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ManFace | Ben Russell and Jason Chatfield
Written by Simonne Michelle-Wells   
Saturday, 18 April 2009 00:42
ManFace | Ben Russell and Jason ChatfieldManFace is a great mix of musical comedy, surrealism, and stand-up wrapped around a giant dose of nerdiness. It comprises Ben Russell and Jason Chatfield who are “celebrating the inner nerd stumbling around in his orthotics and retainer”.

Russell and Chatfield (Perth-born performers) have been friends since high school and the close, easy repartee they share is part of what makes this show so much fun to watch. There’s something really joyous about watching comedians crack each other up, and these two have a strong enough grasp on their material and a strength to their partnership that they can laugh at each other and improvise with ease.

Chatfield is very natural onstage and has the sort of clean boy-band-cuteness that you never really see in comedians. Russell, on the other hand, is exactly what you expect a comedian to look like (sorry Ben, that sounds mean, and it’s supposed to be a compliment); he’s sort of little and nerdy-looking, in a quirkily handsome Jim Carey kind of way. It’s actually a juxtaposition that I think these two can make more of. You see, Chatfield just doesn’t look or sound like a nerd. True, he’s mostly the straight guy for Russell’s often surrealist flights of (funny) fancy, but still, he’s just too damn cute to be a nerd.

Chatfield is actually also an award-winning cartoonist (he’s the youngest ever artist to take over the Ginger Meggs strip) and I can’t help but think his considerable artistic skill could be put to effective use in this show.

Both Russell and Chatfield have good singing voices and the material is fresh and funny. I thought Russell’s gibbon impersonation, which may have baffled some people, was completely hilarious. His ability to speak for several minutes, getting more and more hyped up, without the apparent need for oxygen is impressive (and funny) stuff. His bit on Playschool was pure comic gold.

The nerdy aspect of ManFace will certainly appeal to some more than others, (they describe You Tube as "crack for nerds") but I have to say, seeing Russell and Chatfield ‘demonstrate’ the use of ‘The Force’ is worth the ticket price alone.

Chatfield is unfairly talented, what with his award-winning artistic, vocal and guitar playing abilities, as well as his comedic talents, all delivered in a delicious 24 year old wrapping. Russell is a comic stand-up star on the rise, of that I'm sure. Whether they’ll continue to work together I don’t know, but ManFace is well worth a look.


Ben Russell and Jason Chatfield
Manface

Venue: The Tuxedo Cat at the Nicholas Building | Level 2, 37 Swanston St, Melbourne (Licensed venue. Under 18s must be accompanied by a Parent or Legal Guardian)
Dates: 14 - 25 April
Times: Tue - Sat 8pm
Duration: 50 minutes
Prices: Full $16, Concession $13
Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300 660 013 | at the door

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As good as another great Perth musical duo, Luke and Wyatt. I'd call Ben nuggety.
Cameron , April 17, 2009

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