Left – Geraldine Quinn
Geraldine Quinn's Spandex Ballet has been hosting Upfront, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s all-female gala night for three years now, and she's always good loud belty fun on this lively night of teasers by some of the strongest female performers at MICF.
Anne Edmonds was particularly strong; anyone who can have a go at indie darling Amanda Palmer and be hilarious about ghost stories gets my vote. We’re big fans of Luisa Omielan’s louche body – positive feminist comedy, although she was slightly off the mark this night, opening as she did with comments about hating foreigners. Omielan isn’t quite foreign enough herself or wasn’t on stage long enough for a certain awkwardness to dissipate.
Em Rusciano had her Dad on stage with her; we were meant to be shocked by this since she was talking about losing her virginity out the back of Bridie O’Rielly’s. Dad accompanied her on guitar as she delivered a personal version of Like a Virgin, a lame choice in this reviewer’s opinion. And she says ‘fuck’ far too often; it’s tiresome, again, as though she’s trying to shock.
Demi Lardner is cute and androgynous, same with Mae Martin. Sara Pascoe offers an accessible yet sophisticated feminist type of humour, nicely smart. Felicity Ward is strong, very funny talking about morning television and the type of make-over shows you might watch at that time of day. Jan Van de Stool does a nasty Musical Therapist who gave us some good advice in song: You’re never going to make it, get a job. I remember Geraldine Hickey years ago telling us she wasn’t a lesbian; fortunately no-one believed her. She was funny talking about lesbians having to stay friends after they break up cos otherwise she could never visit Daylesford, or Bunnings. Becky Lucas talks about her abomination doppelganger theory, and being cat-called by tradies, a low-key self-effacing shtick. Sofie Hagen is fat and proud but her stories were somewhat predictable. Urzila Carson is comfortable on stage, her sheer presence give her small detailed stories strength. We saw Celia Pacquola, we saw the delicious and decidedly unsyrupy Hot Brown Honey doing their ‘maid’ burlesque number. Nice surprises there.
Hannah Gadsby had longer than everyone else on stage with her funny deconstruction of Taylor Swift’s lyrics. She’s so very good, is our Hannah. Dare Devil Chicken Club finished up with a fairly mad sketch involving hair and more hair. Similar in tone to Tessa Waters’s Womanz or some Snuff Puppets moments; nothing you've not seen before. For my money, not as hilarious as what came before.
As ever, most comedy is less about gags and more often comprises observations and snippets from the life of an individual rather than any grappling with ideas; the personality of the performer and her delivery makes what she says amusing. Fortunately, Upfront is never lacking in personalities.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival presents
Hosted by Geraldine Quinn
Venue: Melb Town Hall | Cnr Swanston & Collins Sts, Melbourne
Date: 12 April 2016
Tickets: $31 – $44