trying-hard-300The subtitle of Trying Hard, the latest show from Canadian-Australian comic Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall, is To Be or Not to Bother. I have to admit there were times during the performance when I wish he'd chosen the latter option.

It's loosely a show about someone who wants to be a comedian but can't quite find the motivation to do it. It can be broadly divided into two halves. The second is fairly traditional stand-up - more on that later.

The first half is a surreal take on how Tremblay-Birchall comes to be behind the mic. It was a promising idea, and the silliness certainly appealed to many in the audience. But it reminded me of the worst of school revues: poorly executed and lasting far too long.

Tremblay-Birchall redeems himself - to a degree - in the second half. There are occasional flashes of genuinely smart and funny absurdity.

But the delivery lets him down time after time. There are plenty of stand-ups with a laid-back air who succeed. The trouble is, it's a fine line between shambolic charm and under-rehearsed amateurism and Tremblay-Birchall doesn't always land on the right side.

At one point he talks about how he doesn't watch other comedians because he doesn't want to be unduly influenced by them. While I'm pretty sure that's not actually true, Tremblay-Birchall would do well to study his more successful counterparts for tips on how to deliver a line without fluffing it or losing the thread of the story.

There is definitely potential there, but for now there can only be one possible verdict: must try harder.


Melbourne Fringe Festival presents
Trying Hard
Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall

Venue: The Tuxedo Cat B
Dates: 4 - 13 October

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