Jeez Louise Address: Rachel Berger The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is over for another year. Whilst Melburnians have been treated to a feast of laughter I wonder if we are any the wiser about what it is that makes us laugh. Sure we all know when something or someone is funny but how do you make comedy happen? And what do you need to know if you are a young woman intent on being a successful stand-up comedian? Last week's inaugural Jeez Louise Address promised to provide some answers to these questions and, with Rachel Berger in charge, lots of laughter. We weren't disappointed.

Drawing on her 28 years in the business Berger offered numerous tips on how to 'make it' as a stand-up. Motivation comes first and hers came from seeng the change in her parents when they laughed. Determined to discover what it is that makes people laugh, she managed to destroy many of her parent's comedy records by dropping the stylus on to them in an effort to find that special moment before laughter.

Motivation is one thing but it is only the beginning. Courage and hard work are essential for both survival and success in the business. In 1986 Berger somehow found her way onto the stage at the Last Laugh. Young and confident she was thrilled when her send up of primal therapy had her audience in fits of laughter. Only afterwards did she learn that her audience had included a bunch of psychiatrists having a night out following a conference. Her second show brought her to earth, she died that night, and for the following nine nights, but she learned more about herself and her audience.

In order to keep going, to learn from your failures as much as from your successes, you have to have faith in yourself and what you have to offer. Instead of copying others you need to discover your own distinctive voice. You need to work hard at your craft and be prepared to take risks, daring to reach out beyond your comfort zone. Working as an MC at a lunchtime strip club proved to be a very useful experience for Berger and the story provided lots of laughs for the audience.

Whilst the basic ingredients of comedy are a narrative, a surprise and a punchline nothing works unless you manage to create a real connection with your audience. You need to give something of yourself and you need to recognise and use the power of the microphone. This 'weapon' provides both a protection for comedian and audience and a bridge between the two.

Berger's address was very funny and full of useful advice for those who wish to stand alone on stage and make others laugh. It's great to know that established comedians are willing to give so generously of their knowledge and experience to support and encourage emerging artists.

Berger's performance confirmed yet again just how talented she is as a stand-up comedian and made all those present understand why it is that the Australian has described her as “dominatrix extraordinaire of audiences”. It also proved, if anyone ever doubted the fact, that women can be, and are, very funny.


Melbourne International Comedy Festival presents
Jeez Louise Address: Rachel Berger

Venue: Melb Town Hall - Powder Room | Cnr Swanston & Collins Sts, Melbourne
Date: 16 April, 2015
Visit: www.comedyfestival.com.au


Most read features

The Umbilical Brothers

You don’t need to flex your visual imagination muscle in the latest show from The Umbilical Brothers. Because two green screens, a lot of cameras, special effects, computer power and an onstage tech wizard named “Doug” do it for you.

Most read reviews

Lighten Up | Tom Gleeson

Master of the deadpan, harsh host of Hard Quiz, and heartless interrogator on Hard Chat, making audiences squirm as much as his victims – Tom Gleeson uses blunt-force trauma as his comedy schtick.

Scandal! A Reflection on Essendon’s Doping Saga: The Musical? | Kit Richards

It doesn’t matter how much you know or care about the legality of the Essendon Football Club supplements program in 2013 – it won’t stop you enjoying this original and entertaining saga, because Kit Richards has a talent for making otherwise dull stories fun and interesting. And for writing damn good songs.

Glengarry Glen Ross | New Theatre

Real estate is just dirt, when you boil it right down, and Mamet’s pedlars of property sure are dirty.

Easter at The Piano Mill 2021

Piano Mill’s success has been due to it offering an alternative means of experiencing fresh, original music in the spirit of a sonic adventure staged outdoors.

Chatty Cathy | Nath Valvo

Valvo entertains the crowd with well crafted jokes about life, love and champagne.

Most read news

Vale Taryn Fiebig

Multi award-winning Australian music theatre and opera star Taryn Fiebig, who made Prince Charles cry with her artistry, passed away in Sydney last night from ovarian cancer, aged 49.

MTC to premiere Digital Theatre

Audiences around Australia will have the opportunity to see Melbourne Theatre Company productions direct from stage to screen with the premiere of MTC Digital Theatre – Friday 16 April 2021.

2020 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards

Andrew Myer AM, Chairman, Sidney Myer Fund has announced the winners of the 2020 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards.