Dr Neal Professor Portenza: Catchy Show Title

Dr Professor Neal Portenza (real name Josh Ladgrove) is in the thick of the Adelaide Fringe when I speak to him. His character, a generous creator of laughs behind a multi-title name, is having its fifth outing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The most important thing for Portenza is that the audience is willing to join in on the comedy. “It’s just an extremely interactive show, I mean the way it was described here in Adelaide the other day was ‘collective comedy’, which is really interesting. So it’s character-based, some people say it was a little bit ‘clowny’, I’m not sure I agree with that but I think that it’s character-based, interactive comedy that’s supposed to be fun, and funny.”

The abstract nature of Catchy Show Title means it’s difficult to pin down what the show is actually about. “The show is never really about anything, which is not a pretentious thing to say, but, you come, some stuff happens, then you leave hopefully smiling. There’s no plot, there’s no story, there’s no arc, it’s just an hour of very different, interactive, fun.”

Interactive can sometimes be a bit of a scary word for audiences, but Portenza is reassuring about his definition of audience interaction. “My number one rule is ‘never make people feel like idiots’, that cheap, crass, kind of interaction does feel awful and does cause a lot of anxiety…one of the comments I get from time to time is ‘I really hate audience interaction but this was great I felt really comfortable’. Really, really early on I try and make the audience feel really, really comfortable.”

Portenza leaves his shows open to the possibilities of the night, but he still turns up with a literal bag of tricks to go with the figurative ones. “I started the Adelaide Fringe with not very much of an idea…but at the end of the festival, and by the time the start of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival comes around, there’s really good structure in place, and so whilst I improvise to get from A to B it’s not like organised improv – it’s certainly not the American style of improv, it’s just very specific to that night’s audience, so no two shows are necessarily the same, how I arrive at those points though varies pretty wildly depending on the audience.”

When listing his influences, it’s good to hear they’re mainly Australian. “I think the main influence is someone like Shaun Micallef and Sam Simmons, but then older things like Graham Kennedy, really was the king of looseness, and that sort of style of just being really with the audience, not just grinding through my material hoping that every audience is going to be the same from night to night, working hard to find what is funny about this specific moment.”

Throwing Lano and Woodley in there as well, Portenza gives big props to American comedian Dr Brown. “Dr Brown has been pretty instrumental in kicking my arse actually.” I ask if that’s personally or on a more metaphysical level. “On a more metaphysical level, letting me have the belief in myself to take the show to places where it couldn’t necessarily get if they were just written sketches.”

MICF is a time to take a bit of a gamble on your comedy, and it’s something that inspires Portenza. “When the audience are up for something a bit different, you can go to some really interesting and special places, and it can be an extremely fun night. It’s for someone who wants to see something a bit different, a bit off the beaten track. It’s a pretty good choice I reckon.”

Venue: Melbourne Town Hall – Backstage Room, Cnr Swanston & Collins St, CBD
Dates: March 26 – April 19 (except Mondays)
Times: 9.30pm (Sundays 8.30pm)
Tickets: $18 – $23

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Jekyll X James: Cactus Blastus

Jekyll x James return to Melbourne with their own unique brand of musical storytelling in Cactus Blastus, a riff on the western genre. I asked Cameron James to fill me in a bit more on the flavour of the show. “Jared and I do music, comedy, sketch comedy and clowning all in one. We play live music – live hip hop and punk songs – and then we loop that music and we do sketches and stupid shit on top of it…last year’s show was horror-themed, this year’s show is cowboy and spaghetti western themed.” They’re covering as much of the genre that they can. “Our show is a live action peyote trip – the audience comes on a psychedelic peyote trip with us through the wild west.”

It’s the perfect excuse to get out the movies that made the genre, to get your teeth into some hardcore research, something that went a little bit awry in Jared and Cameron’s plans. “We’re both movie fans so we’ve seen a whole chunk of westerns in our time. We went to the video shop – I can’t believe they still exist – but we got out 15 westerns, and we started watching one, and then we just sort of stopped watching it and started watching YouTube videos of people being hit in the face or something – we lost interest in the research very quickly, and instead started riffing off the things we already knew, the things we had seen before and whatnot. It’s art.”

