Tuesday, April 17, 2018

MICF- Fern Brady and Alex Edelman

It was Tightarse Tuesday again at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and I booked in to see another two shows tonight featuring comics from overseas. First I made my way down to ACMI for Scottish comedian Fern Brady's show Suffer, Fools! Fern did a set of stand-up and told stories about her life, including her relationships, time at university (including paying for her degree by being a stripper), and jobs as a cook at a halfway house and journalist. It was an honest hour long show with a funny ending.

Next I headed up to the Greek Centre for American comic Alex Edelman's Barry nominated show Just For Us. This is the second time I've seen Alex perform and the main thread of this show is the rise of antisemitism in Trump's America and Alex's decision to attend a white supremacist meeting in an apartment in New York. Alex expertly tells the details of that meeting interwoven with other stories such as working with Stephen Fry, encountering Prince William at the BAFTAs, and his brother competing for Israel in skeleton at the recent Winter Olympics in South Korea. The show is very well written and provides some interesting insights on the rise of intolerance and hatred in today's society.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

MICF- Josh Glanc and Andrew McClelland

For tonight's MICF shows first I headed down to the Melbourne Town Hall to see Australian comedian Josh Glanc's show Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chamedian. Josh's show was a series of different sketches complete with costume changes (some of them quite revealing). The funniest bits were his Behind The Music take on the rise of the Danish Eurodance band Aqua of "Barbie Girl" fame, and a French mime having a crisis of artistry. There was a lot of audience participation in the show, and a recurring commercial skit with an American footballer was more distracting to me due to him naming the team the Cincinnati Falcons than using a raw fish.

Next I ventured down to the Malthouse Theatre to see Australian comedian Andrew McClelland's latest festival show A Seated Walking Tour of Western Europe. In typical Andrew style he opened with a little musical number. It was a fun show as he used Google Street View to take us on a low budget tour through Europe. Parts of the audience were assigned different travel groups, which were referenced throughout the show as we did certain tourist activities. The tour itself led to some unexpected adventures and side trips along the journey, but we covered quite a lot of ground in an hour.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

MICF- DeAnne Smith and Sam Simmons

For tonight's Tightarse Tuesday I booked into two Melbourne International Comedy Festival shows. First up was Canadian comedian Deanne Smith's show Worth It at the Greek Centre. Before the show officially started she came out to admit that the show would not be about money as described in the flyer. Instead it focused on her observations on life, women's equality and tackling her fears as woven through a story about pit bulls. She engaged with the audience and gave a loose and funny set, although I think her show last year was tighter.

Next I headed down to the Arts Centre for Australian comedian Sam Simmons' brilliantly titled show Radical Women of Latin American Art, 1960 - 1985. While the show isn't really about what's in the title, the start and ending are inspired about an incident he observed outside the museum in LA after seeing that exhibition. The show itself is cleverly paced and organised around a series of impressions which are proceeded by a voice over of someone saying "This is an impression of a man...." There was a lot of audience participation, some singing and dancing, and a string of absurd observational jokes which made for a tense yet entertaining hour.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

MICF- Kate McCartney & Kate McLennan In Konversation

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is currently in full swing and this afternoon at the Comedy Theatre I attended the Q&A Kate McCartney & Kate McLennan In Konversation, which was facilitated by Benjamin Law. The Kates have worked in comedy for years and are best known for their mock cooking series The Katering Show and Get Krack!n, their satire of morning talk shows.

During this hour long discussion we got a peak behind the scenes as they discussed their creative process for writing their shows. After having seen one of their Get Krack!n characters, Helen Bidou (Anne Edmonds) live last night in her own comedy festival show, they joked how depressing it was to see something you've be created be taken further and funnier than you ever imagined. In the era of #MeToo they emphasised the importance of having a diverse writing room so that one person is not having to represent their entire gender/race, and ensuring that things were safe and fun on set for cast and crew. From a casting perspective they said they are committed to diversity and actively try not to cast white people unless it's needed for the punchline of the joke to work.

They showed a clip of once of the most daring bits from this past season of Get Krack!n, which was an Aboriginal man getting the Kates to "eat my black shit for reconciliation." They also discussed the filming of the infamous Katering Show episode that featured Kate McLennan's actual placenta (but thankfully they did not cook it or eat it). It was an insightful hour listening to two of Australia's great comedic voices, and will be interesting to see what they create next.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Stories Of Australian Music: Can I Have Your Autograph?

The Australian Music Vault at the Arts Centre Melbourne is hosting a series of public talks, and tonight I went along to the second one titled Can I Have Your Autograph? which discussed the role of fans and fan communities. Facilitated by writer and journalist Jenny Valentish, the panel consisted of my friend Peter Green (PR and fan club for Crowded House, Split Enz and Skyhooks), Lynne Trute (Nick Cave collector and fan), Owen Lambourn (co-founder of the Kylie Krew fan community for Kylie Minogue) and Holly Pereira (writer and assistant booker at Howler).

