Friday, April 14, 2017

MICF- Nazeem Hussain and Helen Thorn

MICF 2017
I began the evening for my final two shows of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival at ACMI to catch Nazeem Hussain's show Public Frenemy. Nazeem recently appeared on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! so the first part of his show was about his experiences in the African jungle. As expected Nazeem discussed the current state of politics in both Australia and the US (using some of the material from Political Asylum last week). The most hilarious bit though was about when he worked at the Telstra Call Centre and the emails he sent to then CEO Sol Trujillo to try and get fired.

MICF 2017
Next I headed up to The Tuxedo Cat on LaTrobe Street for my friend Helen Thorn's show Thorny Questions. Helen came out onto the stage in a black catsuit (not the gold lame one she normally wears as one half of the UK comedy duo the Scummy Mummies). In this solo show Helen discussed topics such as body image, the labels we put on ourselves, being in a long-term relationship, and her experiences with bullies during her teen years growing up in country Victoria. There were even a few "guest" appearances by some different characters, including Helen's mother-in-law. I found the show to be very funny, with some laugh out loud moments which may have been aided by knowing a few of the people being discussed in the show in real life.

Knafeh Bakery Melbourne

This afternoon I met up with Ebony at Zaatar on Sydney Road, Coburg to check out the bearded bakers of Knafeh Melbourne. They were there as part of Zaatar's Good Friday Appeal carnival to raise money for the Royal Children's Hospital. Housed in a refurbished shipping container with some beautiful street art portraits, the bearded bakers have an assembly line going to make the sweet cheese dessert knafeh (like a Middle Eastern creme brulee).

The bearded bakers are also known for their singing and dancing while they are baking, which makes for a very entertaining wait while your knafeh is being made. Not only do they occasionally dance on the tables along the front of the container, but a few of the guys also popped out to dance to the singer and band performing at the carnival. It was a very enjoyable and fun afternoon with some tasty food.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

MICF- Joel Creasey and Rhys Nicholson

MICF 2017
Tonight's Melbourne International Comedy Festival shows featured two of Australia's top young comedians (who also happen to be good friends). First up was Joel Creasey's Poser at Max Watt's. Joel's shows are always entertaining and this year didn't disappoint. Joel has reached the stage in his climb to fame of getting untrue stories about himself published in the tabloids. He shared gossip on various Australian "celebrities," told the hilarious story of his Thanksgiving dinner in Docklands with a group of gay American Trump supporters, and had funny and touching things to say about his encounters with Joan Rivers and Carrie Fisher before their passings.

MICF 2017
Next I headed down to ACMI for Rhys Nicholson's show I'm Fine. Rhys was exquisitely dressed in a tailored suit with his perfectly coiffed red hair. His show covered a wide range of topics in a rapid fire style, including his social anxieties, awkward teen years (with a very cringeworthy story about hooking up on a tennis court), white privilege, and a visit to a sex shop with his long-term partner to enliven his"vanilla" tastes. The show finished with Rhys bringing out a very interesting prop.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

MICF- Richard Gadd and Political Asylum

MICF 2017
Last night I attended another two shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. First I went to ACMI to see Scottish comedian Richard Gadd's show Monkey See Monkey Do, which won best comedy show at the 2016 Edinburgh Comedy Awards. In the show Gadd is literally running away from his anxieties as the majority of the show is performed on a treadmill. This unique and courageous show covers mental health, masculinity and how talking to people can help you get that monkey off your back.

MICF 2017
Next I headed to the Melbourne Town Hall for the annual Political Asylum Late Night Riot! show. In its eighth year, this mega show featured a number of comedians doing short stand-up sets with a political tinge. Highlights for me were MC Mathew Kenneally and his observations on Australian politics throughout the night, Nazeem Hussain's description of his encounter with a Trump supporters rally on Hollywood Boulevard before the election, Rod Quantock's hilarious history of Australian politics drawn on a flip chart easel pad, and special guest Andy Zaltzman's take on Brexit and Trump. As Political Asylum do monthly shows at The Brunswick Green I will have to check it out again in the future.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Scummy Mummies Book Launch

Tonight I had the pleasure of heading to Readings in Carlton for the book launch of Scummy Mummies by Ellie Gibson and my friend Helen Thorn. Ellie and Helen are the comedy duo behind Scummy Mummies, the number one parenting podcast in the UK. Helen is out here with Will and the kids for a family holiday and to perform a solo show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, so it was good to get a chance to catch up with them and help celebrate the release of the new book.

Comedian Claire Hooper acted as MC for the evening and kicked things off with a few stories of her own parenting travails, such as crying as she spied on her child through a fence at day care after dropping her off for the first time. Next up was Michael Williams, Director at the Wheeler Centre and former panelist with Helen on the short-lived 2005 ABC arts show Vulture. He joked that Vulture united the disparate arts community in its hatred for the show. Then Helen took to the podium in her gold lame Scummy Mummies jacket (unfortunately no gold catsuit this time) and spoke about meeting Ellie for the first time four years ago and their journey from the podcast to live comedy shows and now a book. If you are a parent who likes to drink wine and feed your child fish sticks instead of organic food then this is the book for you!