The western is a large and varied genre as well, so the pair are trying to stick to the old-school tropes, rather than battle with such groundbreaking films as Wild Wild West. “I’m sure we had a big conversation about [the giant mechanical spider], but we decided that Will Smith already covered it so deftly. We’re more into the spaghetti westerns, the westerns made by Italians and all the westerns made by people who were taking LSD in the ’60s, that’s kind of the stuff that we’re more interested in.”

Jekyll and James circled each other in their own solo stand up careers before finally deciding to join forces, but the process was organic. “Jared would be onstage and I’d be in the audience and I would heckle him, and then it would become a sketch. We’d bomb each other’s sets and hijack each other’s shows from time to time, and then last year we wrote our first actual show…and that’s how we found our actual style…I think, that I haven’t seen anyone else do a combination of music and clowning.”

Although they’ve been compared to The Mighty Boosh and Flight of the Conchords, it’s hard to pin down the pair’s influences, as they prefer to continue working on their style, “It’s really about coming up with the best stupid idea – we put a high premium on stupidity in our writing.”

After Melbourne the pair are continuing to tour, but are also looking to work in another direction. “We haven’t really discussed this in depth, but we’re also thinking of making this the basis of a web series. I see it moving in that direction beyond being a live show, I see it becoming something new online. I haven’t really discussed this much with Jared.”
I point out that if I put it in the article then it will have to become true. “Exactly! There’s no argument with that.”

Venues: Forum Theatre – Carpet Room & Pizza Room, Cnr Flinders & Russell St, CBD
Dates: March 26 – April 19 (except Mondays)
Times: 9.45pm (Sundays 8.45pm)
Tickets: $15 – $18 

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Rebecca De Unamuno: Is Open To Suggestion

Veteran impro performer Rebecca De Unamuno is making her 40th birthday a year-long celebration, and it all begins at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. “I did Open to Suggestion ten years ago, and it was a Moosehead award-winning show…I turned 30 during that run and in Melbourne on opening night it’s going to be my 40th birthday, so I’ve sort of set up a ‘festival of the 40th’ – for the next 12 months I’m going to do all of the things that I love to do, and I love this show so I’m bringing it back.

Audience suggestions kick off each show, with De Unamuno forming three characters based on offers from the audience. Over the course of the next hour she creates monologues based on her three characters whose lives are somehow intertwined. How that link occurs is different every night. “I never know when that’s going to happen, or when I’m going to think of it or discover it. I had one where one of the characters was a cat owner and the cat had nine lives and had touched all three of their lives. Or somebody was writing a romance novel and then it turns out that one of the male characters that I was playing ended up the lead in the romance novel. It’s just looking for those similar themes or recurring parts of dialogue that end up connecting the characters.”

This way of storytelling relies on a mixture of sources, including her own experiences. “I think audiences can appreciate when a story comes from truth, rather than making it up, and there’s many times in my show when I might be playing a character who has nothing to do with me, but something that’s happened in my day or a song that I’ve heard…might just creep into the show.” This is just one of the ways that De Unamuno’s show differs from those performed by an impro group. “When you’re performing with other people, when you’re improvising, you can rely on them to come up with an offer if you don’t have one, but if you’re on your own you’ve just gotta keep going until something pops up.”

De Unamuno is playing the Adelaide Fringe when I speak to her, and Open for Suggestion is already off to a flying start. “This has been the first chance for me to do the show after ten years and get it back on its feet. You have a love/hate relationship with it until you feel like you’ve hit your stride, I’m loving it again which is great…every show is different, so even if it’s just to prove a point you can come back and see it again. I’ve had a few recurring audience members here in Adelaide, which has been great. I don’t play the same character twice in a run, so that’s the challenge for me as well.”

Although a highlight of De Unamuno’s ‘festival of the 40th’, she’s got some other big plans for the year. “I want to have a party! I’m 40 and I’m single and I figure I’ve been to so many weddings and so many christenings and birthday parties for young people, that I figure that I would like to have a party.”

Why do they get all the fun?! “Yeah! I want to get some presents! And there’s a few places in the world that I’ve never travelled to – I’d love to have a holiday, and just watch all the films that I really enjoy, and read the books I love, that kind of thing!”

