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Category Archives: COMEDY

Critics will tear this film apart. The plot is flimsy, many of the performances two dimensional and most of all it’s missing Sacha Baron Cohen’s famous real-life, candid-camera moments with unsuspecting everyday people as in Borat and Bruno… but this is still his best work yet. The Dictator holds a big, fat mirror to the ludicrous nature of dictatorships still present in the 21st century and multiplies it with a strong Cohen dose of parody. Admiral General Aladeen, beloved oppressor of Wadiya thinks it’s cute when women go to school and likens it to watching a monkey on roller skates. In another scene, he delivers a baby and says: “I have bad news, it’s a girl. Where’s the trash can?”. Things that are said and done in this film are shocking but they are based on true events and perceptions held by some even today. The speech he makes at a UN convention towards the end of the film pointing out the ironies of the American state of affairs and its show of democracy is brilliant and the SNL-like portrayal of newsreaders and their annoying habit of describing at length even the most mundane details during a live report is cringingly accurate. That’s where the good stuff ends.

You may have noticed that I haven’t actually told you what the film is about, bringing me back to my second sentence, the plot is flimsy. A dictator gets replaced by a double in a conspiracy by his advisor (Ben Kinsley) to turn Wadiya into a democracy so that the western world can exploit the oil-rich country. Cohen escapes to New York and without his beard he is unrecognisable. He must find a way to gain back his title. The Dictator is badly executed, no pun intended but I like this new turn of exaggerated Michael Moore-esque filmmaking pursuit Cohen has taken. (Released May 16)

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I saw Kitty’s live stand-up gig Charming & Alarming late last year at the Sydney Opera House and she is a riot. And you can tell I’m totes on first name basis with her because I interviewed her last year as well. Read the Komi & Kitty interview here. Wow, that sounds like a Japanese animation. As for the Happy Endings bit, you’ll be glad (or not) to know that’s the name of the hottest comedy venue right now in Sydney. It’s cosy, intimate and you can see every zit, sweat droplet and untrimmed nose hair of whoever’s on stage. Good times! Kitty is supported by Lindsay Webb and Sam Bowring.

July 9, Happy Endings Comedy Club, 145 Brougham St, Cnr William St, Kings Cross, 8 & 10pm, $25, 9300 9060, happyendingscomedyclub.com.au

What do Dylan Moran, Arj Barker, Ross Noble and Stephan Amos have in common? They were all fresh-faced comedians introduced to the world at Bulmers Best once upon a time. I pick the brains of this year’s graduates Carl Donnelly, Tom Allen, and Seann Walsh before they realise their talents are well worth $10 per head.

CARL DONNELLY

It says in the press release that you took up stand-up in 2005. What were you doing before that? I worked in an office as an accounts assistant which was the last of a series of dead end jobs I had done since dropping out of university at the age of 19. I was never cut out for the whole 9 to 5 thing. I had the gift of being able to do the bare minimum of work required to not be fired! One of the worst things I used to do was sneak off for naps in the toilets. I would always go to a toilet on a different floor if I was hungover etc and have a 30-minute snooze around 10am. Then when I came back to my desk I’d pretend I had been in a short notice meeting.

What’s the obsession with covering your feet? What’s wrong with them? I have a strange OCD thing where I feel constantly paranoid when not wearing shoes. I’m convinced I am going to stand on something sharp or kick a door etc. I’ve had it since being a child. So for as long as I can remember, I can only be barefoot when in bed (or in swimming pools, anywhere where it is necessary). This fact is on my Wikipedia page but I have no idea how it got on there.

Are you looking forward to performing in front of an Aussie audience? Of course. One of my favourite things about being a comedian is that danger/excitement of going on stage in front of a room full of people that don’t know you and convincing them you are worth listening to. Doing that in another country is even more exciting as you are talking to people that have a totally different way of life with different cultural references. Obviously the danger exists that they won’t have a clue what I’m talking about but I’m willing to risk it!

TOM ALLEN

What would you be doing if you didn’t make it in comedy? I’ve always had a fantasy about opening up a cake shop – somewhere by the sea. I think it’d be a cake shop that also sold other things (like power tools for example) and it’d close on Wednesday at lunchtime so I’d have time to maybe go to a Zumba class. As a comedian you don’t have any kind of comfy routine so I think I’d enjoy having my evenings to cook dinner, maybe paint a wall or even watch a soap.

