A parody of musicals in the form of a musical. It may not be a novel idea but the genre lends itself to perfect self-deprecating humour when done well and this production is, mostly. The plot is simple – almost as simple as ingénue June who can’t pay the rent and has to dance and sing her way to a solution, five times.
Corn in the style of Rodgers and Hammerstein (Oklahoma, The Sound of Music) is the weakest caricature with an elaborate but unimaginative dream sequence featuring the annoyingly repetitive song “Oh, What Beautiful Corn”. But the laughs quickly pick up with A Little Complex á la Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd). “Welcome to the Woods” is written and sung to comedic perfection and the complex feels like Melrose Place gone psycho. Replete with a slutty dance sequence, the other stand out is Speakeasy in the style of Kander and Ebb which closely lampoons Cabaret.
Dear Abby in the style of Jerry Herman’s Hello Dolly and Aspects of Juanita spoofing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats and Phantom of the Opera are predictable but still draws laughs from a very supportive audience. Special mention goes to accompanying pianist Mark Chamberlain, whose dexterity was well-matched with the fast paced satire. For an enjoyable evening, go with a big group with some knowledge of the musical genre and is not afraid to make some noise.
Until 29 May, Parade Space, Parade Theatres, 215 Anzac Parade, Kensington, $45-$55, 1300 795 012, sydneycomedyfest.com.au, triptychtheatre.com.au
I await the day when my local pub would start broadcasting Theatresports so that I can curse and rant with gulps of cheap beer in support of my state team. I imagine shouting, “Come on you maggot! That’s not what you get paid for” (overheard at an actual AFL game) as improv artists fail to react humourously to spontaneous suggestions. This year’s championships will pit NSW team, The Tom Selleck Experience, with four other states in a heated contest for the grand title.
Selleck team member Lisa Ricketts, a teacher by day and improve artist by night, describes Theatresports as a “set structure of games that challenge performers to create instant theatre based on surprise offers and audience suggestions. Improvised theatre is the inspiration for TV shows such as Whose Line is it Anyway? and Thank God You’re Here!”
Whilst I may be a difficult imagined heckler, is the audience always erratic? “You’d be surprised how many people want to see scenes set in a toilet! But we prefer the situations given to us to be fresh and new and we don’t use pre-prepared material,” says Ricketts.
But what happens if you just have nothing funny to say? “You do the most obvious thing your character would do in that moment. Some of the funniest moments in improv come from very real, honest reactions which were never intended to be funny.”
Well played Miss Ricketts. If you weren’t so good with clever come-backs what would you be doing? “Well I am a trained teacher so I would either be teaching or dabbling in organised crime. I’ve been watching Underbelly and it looks pretty lucrative. If there was some way to combine those two, that would be ideal, like scamming the kids out of their lunch money in return for good grades. I should probably just stick with improv”.
2 May. 6pm. Enmore Theatre. 118-132 Enmore Road, Newtown. improaustralia.com.au
Their name says it all doesn’t it? Basic info – Two Muslim comedians from Melbourne tackling issues of race. Not so basic info – You may have seen Nazeem Hussain on ABC’s Salaam Café which mysteriously went off air after one season. The public tends to prefer him (Overheard after their Sydney show: “That first guy was way better” says one white guy with a mullet, I kid you not, to another) in the duo because of his fast-talking ways and spot-on Indian accent. Aamer Rahman takes on more complex and political topics which may not go down as well with a beer drenched crowd but he is an essential player in this comedy double. I will leave you with one my favourite lines from Rahman: “Just because I am at the petrol station, it doesn’t mean I work there”. Booya!
The boys are done with their shows in Oz and are off to Singapore to meet with a comedy pimp. www.brownplanet.com.au