Venues: Victoria Hotel – Vic’s Bar, 215 Lt Collins St, CBD & Melbourne Town Hall – Backstage Room, Cnr Swanston & Collins St, CBD (April 13 only)
Dates: March 26 – April 13 (except Mondays, bar April 13)
Times: 7.15pm (Sundays 6.15pm, April 13 6.30pm)
Tickets: $19 – $25

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Jonestown: Guinea Pigs

Nicholas Johnson is one half of Jonestown (the other half is comedian and ventriloquist Sarah Jones), the Moosehead and Golden Gibbo-awarded duo performing at this year’s MICF. Last year’s Pajama Party was a hit, and Johnson is looking forward to their latest installment.  “Guinea Pigs is a narrative-based sketch comedy show about Sarah and I being locked in a box against our will, and forced to perform a series of cruel and unusual psychological experiments. We call it Saw meets RadioLab.”

Although the world of psychological experiments is relatively new to Jonestown, stories heard in podcasts about the old, less-regulated days of scientific research really captured the pair’s imagination. “I’ve always been interested in that sort of podcast, you know that sort of This American Life: ‘Did you hear about that pop psychology thing they did in the ’70s?’ Like the Stamford Prison Experiment where they locked students up and pretended they were in prison, and then they all went slowly insane. Where the ordinary, mundane scientific experiment suddenly just becomes a weird off-the-rails kind of explosion.”

The most outrageous, and memorable of these experiments was too intense to be completely included in the show. “Harry Harlow did the ‘Wire Mother’ experiments on monkeys, where he asked: ‘I wonder what would happen if we put a monkey in a box with no light and no contact with anyone for months.’ And the monkey would go insane, and he would say, ‘Ah! Interesting.’ But now, rather than do it on a monkey, we do it on a pair of middle class comedians.”

Long-time friends, the pair developed their writing partnership by accident. “We’re both anti-social, so we would enjoy sitting in cafés [working and] not talking to each other, which was a very good writing partnership. We would just shoot ideas back and forth across the table at each other, until we realised that we were writing together, and writing sketches and other bits and pieces, and finally we put together our first show, last year, which was Pajama Party…it was a little like we’d made home brew in our basements and then found out that people actually enjoyed drinking it.”

They’ve also come up with an unusual way to market the show, by turning their Twitter account (@jonestowncomedy) into an story reminiscent of the Choose Your Own Adventure series. “It’s an extension of the show. People can go online and play – they can be locked in a room with us and try to escape.”

The first choice for followers is whether you are going to follow Nicholas or Sarah. Who’s getting more hits? “Definitely Sarah, it’s always something to do with her. We find in our shows if any sort of choice is involved people will choose Sarah.” Which he is totally cool with? “Absolutely! We’re both quite antisocial so the idea of not being chosen is pleasant. It’s been really interesting working with someone else, how audiences interact with different performers and how people feel much safer coming up and talking to us after the show, that sort of stuff. It’s interesting.”

The pair are looking at taking the show to all the major festivals, as well as some regional shows. “I think we prefer to take the path less travelled, and we don’t always do the same thing as other people…at the moment Sarah’s doing shows on cruise ships in the South Pacific somewhere. So we always have things going on that are different from what other comedians might do.”

Venue: Portland Hotel – Gold Room, Cnr Russell & Lt Collins St, CBD
Dates: March 26 – April 19 (except Mondays)
Times: 7.15pm (Sundays 6.15pm)
Tickets: $20 – $25

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Dates: March 26 – April 19 (except Mondays)
Times: 7.15pm (Sundays 6.15pm)
Tickets: $20 – $25

Asher Treleaven

 

Asher Treleaven wont tell me about the lobster dance, but then again he’s barely had breakfast. I catch him on the phone in Adelaide on what he promises are his final mouthfuls, and dutifully call back a few minutes later. I tell him not to worry, I’m not going to work the questions too hard. “That’s good because I am an idiot. For a while there I was talking into a brick, instead of my phone when it rang.”

 

The critically acclaimed comedian who is known for his keen blend of smart political satire and ridiculous physical comedy is back for his seventh comedy festival, and this time his show, Smaller Poorer Weaker Cheaper, approaches his subject, fear and the economy, a little differently. “I set out to write a show about how rich people being arseholes is bad for the economy. When I finished writing the show I talked to my wife… she said ‘That sounds like a shit idea, can you please just write a fucking show that is you, rather than pretending to be this kind of activist, left wing intellectual browbeating comedian telling people how the world is when you’re really not like that at all.’ And I said, ‘Tell me more.’ and then she gave me the most serious dressing down have ever had in my life as a comedian, and I have had some savage reviews from some absolute pricks. So I started again.” With the aid of this editorial savagery, Treleavan has transformed the show into something that is “About a man desperately trying to convince an audience, any audience, that you can do a good show while everything falls to shit around you throughout the day.”