Who would play you in the movie of your life? The man from Crocodile Dundee or possibly John Malkovich as we have a similar hair line, though he has a much higher voice. I met him once. He was dressed completely in white.

For Aussies here who don’t know anything about you, why should they come see you? I guess because I’m different (eccentric even? maybe at times odd). I’m obsessed with stories, details and the way we interact with each other – like the time I offered to carry a disabled man’s bag down the stairs but then realised I couldn’t lift it off the ground. For me, live comedy is about finding those things, however odd, that we’ve all got in common, and that make us laugh because we go, “Oh I’m not as weird as I thought”. It’s just relief! If you come, we’re going to have one hell of a good time together!

SEANN WALSH

Time Out London’s called you this generation’s Dylan Moran. Your thoughts? I was very flattered when I read that but it is ridiculous. I think it’s just because I can do quite a good impression of a drunk guy.

What has been the proudest moment in your comedic career thus far? Probably the recording of Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow (Not the edit! I cried when I watched the edit). All I have ever wanted to do was stand-up on primetime television. Everything in my life starting from school was built towards that moment and it couldn’t have gone any better

Your top five favourite comedians? Charlie Sheen, Charlie Sheen, Charlie Sheen, Charlie Sheen and Charlie Sheen

Have you been to Australia before? What are you looking forward to seeing/doing here? I haven’t. Friends that have been told me there’s a great cafe culture in Australia, which is great for me. My favourite thing to do in life when I’m not drunk is to sit outside a cafe, smoking and drinking black coffee all day. I must stink!

Apr 27 – May 8, The Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Rd, Enmore, $27-$30, 9020 6966, factorytheatre.com.au


Former thrash metal rocker who has been drumming up controversial topics all over Europe the past decade returns home to give Aussies a dose of Conspiracy Realist. Is he metal, mad or a thought machine? Take a deep breath and leap into the mind of Steve Hughes, if you dare…

You observe and joke about everything from politics to sociology. Are you constantly working even when you don’t want to? How do you stop? I don’t stop. This is my job. It’s not really healthy but this is it. I’ve never been a happy person but I’m not miserable and am quite fun to be around but I can be rather intense for people are who are more content than me. I’ve tried to be more chilled out but alas, that is not my path. Nothing has ever helped except art, music, comedy, performing and pot.

Do you reckon Australians recognise local talent only when they’ve made it overseas? That’s a complex question and a very interesting point I have often thought about myself. I think Australians recognise talent and there is a lot of it here but the cultural conditioning of the establishment which will not recognise talent has an affect on all of us. Its pathological promotion of sport, which I find as a creative and intelligent person utterly offensive, is disturbing.


The establishment finds art too risky a business as it requires contemplation and self analysis, an adventure that has never been promoted in Australia as it may embarrass the over compensating attitude of always trying to look good and moral, not only to the world but also to itself. Australia in my opinion, always embarrasses itself in front of the world by trying not to embarrass itself. It’s lack of honesty about its past, formation and true identity makes it a conservative, conformist even childish environment where real art cannot survive and will not be recognised. This is why most Australians have never even heard of, let alone seen the film Wake in Fright.

What do you look forward to about performing in front of an Australian crowd? I like the fact that Australians, if they like it, laugh from their guts. No bullshit. There’s a rawness to it that I like.

Who are your top five local or international comedians? Well that’s a hard one to answer as I like comics for different reasons. I love comics who speak from their heart,  have an opinion and not care about who likes them, like Glenn Wool, Jim Jefferies and Chris Wainhouse. I also like mad eccentric comics like Paul Foot (UK) who is doing his first ever performances in Oz right now. I like Tommy Tiernan who is amazing as is Stuart Lee, who is a master.

Thanks Steve. Thank you for the interview. Hail the Gods.

Apr 27 – 30, Enmore Theatre, 118-132 Enmore Road, Newtown, $34-$39, 9550 3666, enmoretheatre.com.au

Cracker Night (CN) kicked off the Sydney Comedy Festival (SCF) proper on Monday, April 14. Cracker Night features ten-minute quickfire stand-up performances by comedians doing full shows at SCF. My partner Dave and I went to the CN at Metro Theatre. The show only started at 8.30pm so we went to a Korean restaurant in the city. A spicy hangover pork rib soup, grilled eel and a few sips of potent soju later, we were ready. The theatre was packed and Tahir the MC kicked off the night like a pro. To be honest, I’ve seen a few minutes here and there of SBS’ Pizza and never liked it. Tahir as a stand-up, however, is a different story. He is spontaneously funny.