The panel discussion was quite interesting and covered a variety of topics. They started with discussing their earliest fan memories and then how they became involved with the artists they work for or support. There were interesting stories of encounters with fans (and how to spot the scary ones), as well as the importance of the fan community and the role it plays in their own lives as they've developed personal friendships. I know for me that my own fandom of Crowded House and the Finns has allowed me to travel around the world and meet people I wouldn't have otherwise become friends with. Peter Green and Lynne Trute also talked about their extensive curator and archival roles for artists to document their musical histories. I liked how Peter noted that each band usually has one member who acts as the historian for the band. Overall it was a really interesting hour long discussion and just confirmed that fan communities are pretty similar across the board.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

French Film Festival 2018

It's once again time for the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival in Melbourne, which is running from 28 February - 27 March 2018. Over the past couple of weeks I've been attending a number of films both solo and with friends. Here is what I ended up seeing this year:

Rock'N Roll is an exaggerated satire based on elements of the real lives of its stars director and actor Guillaume Canet and his partner actress Marion Cotillard. Canet is shooting a movie when he realises his younger co-stars don't consider him as young and hip as he used to be. This sets him off on a midlife crisis and downward spiral of partying and and trying to make himself look younger (which is taken to an absolute and comedic extreme). The film features a who's who of French cinema all making cameos as themselves and has some laugh out loud moments throughout.

Number 1 is a drama that explores the status and influence of women in the corporate world in France. Emmanuelle (Emmanuelle Devos), a member of the board of directors of an energy firm, gets approached by an influential network of women who want to put her forward to be head of France's largest water company. The film looks at the white male power structures and the glass ceilings women face when trying to advance their careers to top leadership positions.

Problemos is a hilarious post-apocalyptic comedy about a couple that goes to visit the wife's friend on a commune for the weekend, but never gets to leave because of a global pandemic that is wiping out the human race. Somehow all of these different personalities have to try and work together to create the utopian society they've been dreaming of, but of course things don't quite work out as they would have hoped.

120 BPM (Beats Per Minute) is a film set in Paris in the early-1990s documenting how ACT UP Paris fought against the government and pharmaceutical companies for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. It shows the lives of various members of the collective, in particular the relationship between Nathan (Arnaud Valois) and Sean (Nahuel Perez Biscayart), who is living with HIV.

The Return Of The Hero is a funny comedy starring Jean Dujardin as Captain Neuville, a member of Napoleon's army and casanova who gets engaged to Pauline, the younger sister of Elizabeth (Melanie Laurent) from an aristocratic family. Elizabeth can see through Captain Neuville, and when he gets immediately called off to war but never writes Pauline as promised, Elizabeth steps in to lift her sister's spirits with heroic tales from the battlefield. When Captain Neuville shows up in town a few years later, all sorts of hijinks ensue.

Gauguin is a period biopic that focuses on post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin's (Vincent Cassel) years living in Tahiti in the late 1800s. He left behind his Danish wife and five children to travel half way around the world and be inspired by a new environment. Poor and sick he befriends a local French doctor who tries to look after him, and also starts a relationship with a young Polynesian girl Tehura (Tuhei Adams), who becomes a bit of a muse for his works. The film is told from Gauguin's colonialist viewpoint, which makes it hard to have much sympathy for him, especially the way he treats Tehura towards the end of the film.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Stefano's Restaurant Mildura

This afternoon a group of us flew up to Mildura, located in the north western part of Victoria along the border with New South Wales, for a work meeting we are having tomorrow. Since today is my director Sean's birthday we decided to celebrate by having dinner at Stefano's Restaurant in the cellar of the Mildura Grand Hotel. Owned and run by chef Stefano de Pieri, he cooks Italian food using seasonal and fresh produce.

We had the five course Italian style set menu for $99 per person. This degustation started with fried calamari with a light rocket salad. Next we had a beautiful spinach souffle with pesto and truffle oil. It was full of flavor and my favorite dish of the night. The third course was a simple pork ravioli with a cream sauce.

Our fourth and main dish was a perfectly cooked rump steak with green beans, very flavorful roasted potatoes and an almond puree. Even after these four courses I didn't feel too full as the serving sizes were just right and they spaced out each dish so you could enjoy it. For dessert we had a really lovely vanilla custard in a cinnamon flavored small filo pastry bowl with a fresh piece of mango on top. As a bonus they brought us out some handmade chocolates to finish off the night.

Overall it was a really tasty meal with excellent service in the unique surrounds of the historic cellar restaurant. If you are ever in Mildura I would recommend eating there or at any of the other venues Stefano runs in town.
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