 

With Treleaven’s distinctive, energetic style, combining wit and physical comedy, it’s hard to fault an evening spent at his mercy. Although his comedy has always been centred around the physical and the silly, his political force has been a fixed aspect of his work. “Politics are part of me and part of my personality. It’s about picking the political things I talk about, rather than letting the new social media wash over me… You just get bombarded by all this shit to be angry about all the time…. it can be difficult sometimes to not only, I guess, pick the topics, that matter to you, but also to pick topics politically that you are educated enough to approach in a fresh way.”

 

This sort of talk is definitely refreshing. “You hear so many comedians going ‘blah blah blah gay marriage’ and you’re like, you’re not part of the community, you don’t give a fuck about this, you’re just saying it to get kind of like, a clap… I’m as angry about things as anyone else, but just because I’m angry about the wrongful incarceration about refugees on Manus Island, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I have the intellegence, the research and the comedy chutzpah to go on stage and talk about it as a white middle class vanilla fucking pedestrian guy.” Wise words, but what becomes most apparent about this chat is the special event that is in store for his audiences. He says, “Why don’t you ask me about my big lobster dance finisher?” I’m not one to disappoint. Please, can he tell me about this lobster dance I’ve heard so much about? “Oh come on it’s a secret, I mean you’ve gotta see the show, then you’ll get the lobster dance at the end of the show, I can’t tell you about the lobster dance now.” It’s more something you have to experience for yourself? “It really is.”

 

Venue: Gin Palace – The Swamp. 10 Russell Place, Melbourne

Dates & Times 27 Mar – 20 Apr 9.30pm

Tickets: $28 & $25

Bookings: http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/smaller-poorer-weaker-cheaper-asher-treleaven

 

Published as part of the Beat – Melbourne Comedy Festival Lift Out

Marty Putz, The Very Weird and Slightly Dangerous

 

Canadian comedian Marty Putz returns to the Melbourne Comedy Festival after a ten year sortie into producing and writing television. His show, The Very Weird and Slightly Dangerous is an all ages affair, but it still retains its edge, “I think we all like that rush of something that tends to make you feel just a little dangerous, whether it’s the first time we get on a bike, or the first time we ride a skateboard. For me my hero was Evel Knievel growing up, so a lot of the dangerous elements I kind of see myself that way a little bit, and the weird, I’ve always loved weird things, I’ve always loved magic… magic was always weird to me. I loved the sideshow freaks at circuses and quirky inventors and anything that was slightly odd.”

The Comedy Festival loves its family-friendly comedy as a way of getting laughs to as many people as possible. “I like to call the evening shows ‘Simpsons-friendly’… there’s a little bit of edge that would go over the heads of kids, for the adults, there’s a lot actually, and the afternoon show is really geared towards, you know, full-on family and kids.” These afternoon sessions will be concentrated over the school holidays, so that everyone can witness the gadgets and inventions Putz is going to bring to his comedic visual weirdness.

Comedy came to Putz as, literally, an accident. “I loved magic as a kid, and I was a really bad magician… I had things go horribly wrong, like I dropped the rabbit… and people laughed, and rather than be upset about it I kind of just fed off it and proceeded to muck everything else up purposely, and that’s when I heard the laughter, that was it.” These early days have grown into full-blown spectacular, with flying hamsters, exploding suits, weird inventions and huge marshmallow fights making up the show.

“We’re locked away in a secret location where right now I’m working on all the pneumatic fittings to try and get some of this stuff going. I’m excited to go into the Spiegeltent, and I think it lends itself to my show because it’s kind of a new vaudeville vibe to it… and I think there’s this great sense of ‘What happens in the tent stays in the tent’.” His enthusiasm beyond the Spiegeltent, for touring Australia and New Zealand is palpable. “I love this part of the world, everything about it… there’s a nice sense of reckless opportunity here as a performer. I find Australian audiences welcome strange and creative people who are willing to step on the edge to try something different… it’s just fantastic.” And his love of Australian and New Zealand performers is just as enthusiastic.

“I haven’t really sat down to decide what I want to see, but I remember Fleety, Greg Fleet I always enjoy. I pretty much want to see anyone that’s not North American just to get a taste and a flavour of what’s going on in this part of the world. And the Umbilical Brothers are great, and I always loved loved loved Lano and Woodley, and I know each of them has a show going now too so I sure would love to see both of them. They were fantastic.”

