Man I hate reviewing stand up comedy. I'd rather review zebra crossings than review stand up comedy. I mean... it's some person standing there with a microphone telling funny stories, and and they're either funny or they're not funny, or they're really really funny, or they're really really not funny. That's all. How the hell are you expected to come up with a few hundred words when this is basically what it comes down to? I hate reviewing stand up comedy so much that this it for me; this is the only comedy show in the entire MICF that I'm reviewing.
I'm happy to say that Luke Leonard is a funny guy. He is an engaging story teller who draws on his life's ups and downs (mostly downs) to share a little bit of joy with us. To make us laugh at his adversity... it makes him a kind of comedy magician. The stories he tells us, at their heart, aren't really funny stories. And yet he has us laughing along with him. He tells us of his broken relationships, job loss, the “cancery” death of his mother, his homelessness... the miserable list goes on. But this is the thing... there he is on stage, looking pretty dashing, looking pretty happy, getting some joy of his own in sharing these tales of woe with us. He made it. He made it through all this misery and he's somehow getting this room full of strangers to laugh along with him. See? Comedy magician. The man can turn a dog turd into a rose.
A little secret here: I know Luke Leonard personally. We're not really friends, but we have friends in common, and as his stories unfold, I recognise these friends and their real life relationships and conversations. He's not making this shit up. He really is sharing his life hardships with us. I can only assume that the other characters in his stories – the mother, the criminal older brother who delivers the most hilariously woeful eulogy ever – are all real. And I'm a sucker for this kind of thing. I really admire someone who can turn adversity into something positive. Another kind of story teller might come up with truly dramatic stories with this source material (I'm also a sucker for serious drama), but Luke Leonard has decided to turn everything on its head and shine some light into the darkness. Kudos, and thank you. Total respect.
By all means check out your favourite internationals during the comedy festival, but remember to check out some home-grown talent too. And maybe look past the commercial names with all their shiny television exposure and check out some of the lesser known names. Get on down to The Imperial and check out Mirth; if you have a heart and a sense of humour, I think you'll like this show.
The Renegades Present
Venue: Imperial Hotel | Cnr Bourke & Spring Streets, Melbourne
Dates: 28 March – 22 April 2018