This was the line-up: Dead Cat Bounce (IRE), Dave Eastgate, Moshe Kasher (US), Craig Hill (SCT), Tom Allen (UK), Rhys Nicholson, Glen Wool (CAN), Tig Notaro (US), Daniel Sloss (SCT), Gina Yashere (UK) and Steve Hughes in that order.

Here are my favourites that I recommend you go see – Dave Eastgate, Tahir and Steve Hughes. I’ve been with Dave for almost 5 years now and I’ve never heard him laugh as hysterically as he did during Hughes’ closing act. Click here to read my interview with the man.

Special mention goes to Rhys Nicholson (pictured), Tig Notaro and Gina Yashere. I was disappointed with Dead Cat Bounce, Moshe Kasher and Daniel Sloss. To be fair Sloss is only 20 years old and I’ve still got hope for Bounce. I hope this helps with your choices for the festival!

Until May 8, Sydney Comedy Festival, Various Locations, sydneycomedyfestival.com.au

William Shatner

Friday 1 April

Charles Ross: One Man Lord of the Rings – Sydney Opera House ($45-$65)

Garry Who, Oliver P, Alan Glover – The Laugh Garage ($12-$25)

Melbourne International Comedy Festival: After The Horse with Steve Sheehan –
Museum of Contemporary Art ($12-$15)

Owen O’Neil – Sydney Comedy Store

Saturday 2 April

Charles Ross: One Man Lord of the Rings – Sydney Opera House ($45-$65)

Garry Who, Oliver P, Alan Glover – The Laugh Garage ($12-$25)

Melbourne International Comedy Festival: After The Horse with Steve Sheehan –
Museum of Contemporary Art ($12-$15)

Owen O’Neil – Sydney Comedy Store

Sunday 3 April

Charles Ross: One Man Lord of the Rings – Sydney Opera House ($45-$65)

Melbourne International Comedy Festival: After The Horse with Steve Sheehan –
Museum of Contemporary Art ($12-$15)

Monday 4 April

Melbourne International Comedy Festival: After The Horse with Steve Sheehan –
Museum of Contemporary Art ($12-$15)

Tuesday 5 April

Kirk, Crane & Beyond: William Shatner – State Theatre ($119-$199)

Steve Sheenan

Thursday 7 April

Catch a Rising Comic & Bruce Griffiths – The Laugh Garage ($12-$25)

Melbourne International Comedy Festival: After The Horse with Steve Sheehan –
Museum of Contemporary Art ($12-$15)

Friday 8 April

JJ Mullard & Bruce Griffiths – The Laugh Garage ($12-$25)

Melbourne International Comedy Festival: After The Horse with Steve Sheehan –
Museum of Contemporary Art ($12-$15)

Saturday 9 April

JJ Mullard & Bruce Griffiths – The Laugh Garage ($12-$25)

Melbourne International Comedy Festival: After The Horse with Steve Sheehan –
Museum of Contemporary Art ($12-$15)

Sunday 10 April

Melbourne International Comedy Festival: After The Horse with Steve Sheehan –
Museum of Contemporary Art ($12-$15)

Chris Wainhouse

Friday 25 March

Comedy Court: Kristin Bosenberg, Andrew Megregar, Ray Cashman, Joseph Mifsud, Tobias, Danny Giles, DJ Zoran – Star Bar ($10)

The Interminable Suicide of Gregory Church by Daniel Kitson – Downstairs Theatre, Seymour Centre ($25)

Matt Iseman – The Laugh Garage ($12-$25)

On a Wing and a Prayer: Fiona O’Loughlin – Sydney Opera House ($55-$59)

Sydney Comedy Festival Preview Night – The Factory Theatre ($25)

Tim Minchin vs Sydney Symphony Orchestra – Sydney Opera House

($49-$129)
Saturday 26 March

Chris Wainhouse – Happy Endings ($15)

The Interminable Suicide of Gregory Church by Daniel Kitson – Downstairs Theatre, Seymour Centre ($25)

Matt Iseman – The Laugh Garage ($12-$25)

On a Wing and a Prayer: Fiona O’Loughlin – Sydney Opera House ($55-$59)

One Man Lord of the Rings: Charles Ross – Sydney Opera House ($45-$65)

Quick Comedy: Kristin Bosenberg, Matthew Wakefield, Sacha Marx, Danny Morgan, Jenny Campbell, Peter Lloyd, Blake Edwards, Cam Lord, Jen Wong – Star Bar
Tim Minchin vs Sydney Symphony Orchestra – Sydney Opera House ($49-$129)

Sunday 27 March

Jacques Barrett, Joel Creasey – Sydney Comedy Store

On a Wing and a Prayer: Fiona O’Loughlin – Sydney Opera House ($55-$59)

One Man Lord of the Rings: Charles Ross – Sydney Opera House ($45-$65)

Tim Minchin vs Sydney Symphony Orchestra – Sydney Opera House ($49-$129)

Charles Ross

Tuesday 29 March

Charles Ross: One Man Lord of the Rings – Sydney Opera House ($45-$65)

Owen O’Neil – Sydney Comedy Store

Wednesday 30 March

Charles Ross: One Man Lord of the Rings – Sydney Opera House ($45-$65)

Mixed Nuts – The Laugh Garage ($12-$25)

Owen O’Neil – Sydney Comedy Store

Thursday 31 March

Charles Ross: One Man Lord of the Rings – Sydney Opera House ($45-$65)

Owen O’Neil – Sydney Comedy Store

Friday 1 April

Charles Ross: One Man Lord of the Rings – Sydney Opera House ($45-$65)

MC, Oliver P, Alan Glover – The Laugh Garage ($12-$25)

Owen O’Neil – Sydney Comedy Store

Saturday 2 April

Charles Ross: One Man Lord of the Rings – Sydney Opera House ($45-$65)

MC, Oliver P, Alan Glover – The Laugh Garage ($12-$25)

Owen O’Neil – Sydney Comedy Store

Sunday 3 April

Charles Ross: One Man Lord of the Rings – Sydney Opera House ($45-$65)


Comedian Matt Iseman is 190cm tall, a trained doctor and is the host of a home makeover show in the States. So the man can fix anything around the house, save your life and make you laugh while he’s at it. Ladies, we speak to the man who seems a tad too good to be true.

For Aussies who don’t know you, can you tell us a little about yourself? I used to be a doctor.  Now I tell jokes.  I am the go-to guy on Clean House (television show on Style Network) which means I’m good with a hammer.  I host Sports Soup and American Ninja Warrior which means I love sports and ninjas.  I am an all-American guy who loves his friends and family and thinks classical music is the hair metal bands of the 80s.  I could eat breakfast three meals a day, especially because it’s the easiest to make.  I am pretty much a guy who is looking to enjoy life to its fullest.

You chose comedy over a medical career but is there anything you miss about being a doctor? I miss better parking and being able to give people drugs to make sure they laugh at everything I say.  Other than that, I really haven’t ever looked back.  Sure, I’m not saving lives now, but I love going to work.  And I rarely get sued anymore.

 

 

You seem to have had many different jobs. Which was the worst? I worked at Taco Bell for one day.  Then I found out what they put in the tacos.  Considering I had eaten there almost every day in high school, that was a rough job.

 

What are you looking forward to seeing/doing in Australia? I’m not sure if boxing a kangaroo is legal anymore, so I guess I’m just looking forward to meeting the people. Everyone I meet from Australia seems to be friendly, easy going and capable of drinking enough beer to get a blue whale drunk, so I want to meet them on their home turf and experience the world the way they do.

Mar 24 – 26, The Laugh Garage Comedy Club, cnr Elizabeth and Park Sts, CBD, $15-25, 9264 1161, thelaughgarage.com

As promised, my interview with Arj Barker. Published in 3D World, Brisbane & Gold Coast

Comedian Arj Barker chats to KOMI SELLATHURAI about his dance skills, a case of halitosis and repeat complaints from audiences about his stand-up show, Let Me Do The Talking, coming soon to the Brisbane Comedy Festival.

 

Maybe it’s his drawl or the way he takes his time with the answers as if he were smoking a spliff in between questions, everything Arj Barker (eventually) says sounds funny. And that’s why Aussies can’t get enough of Californian Arjie Barjie. We love him here because he is so deadpan (I can hear his poker face over the wire), he makes colleague Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords look like a Hi-5er.

