One of the best things about the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is that there are so many different performers, from well known comedians to total newcomers. The downside is that it's virtually impossible to catch them all. On the other hand, if your show of choice happens to be booked out, or you miss your train and arrive late, there is always another show, just around the corner. You never know you may just uncover a hidden gem; if not, you are still assured of a good laugh or two, or even three.
This was our experience the other night. All geared up to catch an hour of political comedy with the inimitable Rod Quantock, we got confused over the time and missed the show. Having made the journey into the Melbourne Town Hall we decided to take pot luck with a show at the Portland Hotel. Home brewed beer in hand we climbed a flight of stairs reminiscent of the fire escape at school, complete with metal lockers, and entered a small, dark room seating about 30. There we met Geraldine Hickey, an obvious newcomer to the Festival, keen and eager to prove to herself, her family and the audience that she could hold a crowd's attention for an hour.
Hickey's humour revolves around her experience as one of six children of a truck driver. There are down sides - a bogan younger sister, the fact that she is too old to be an emo (she lusts after that hair style), and her one and only brother who merely because of his gender, stands in her way to being the apple of her father's eye. With the support of a fridge door sporting the Hickey Family Ladder (note ladder not tree) and a pot or two, Hickey regales her audience with tales about her efforts to beat her competition to the top of the ladder.
It's not such a bad thing to go to a show with no expectations. Although I had feared that the humour would be too ocker for my taste, both myself and my companion (a conservative Englishman) found quite a bit to laugh at, not least the older couple in front of us whom I was tempted to think may well have been Hickey's parents – their enthusiasm was unquenchable. Hickey managed well, even when things didn't go quite as planned, and proved herself to be very proficient not only at sculling beer, but also at creating some good laughs.
Don't be afraid to get your feet wet, I suspect there's laughter a plenty in this year's festival, some of it in the most unexpected places.
Venue: Portland Hotel - Locker Room | cnr Russell and little Collins St
Dates: 5th – 29th April (not Mondays), Previews 5th –8th April
Times: 8:00pm Sundays 7:00pm
Tickets: $19.00 Full $16 Concession, Tightarse Tuesdays, Cheap Wednesdays, Previews | $15 groups of 6 or more
Bookings: Ticketmaster - 1300 660 013 or www.comedyfestival.com.au