Annie Louey is Flirting with Death is a quirky show from Chinese-Australian performer Annie Louey. Part comedy, part narrative, it's scripted into chapters (titled and sub-titled on a screen) and begins with a re-enactment of the funeral of Louey's father. Apparently, the service went completely pear-shaped, including wrong music choices, a CD stuttering over a single lyric in Sounds of Silence and frequent interruptions from John So's (ex-Lord Mayor of Melbourne) mobile phone.
Despite her mother's superstitions, Louey has always harboured an interest and fascination with death. She recently found herself working in a funeral parlour, which, of course, means plenty of crazy stories about driving oversize hearses through traffic, people being buried with half-finished DIY projects in their coffins and services in which the mourners watch replays of the deceased's favourite sporting competitions.
Standing next to an upright coffin, Dracula-style, and behind a podium, Louey's delivery is straight, with a twinkle in her eye. Behind her prim veneer is a sneaky smile and off-beat sensibility that allows her to bring levity to a topic that people in her culture won't even talk about. The content is surprisingly upbeat, without being trite or macabre. Plus, she shares her love for rap and quick wit with eulogies.
Flirting with Death is on the niche side, but can still include broad audiences. What shines through is the thought and devotion that has gone into the project's development (it was a Moosehead Award recipient last year). It has legs outside of a comedy festival.
Saturday night was, apparently the first full house and there will certainly be many more.
2022 Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Annie Louey is Flirting With Death
Venue: Backstage Room | Melb Town Hall, 100 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 31 March – 24 April 2022
Tickets: $20 – $28