 

Venue: The Famous Spiegeltent at Federation Square

Dates: 27 March – 6 April (not Mondays) at 7pm (Sun 6pm), 8 April – 19 April (not Mon, Fri & Sun) at 2.30pm (Sat 5.30pm) Previews 27 Mar – 30 Mar

Tickets: $15 – $28

Bookings:http://www.comedyfestival.com.au

 

 

Published as part of the Beat – Melbourne Comedy Festival Lift Out

Stephen K Amos

 

Stephen K Amos is a charming, much-loved veteran of the Melbourne Comedy Festival. He is currently in Adelaide before moving on to Brisbane and then Melbourne for his, what number Comedy Festival in Melbourne? “Do you know what, I can’t, honestly, genuinely remember. When I first came out to Australia many years ago, maybe it was nine years ago, I never dreamt, in my wildest dreams that I would still be here, in 2014, doing another show… in Adelaide it’s raining, very unusually, I’ve been here for a week, and it’s just been the most amazing long weekend ever, with Womadelaide, the Future Festival, the Fringe Festival, the Festival Festival, it’s all happening.”

For his show this year, What does the K stand for? Amos is concentrating on his personal stories, and how they relate to the universal. “I’ve called it ‘What does the K Stand for?’ because that is the one question, bar any, that I’m asked of, and everywhere I go, be it an interview or someone on the street it’s ‘What does the K stand for?’ and it got to the point where I was thinking ‘What are the other questions people never ask each other, as human beings?’ And I’m sure we’ve all got a question that people keep asking us, whether you’ve got a funny sounding name or maybe you’ve mole on your face, but people don’t normally ask about your sexuality, or religious or political beliefs. You know there’s certain questions that you don’t even broach, you know those dinner party conversation killers? So I’m just having a light-hearted look at all the questions that should have been asked.”

But when I ask what that letter K does stand for, Amos is coy. “If I tell you that then the end of the show will be a bit of a giveaway.” For him, this is where the heart of his show comes from, “I propose the idea that it could be anything.”

Amos has just wound up his last tour two weeks ago, and is about to start work on a sitcom.”This is something I’ve written and it’s all about my kind of formative years growing up in South London, a child of immigrant parents, so it’s quite an interesting time, and also I’m thinking of doing a three month tour in America, after I’ve finished here in Australia.”

He’s looking forward to seeing his fellow comedians from the UK, but he’s also enthusiastic about the Australian comedy scene. I’m looking forward to seeing Sarah Kendall, a Melbourne lady who has done some very good stuff in the past, and also there’s some very good news for one of the comedy festival galas, I’m not quite sure if I’m allowed to say anything about it at this moment.”

That is something to look forward to, but he’s not to be distracted from encouraging local talent. “All I would say is that I’m very grateful that the Australian audiences, be it Melbourne, Brisbane, or Adelaide, come out and support what I do, but I also think that it’s very important that, you know, you also seek out your local talent. There’s a lot of people coming through the Australian comedy scene that are making waves around the world, so check out people you’ve never heard of, but yeah come and watch me too, you’re guaranteed a laugh.” The other thing that he’s looking forward to is in Adelaide, “I can’t wait for the closing party here, it’s going to be full on.” Have you got any goals, goals for the party? “Maybe to wake up under a table somewhere that isn’t my hotel? It’s a good goal isn’t it?”

 

Venue: Athenaeum Theatre

Dates: 27 March – 20 April (not Mondays), Previews 27 & 28 March

Tickets: $36.00 – $45.00

Times: 19:20 [Sun 18:20]

Bookings:http://www.comedyfestival.com.au

 

Published as part of the Beat – Melbourne Comedy Festival Lift Out Guide

The Boy with Tape on His Face

 

The Boy With Tape On His Face has gone from strength to strength since his breakout Edinburgh Fringe season four years ago. The New Zealand comic, real name Sam Wills, uses a blend of whimsical visuals, prop gags, and puppetry, along with gentle audience participation to charm his audience. Wills tells me more about his character and his brand new show, which he is currently performing in Adelaide.

