dance performance by Western Sydney Dance Action and film. The Courtyard, Riverside Theatres Parramatta, Cnr Church and Market Streets, Parramatta. $10. 8839 3399 ,