Best of the Edinburgh Fest

Best of the Edinburgh FestNice to see you dusted off the theatre for me,” says Jason John Whitehead. This is his opening line in the show Best of the Edinburgh Fest, and he refers to the RMIT Capitol Theatre. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of attending a show at the Capitol, it is a grand theatre but has an uncanny resemblance to something constructed of “Lego and felt” (an equally eloquent description of the theatre from fellow comedian Jarlath Regan). Whitehead, Regan, and the third comedian in the line-up, Gordon Southern, are all from abroad and predictably the majority of their material involves making fun of Australians or more specifically Melbournians, and everything that can be found in between.

The show begins with a Canadian, Whitehead, dressed in black with shoulder length red hair and a crazily casual demeanour. The hilarity of his act is largely due to his brilliant imagination. He ponders such things as the endless entertainment that could be provided by Olympic athletes pumped full of drugs (he is sure that the hammer throw would be much more interesting to watch if the athletes had hooves instead of hands), and the disciplining of small and irritating children by enlisting the help of someone or something named Dan The Discipline Fairy.

Following Whitehead and the non-stop laughs he evokes so (apparently) effortlessly, is Irishman Regan. His performance seems to start off slightly laboured in comparison and his approach is fairly timid. However, his stories are familiar and more often than not endearing. Most amusing is Regan’s demonstration of his four-times-a-week role as “IT helpdesk” to his parents. Displaying some lovely timing Regan re-enacts the moment he tried over the phone to direct his father how to use the remote control for the television, all the while avoiding having to explain why the ‘8’ is located below the ‘0’.

Whilst Whitehead and Regan take great delight in poking fun at our country from an outsider’s point of view, Gordon Southern from the UK is more familiar with Australia. He is married to an Australian, a professional clown from Adelaide to be more precise, and he has taken keen note of our geography, climate and sayings. His connection of these to a certain body part is one of the rudest jokes of the night but also one of the most humorous. Southern’s performance is perhaps the most commanding of the three and he makes a real effort to involve the audience. Reflective of the overall tone of his act is the image he leaves with his audience of Australia’s head “pollie” or politician, Kevin Rudd. It is funny and disturbing in equal measures and far too rude to describe.

These three men are apparently “the hottest new talents” from the Edinburgh Festival and their appearance here in Australia is a welcome one. It is true that hearing a foreigner’s take on your own country (times three) has the potential to become a bit irksome. After all, have we not heard it all before? However this show avoids all of that by offering a combination of highly imaginative, intelligent and universal viewpoints, all the while supplying that wonderful phenomenon which is far too scarce but common to us all – laughter.

Mary Tobin presents
Best of the Edinburgh Fest
Starring Gordon Southern (UK), Jason John Whitehead (Can) & Jarlath Regan (IRE)

Venue: RMIT Capitol Theatre | 113 Swanston St (opp Town Hall), Melbourne
Dates: 2 - 26 April
Times: Wed-Sat 7.30pm, Sun 6.30pm & Tue 8pm
Duration: 75 minutes
Tickets: Full $28, Concession $25; Full Fri & Sat $32, Conc Fri & Sat $29
Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300 660 013 | at the door

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