There’s a whole lot of skimming over the surface at comedy festivals. There’s a whole lot of first world problems – “doesnt this shit you?” or “isnt this ridiculous?”. Which is fine, it’s laughs, it’s comic relief from the daily grind. And then you forget it the next day. If that’s what you're looking for, this show isn’t for you. And if you do like intensity, don't read anything more, just go and see it.
Comedy has grown so much beyond gags and punchlines, and it’s people like Richard Gadd who are pushing the boundaries. As far from stand-up as you can get and closer to theatre, Gadd’s Edinburgh Award winning show is brilliantly dark, searingly honest and surreal.
His crisis of masculinity finds him hurling himself along on a treadmill, chased by an overzealous gorilla, with the narrative unfolding on the screen next to him or as a voiceover speaking his anxious tirade of inner-thoughts. Interspersed are tweets from social media influencers claiming that depression is just a trendy disease, and that it’s best to just “run it off”.
We all have them, those internal voices from the primal monkey brain which tie us up in knots with unnecessary overthinking. But Gadd’s monkey brain has got him in a stranglehold, after a traumatic incident 6 years ago.
Gadd has taken the idea of comedy as therapy to its literal extent. A recording of his sessions with his counsellor is played out like a kid’s TV show by two upturned mouths with googly eyes on the chin and little ludicrous plastecine hats – a bizarre juxtaposition. As he says “Jimmy Carr never suffered this much for a show”, and he’s right, both emotionally and physically. At the end he’s drenched in sweat, sucking back water and can barely open his eyes.
This is deeply personal subject matter but in a way there are elements to the show which could be cathartic for anyone with an anxious mind or inner demons.
We are grateful for Gadd.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival proudly presents
Monkey See Monkey Do
Venue: ACMI – Cube | Federation Square, Melbourne VIC
Dates: Until 23 April 2017
Tickets: $26.50 – $33.50