“The Boy With The Tape On His Face was a character I developed seven years go. I used to do sort of normal stand up comedy back in New Zealand until I got bored of my own voice and bored of doing the same sorts of tricks and stuff, so I set myself a goal to develop something which had no talking and no tricks, and I wanted to find a way to get the audience to entertain themselves, so the character came from that.” The clincher, though, which created his namesake, came more out of necessity than anything else. “On the first night of the show, I went onstage − and I didn’t have tape originally − I went onstage and ruined it within the first couple of minutes by talking to the audience, out of a general panic of being way out of my comfort zone. And so the next night I was backstage joking with some other comics, and a roll of gaffer tape was around, and one suggestion turned into now a career.”

When talking about influences and how he builds his character, like his show, Wills draws a little bit from everywhere, including his main inspiration, Wile E Coyote. “I love that concept where you can phone in and you get this delivery and it’s this crazy invention. And for me I take that to junk shops − there’s a shop here in Adelaide called the Reject Shop, which is very good, you know the shops that carry bric-a-brac, multivitamins, clothing, hardware, I love them because you can find everyday objects that everyone knows, and for me it’s a challenge just to take that object and make it into something else that people aren’t expecting, and match it with a perfect song to create a whole new thing with it, which is really fun.” Which means he’s over the moon when I tell him we have a Reject Shop in Melbourne. When I mention Arthur Daley’s Clearance House he knows all about it, “Oh I know that one, I remember that one from five years ago and it was freakin’ amazing!”

It’s time to clear up peoples’ fears about the audience participation element of his show, something that could wrongly send punters running. “It’s the nice sort − this is the other thing I’m trying to do one audience at a time is change the perception of audience participation, cause when you say that everyone freaks out… people who have done audience participation have been doing it wrong, where they tend to humiliate the one person onstage… whenever I get someone up on stage I want to celebrate them being there and that they helped out with the show, so that when they leave, they’re leaving the stage a hero! And it’s reached the point now where people are actually wanting to be on stage which is very strange.”

It seems like audiences can expect a thoroughly positive and hilarious experience from The Boy With Tape On His Face. “The last time I was in Melbourne was five years ago at the comedy festival, and that was my first show so the show that’s happening this time is never-before-seen in Melbourne, it’s 100 percent new material… it’s good fun.”

Venue: The Forum, Upstairs – 154 Flinders St, Melbourne

Dates: 27 March – 20 April (not Mondays), Previews 27 – 30 March

Tickets: Thu/Sun Full $30, Conc $25, Tue/Wed All Tix $25, Fri/Sat All Tix $30

Times: 7:30pm Tue-Sat, 6:30pm Sun

Bookings:www.comedyfestival.com.au, www.ticketmaster.com.au or 1300 660 013

 

Published as part of the Beat – Melbourne Comedy Festival Lift Out Guide

Tom Stade (Best of the Edinburgh Fest)

 

I feel charmed but slightly depersonalised when I ask Tom Stade − one third of the Best of the Edinburgh Fest show playing at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, and acclaimed Canadian comic − to tell me about his show. “Well Beat − I hope you don’t mind me calling you Beat? I feel kinda of close to you guys now. I am the show… you come to see Tom Stade and not a theme. And Tom Stade has many themes, to focus on just one would not be a true celebratory representation of life. Just buckle in and get ready to relate!” He then apologises for speaking in the third person. Since I am being referred to as Beat I can’t really find the heart to complain.

 

Stade got into comedy the way most seem to − in an extreme moment of clarity and inspiration. “I was elevated out of whatever humdrum existence society had for me before comedy intervened! I was planning to ‘end up’ being an actor until I went down to a comedy club many moons ago and saw a friend who was on, and he pulled some strings and next thing I know I did my first gig and I never looked back.”

 

This is Stade’s second Melbourne Comedy Festival, and he’ll be playing with two of the UK’s hottest new comics. “My partners in comedy crime are the super comedy talents of Carl Donnelly and Kai Humphries, I’m proud to be one of their wingmen.” Donnelly has been referred to as “A remarkable talent − a relaxed, easygoing anecdotalist with an eye for funny details.” While Kai Humphries’ style is known as “Happy, original and surreal.” When Stade talks about where he’s at, he’s philisophical about his ambitions. “I think I’m hungrier now for success than I was a couple of years ago. After we signed a DVD deal and recorded the Tom Stade Live DVD it lit a fire under me! I try to stay true to the comedy art form, and would always try to be successful in the comedy biz on my own terms − looks like the biz likes my terms!”

 

What thing, person or idea are you most obsessed with at this time? “That’s easy, first we’ll start with ‘thing’ and that has to be my Kindle Fire HD. ‘Person’? That’s easy the wonderful, challenging, sexy, frustrating, ‘why won’t she just do things my way, yes I’ll listen,’ and smart, the greatest photographer in the world and equal partners in the Stade family business…Trudy Stade! And ‘idea I’m obsessed with at this time’ is why is Scotland the only place if you buy a house you have to bid over the asking price? Messes with my head!”

 

When I ask what else he gets up to in his spare time apart from being depressed about real estate he replies, “I’ve joined a beginners jogging club and I’m up to 5min walk, 15min jog, 5min walk, cool down. Oh and I enjoy gambling all my money away! There’s a horse track in Melbourne right?” Sure is. He’s coy when I ask if he has any other projects in the works right now, but he is at least super enthusiastic about the festival. “I could’ve of done a lot more [Festivals], it’s not like I wasn’t asked constantly, but sadly I have an awesome family so it was hard to get out there without leaving them behind. But the kids are older now, so look out cause the Stades are a-coming!”

 

27th March – 20th April, Tue-Sat 7.30pm
Sun 6.30pm

70 minutes

VENUE: RMIT Capitol Theatre

PRICES

$26 – $34

Published as part of the Beat – Melbourne Comedy Festival Lift Out Guide

Paul Foot performs Ash In The Attic

Paul Foot falls in with the past decade’s refreshing crowd of high surrealist comedians which, on this side of the world, is instantly associated with French duke darlings The Mighty Boosh.

In fact, the pedigree isn’t just a vague association, as Boosh-style guru Noel Fielding directed (in the broadest sense of the word) Foot’s current comedy show Ash In The Attic.

Despite being seen as the man who speaks a comic language from a galaxy far, far away (with a heavy dose of Shire horse-based humour on the side), Foot sees things otherwise: “My style of comedy is quite simple, I tell a few jokes, and then go home. Although they’re not really jokes, more like disturbances. I have characters too, such as Skeleton Johnson, Inspector Foot and Penny. Penny likes Australia; Penny is bi; Penny likes to take things to the next level.” Are Foot and Penny going to get up to much when he’s in Melbourne? “I’m going to make an effort to get out a bit more in Australia and maybe go on a rampage smashing beach huts with a golf club. I’ve been offered free surfing lessons but I’m not interested unless they can provide me with waterproof sudokus.” Fair enough.

Skeleton Johnson and co. all come up regularly on Foot’s website, a spidery rambling extension of his brain. “Originally Jemima Lozenge was my web editor, but she was so awful at hosting a website that I had to sack her. She couldn’t even host a small cocktail party in the suburbs of Southhampton. I currently edit my own website; it’s a nice way to relax after a week in the casino. Live by the slots, die by the slots, that was my Great Aunt’s motto before she died.” One section even categorises every joke Foot has ever told in a stand-up show, including how it went with the audience, and whether he is considering reviving it again. Maybe it’s an indication of the inner workings of a mind that completed a mathematics degree in Oxford before moving on to comedy?

But really the mainstay of the website is for it to act as a haven for Paul Foot’s ‘connoisseurs’, the exclusive name he gives to his ever loyal fans, rewarding them with secret gigs and much more: “Every year I hold the Annual Paul Foot Art Competition in which connoisseurs of my comedy draw me and the winner receives a hamper of objects from my house. You can see a video of me judging this year’s on Youtube.”

There really is something admirable about cultivating a following. “My connoisseurs are my lifeblood. Unlike other organisations, such as the Flansham Whist and Chatterbox Society, everybody is equal within the Guild Of Paul Foot Connoisseurs. The members are not fans of me; they are appreciators of my humour. They have no particular interest in me as a person and wouldn’t be bothered if I were run over by a bus, other than the fact that my comedy would end (after some brief laughs about the bus).”

Even so, Foot’s popularity has grown to such an extent that he now needs to hold “secret secret shows” for the old guard cream of his connoisseur crop.

Paul Foot performs Ash In The Attic at Melbourne Town Hall’s Cloak Room from March 31 – April 24. It’s at 9.30pm Tuesday – Saturday and 8.30pm on Sundays. Tickets are $23 – $29.50 and available from Ticketmaster online, 1300 660 013 and at the door.

View the original article here: http://www.beat.com.au/comedy-festival/2011/03/30/paul-foot-performs-ash-attic/julian-barratt-noel-fielding-paul-foot-mighty-boosh