Taking inspiration from the Conchords song, I ask Arj what he’d do if there were “too many dicks on the dance floor?” “Leave or go to another club,” he says without hesitation. Are you a good dancer? “I can be when I am inspired. Once in a while I can really get in the zone. When I’m not in the zone, I’m really shit because I’m awkward and my heart’s not in it”.

Ironically, it is especially his awkwardness that makes him so endearing. On stage in Sydney last year, he lost his cool and then his momentum over a heckler. He walked around on stage uncomfortably only to be cheered on riotously by a crowd that obviously adored him. Yet, he received some serious complaints about his show, Let Me Do The Talking.

“It’s a great show from beginning to end. I’ve been working really hard on it but I’ve had a lot of complaints since the start of the tour and it’s always the same complaint.” What’s that, I asked concerned. “People say their faces hurt from laughing. If you get a chance to see it, you should. I can honestly say it’s a very funny show, probably my best show yet.”

Arj likes to take the piss and he enjoys the occasional prank. So when I confessed that I Googled his name and was surprised to find a picture of him in his birthday suit, he said, “Yea, that. It was meant to be a practical joke. I was house-sitting and I thought it’d be funny if I took a picture naked with his guitar. And when he sees it, he’d be like WTF were you doing in my house. I guess that picture got leaked.”

Oh well… He seems like someone extremely comfortable in his own skin. Does he laugh at his own jokes when he watches himself? “Well I don’t watch myself, only when I’m helping with the DVD editing. But I don’t really sit around and watch myself. I leave that to other people.” Maybe he’s a Johnny Depp type, far too critical about himself. “Well, I don’t need to. I know what I’m gonna say,” he says laughing.

And if you do get your hands on his latest DVD, Forever, you’d get a sneak peak into his previous dabbling in Flash animation, Arj and Poopy – a series starring himself and his cat Poopy that speaks in farts. “I’ve had a coupla cats but Poopy is not specifically based on any one cat,” he says as I ask him if the series was based on a cat he owned or how about a dog. “No, but I’m sort of an uncle to several dogs.”

Besides, with Arj’s lifestyle, it may be a little difficult to own pets. He’s been in Australia now for more than half a year. “I have a lot of friends here and I don’t differentiate good friends and family.” Despite his semi-residency in Oz, he flits around state to state in a manic nomadic way. Flying all the time can’t be fun.

“I sat next to somebody with not the freshest breath in the world. I generally don’t chat too much until we’ve landed. Because if you start talking in the beginning, you may have to chat with them the whole ten hours. And if they have halitosis, that can be a real problem.”

Oh Arj, just a little compromise for having made it as a comedian. What would have happened if he wasn’t a comedian though? “I think I’d be a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. But I think business would be tough since the internet came out.”

There’s never a dull moment when you are in a conversation with the Arj. He is the people’s comedian, in this case, the Australian people’s comedian. The kind you’d want to have a beer with after the show. But even the most likeable, easy-going people must have regrets or unfulfilled dreams. So I ask my final question: What did you believe in when you were 18 that you wish you still believed in today?

“Santa Clause. I was really gullible so I didn’t find out till I was 19.”

Mar 15 – 20, Brisbane Powerhouse, $39-$44, briscomfest.com

For a man who can’t stop but talk on stage, Daniel Kitson is extremely media shy, or maybe I should say media uninterested. His representative in Sydney tells me in an email that, “Daniel is based in the UK and is not hugely keen on doing media interviews”. This is frustrating as, THE INTERMINABLE SUICIDE OF GREGORY CHURCH, is written and performed by Kitson and the introduction to his one-man show on the Seymour Centre website reads like a gripping teaser to a black comedy on stage. “Gregory had fifty-seven letters to write… He glanced at his watch and then at the noose hanging over his head… Had he known how long suicide letters take, he thought, he wouldn’t have cancelled the milk for the morning.” He is a multiple award winning stand-up comedian with a penchant for one-man theatre productions, a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Melbourne International Comedy Festival and someone who probably doesn’t need to give an interview to fill a venue. As the great Ali G would say, restecp!

Mar 15 – 27, Downstairs Theatre, Seymour Centre, The University of Sydney, cnr City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale, $25, 9351 7940, sydney.edu.au/seymour