Melbourne Comedy Festival RoadshowLeft – Smart Casual. Cover – Harley Breen

The thunderous weather conditions didn't seem to affect the mood of the audience at this now regular week-long comedy gig at the Maj, though it was somewhat of a trial to actually get to the theatre.

Perth seems to have a limitless appetite for stand-up. There are  clubs and many pub nights per week dedicated to this entertainment genre, as well as a new highly successful Perth Comedy Festival which recently packed crowds into various Mt Lawley venues.

This year's offering was a mixed bag.

The MC was the seemingly inexhaustible effervescent youngster Joel Creasey. He played the camp card to the absolute limit and totally won the audience over. Bouncing/mincing about in alarmingly tight jeans he mock propositioned a front row audience member (there with his fiancé). This Perth-born comic threw some wonderful one-liners at us and praised the audience constantly for "getting them".

Bad driving: "My car is so bruised it looks as if it's been dating Matthew Newton."

In sharp contrast to the effervescent Creasey, David Quirk was almost languorous in his presentation. His laconic shaggy dog storytelling style was a bit of a surprise to audiences more attuned to a speedier style of comedy. He hit the mark with some amusing tales of his former life in retail. His reflections on marriage were also quite witty, but I think he grossed out a goodly proportion of the audience with the 'swim up a river of shit' anecdote. I can't put the whole quote in here because it gets even more alarming and what's more the point of the analogy was puzzling as well as unfunny.

Smart Casual were a pleasant surprise. Plaid shirts and jeans set the tone for the assumed names of Fletcher Jones and Roger Smith to take the stage. In a completely relaxed style they worked a number of light musical numbers and banter including a funny one dealing with appalling modern name choices for offspring. Step-brothers (in life as well as comedy) they explored their different fathers Alonso – Roger and Pierre – Fletcher, in an incredibly physical (on the part of Fletcher) memorial to these two recently deceased fictional fathers. Hilarious and well received.

I enjoyed visiting USA comedian, Marina Franklin's set. Again, another performer completely at her ease on stage and unhurried. Her observations on racial stereotypes were very funny indeed. Growing up in a white neighbourhood and moving (too late) to a black one gave her plenty of comedic fodder to work with. It will be a long time before I think about Michelle Obama in quite the same way. Her facility for accents was excellent and her mime skills in the routine about telling a mother how not to speak to her child were outstandingly clever.

The top of the bill was Harley Breen, last seen by me as a promising newcomer in the 2008 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow. He was promising then but what a development! Highly physical comedy and wonderful characterisations have become his trademarks. His set largely covered domestic life with all its exciting twists and turns. The wife, the girl friends' night out, the pregnancy, the "natural" birthing process and the new father's retreat (Bunnings!). He was excellent and had the audience in the palm of his hand.

There were a lot of free seats in the house last night. I asked five sets of patrons and four hadn't paid for their seats.  The stalls were full but there was only a smattering in the dress circle and the upper circle was closed; a marked contrast to its early days when every seat in the house was full on every night. But as I said there is a lot more comedy available to patrons now in Perth than in years gone by.

I overheard an audience member remark to his girlfriend that it wasn't as good a show as the last time they attended.

I would beg to differ.

It was nowhere as hectic in pace as some of the past Roadshows but there were some terrific moments once you adjusted to the individual styles of the artists.

Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow

Venue: His Majesty's Theatre, Perth
Date/Time: 8.00pm June 20 – 24, 2012
Tickets: $49.90
Bookings: BOCS ticketing 9484 1133 |

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