What a great title – I can’t count the number of times I’ve been amazed at my kids’ knowledge of some issue or classic movie, only to be told: “I saw it on The Simpsons.”
As an animated sit-com ostensibly aimed at children but with decidedly adult undertones and plenty of social commentary, The Simpsons has covered most issues and elements of popular culture over its 27-year reign, and has captured a broad audience as a result.
Yianni promises “This show is about how The Simpsons has embiggened my life. Whether you’re a Simpsons tragic or just like the show, it’ll be fun-diddly-un!”
Yianni, a Melburnian now based in London, is surely a happy tragic; he could enter Mastermind with the Simpsons as his specialist subject and would surely beat all comers; he can lend his excellent impersonation skills to virtually any character, and pick a quote to suit any situation. Only Simpsons’ quotes were allowed as heckles and he fielded all comers with quick-fire replies; this is when he’s in his elements, when he clicks with a fellow nerd in the audience and the sparks fly.
The worry is keeping non-nerds entertained. Especially when projected images form a large part of the show and are hard to see if you’re more than three rows’ back.
He admits it’s a tough gig pitching a show at a broad range of fan-dom; what makes his mates laugh might only confuse his mum.
Still he gives it a red-hot go.
Finding an Aussie equivalent to the Shelbyville/Springfield rivalry was always going to get some laughs, and showing how The Simpsons can teach you all you need to know about politics was particularly timely. The Tony Abbott observations bordered on genius.
But it felt like he alienated sections of his audience early on and had to work hard to bring them back on side.
Only minutes into his show Yianni has broken his audience down into age groups and shown amazement that anyone in their 20s would be fans: “The show started before they were even born!”
Has he not noticed the re-runs? My 20-something neighbours harrumphed and crossed their arms.
Next up was a short quiz: fill in the missing word from these Simpsons sketches.
It’s fair to say only one or two people in the room get all four, and we’re all invited to have a chuckle at David up the back who got zero.
Divide and conquer can work in a comedy show if the audience is then brought back together with some shared laughs, and Yianni does have some fun facts and interesting observations of myriad characters, storylines and episodes, most of which worked well enough.
But yet, despite watching The Simpsons for decades, I couldn’t quite shake the sensation that I was a parent at a teenager’s party, never quite getting the in-jokes and references.
A List Entertainment presents
The Simpsons Taught Me Everything I Know
Venue: Downstairs Lounge at The Grand Mercure Hotel, 195 Swanston Street.
Dates: 5 – 17 April 2016
Tickets: $18 – $22
Bookings: 1300 660 013 | www.comedyfestival.com.au