Sunday, April 02, 2017

MICF- Tommy Little & Gossling, Rose Callaghan and DeAnne Smith

MICF 2017
For tonight's Melbourne International Comedy Festival shows I started at The Famous Spiegeltent at the Arts Centre to see Tommy Little & Gossling perform Heartbreak & Hilarity. Combining the music of Gossling and Tommy's stand-up, it was a great mix of storytelling and songs about love and heartbreak as Tommy talked about trying to get his unicorn. Touching at times with a hilarious musical ending, this was a fantastic and unique show you should definitely check out if you get the chance during its limited run.

MICF 2017
Next I went to The Forum for Rose Callaghan's Will You Accept This Rose? As you can guess from the title it was themed around The Bachelor, which is one of my guilty pleasure tv shows (both the US and Australian versions). Rose even got Osher Gunsberg to record the intro and voice overs throughout the show. Along with stories about run-ins with former contestants, Rose also spoke about the adventures of her dating life, with one particularly spectacular story to finish the show.

MICF 2017
My final show for the evening was North American comedian DeAnne Smith's Post-Joke Era at Taxi Riverside. DeAnne's show was very entertaining and touched on topics such as depression, gender and identity, equality and how straight men should be treating their women. There were so many mike drops it was hard to keep track, and she finished with a great story about what can happen when you respond to someone's texts to the wrong number.

Friday, March 31, 2017

MICF- Hannah Gadsby, Josie Long and New Order UK

MICF 2017
It's the funniest time of the year with the start of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this week. We began the evening at the Melbourne Town Hall for Hannah Gadsby's Nanette, her latest and reportedly last show at MICF. I've been to many of Hannah's shows over the years, and this was one of the most powerful and brilliant pieces I've seen from her. It's a very brave show that touches on the impacts of homophobia on identity and self-worth, mental health, violence, and fighting through it all to achieve self-acceptance. This is not a show full of laughs but an important personal statement about resilience.

MICF 2017
Next up was British comedian Josie Long in her show Something Better. Josie is ever the optimist, even while being a lefty progressive during a period of conservative UK governments and Brexit. As someone hitting her mid-thirties she takes joy in the little things like drinking pinot grigio and the youthful effects of wearing a chunky necklace. However, this show mainly focuses on finding inspiration from the underdog and keeping your chin up in the face of nationalistic right-wing movements around the world.

MICF 2017
The final show I attended this evening was at the Victoria Hotel and featured four young up and coming UK comedians in the annual New Order show. First up was Brennan Reece, who spent most of his set chatting with a few members of the crowd getting to know a bit about their lives. Next was Ahir Shah, who had a fast-paced set around social and political issues such as colonisation and Brexit. The third act Emma Sidi was the highlight of the four as she performed completely in character as a scorned woman confronting her cheating boyfriend and sister, with the whole set spoken entirely in broken Spanish. The last act of the night was Steve Bugeja, who played up his geeky and awkward nature in anecdotes about his life.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

French Film Festival 2017

I have once again been busy attending the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival over the past couple weeks. My tight list of five films expanded a bit as work colleagues encouraged me to join them for other films. Here is what I ended up seeing this year:

Slack Bay is a slapstick comedy set in the early 1900s in the seaside town of Slack Bay. Summer visitors to the town keep disappearing, and the bumbling local detectives can't figure out what is going on (or what role the locals may be playing). While Juliette Binoche was great in her over the top performance as the haughty Aude Van Peteghem, I didn't find the movie to be that funny as it seemed to rely on tired cliches and physical pratfalls for cheap laughs.

It's Only The End Of The World is the latest film by French Canadian director Xavier Dolan, and was winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Based on a play of the same name by Jean-Luc Lagarce, the plot revolves around playwright Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) returning to visit his family after a 12 year absence to tell them that he is dying. There are tense interactions with his mother (Nathalie Baye), brother (Vincent Cassel), sister (Lea Seydoux) and sister-in-law (Marion Cotillard), and everything climaxes towards the end of the family lunch. The film maintains its tension between the characters throughout and is visually stunning to look at.

Tomorrow is a documentary by Melanie Laurent and Cyril Dion about how communities around the world are working together to utilise local solutions to combat global problems. The film is split into chapters that cover agriculture, energy, the economy, democracy and education. I really enjoyed this film and was inspired by the different ways people are tackling these complex issues. Check it out if you get the opportunity.

Daguerrotype is a dark, atmospheric film by Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. It centers around a young guy named Jean who picks up work as a photographer's assistant. Stephane shoots life-sized Daguerrotypes, using his daughter Marie as his main model and muse. Most of the action centers around their old mansion, and Kurosawa uses music and lingering shots to build suspense and mystery so you don't know if you are seeing reality or what is in the characters' imaginations.

Monsieur Chocolat tells the true story of Rafael Padilla/Chocolat (Omar Sy), a former slave who partners with white clown George Footit (James Thierree) to develop a duo act that becomes the toast of the Nouveau Cirque in Paris during the belle-epoque. The film tackles the racism of the time and Chocolat's gradual realisation that despite the fame, being part of a minstrel routine isn't worth it if he wants to achieve equality.
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