Bella Green is Charging For It

It would appear that the daily mainstream media has gotten sex work all wrong. Well, we all mostly knew that already; the Murdochracy in which we live works pretty hard to cast certain groups of people in some pretty harsh lights. The accepted theory about sex work is that it empowers people. It facilitates a transfer of power from the traditional wielder to a previously marginalised minority. Bella Green insists we’ve got it all wrong, what’s empowering about this line of work is gaining the ability to sleep in until midday whilst also being able to spend $7 on a punnet of blueberries in the middle of winter. Y’know, she’s actually pretty spot-on with that logic.

Green started as a dancer at 18, and progressed to other disciplines of the industry – dominatrix, escort, peep shows, brothels, nice strip clubs, bad strip clubs, gentrified strip clubs – and has gained a pretty extensive knowledge about the do’s, don’ts, and really don’ts about a pretty taboo topic, for both patrons and employees. Like, for example, how if a person asks a sex worker about what’s the freakiest/nastiest/weirdest thing they’ve ever done, in under ten minutes that patron will undoubtedly ask to do some seriously freaky/nasty/weird activity. Which, if they’re willing to pay appropriately & not be a douchebag, can absolutely be negotiated, because for Green, this is just a job. Why not do the easiest thing in the shortest amount of time for the most money? Again, she’s making some pertinent points. Having worked ‘real’ jobs for six years, she’s happy to compare conditions, and maintains that working in a call centre for a bank definitely comes dead last.

A lot of the humour is derived from the frankness of Green, and the ease at which she talks about and deconstructs her day job. There’s a couple of laugh-out-loud moments, but the pure stand-up portions of the show probably aren’t as strong as the unfiltered observations and commentary of her industry, being as candid, blunt, and thoroughly engaging as she is, and having discovered her interest in ‘these sorts of things’ early on, any stigma is long gone. She’s also not scared of drawing attention to the wild injustices that surround it, the criminalisation of sex workers and the opprobrium levelled at those that pay for their services. A comparison between her line of work and a doctor conducting an STI test pithily asks why there isn’t an ocean of pearls being clutched for the unfortunate gynaecologist.

Look, sex is fun. Sex is funny. Being a judgey little schmuck and maintaining outdated stereotypes about these things is decidedly unfunny. Bella Green’s here to set you straight.

 

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Bella Green is Charging For It is on at Gluttony’s Masonic Lodge until March 1

For more information and to buy tickets please click here

Boys Taste Better with Nutella

I can’t recall laughing at having cold Macca’s fries thrown at me, and then instantly being floored by a stark, brutal admission, so a tip of the propeller beanie to you, Caitlin Hill and Peter Wood. I mean, I’ve definitely had fries chucked at me a few times after I’ve said something inappropriate, and on one particular occasion someone lobbed a half-eaten kebab at me, but the 1-2 combination of an amusing dance routine and a rather blunt statement? That’s definitely new.

Boys Taste Better with Nutella is a brief, and at times sharp, examination of Aggy’s (Hill) love life and Frederick’s (Wood) sexuality. For Aggy it’s a revolving door of manipulative scumbags that inevitably break her heart, whilst for Frederick it’s coming to terms with who he actually might be, and what he’s allergic to. Punctuated by silly dance numbers and throwaway pop-culture referencing one-liners, both characters find replacements for their respective struggles: Aggy’s best friend Nutella masks the latest bloke that she’s changed herself completely for, and Frederick takes solace in producing Mukbang videos and McDonald’s fries.

Both are addicted to the instant gratification that they find in each of their vices; Aggy either falls for a guy she believes will love and adore her unconditionally, or she gets to inhale Nutella, and Frederick gets immediate acceptance, likes, and comments on his videos, or he gets to mainline fries like a junkie. Of course, both characters have a genesis for their coping mechanisms, which gets explored through absurd and exaggerated situations, with Wood often playing a range of supporting characters to Hill’s leading role.

Whilst it’s pretty low-hanging fruit – millennials learning to accept and better themselves without having to rely on motivational Instagram posts of profoundly banal quotes over idyllic mountains – Boys Taste Better With Nutella doesn’t pull any punches, and gets pretty confrontational with the topics it brings up. Yeah, it’s ludicrous and stupid but it’s clever and quite poignant at the same time. Wood and Hill ham it up whilst giving serious commentary on the increasing isolation and lack of identity that’s come about with modern hyper-connectivity. Their slick comedic timing means both bounce effectively off each other, and their evident talents create a rather enjoyable show.

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Boys Taste Better with Nutella is showing until February 23

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here

A J Holmes: Yeah, But Not Right Now

The 10pm slot in Gluttony means that the crowd is varied in the demographic and levels of sobriety. The cosy tent was filled with laughter, singing, and playful banter with the crowd throughout the show.

Previously featured on Broadway in the hit show The Book of Mormon, AJ Holmes serenades the audience with his angelic voice, enthusiastic piano playing, a guitar, and a loop pedal.

Gloriously reminiscent of high-school musical theatre, Yeah, But Not Right Now has it all: awkwardness, validation tension, and overconfidence galore. Sit back while Holmes sings you stories about horrible things with a smile on his face, or joyful things in a sulk. This one man show conveys the highs and lows of showbiz, dating apps, and just being in your 20s.

AJ Holmes opens up about his grandma, his life on Broadway, his Facebook-posting mother, and his revelations along the way. I found myself laughing with sympathy, awkwardness, and sentimentality in this unique show.

Uncomfortably intimate at times, the show spans an hour of deep, and not so deep, soul gazing at AJ’s life: a kaleidoscope of joy, love, epiphanies, eroticism, and a riot of laughs. Aimed at an audience in their 20s and above, I found myself relating to every word with a knowing chuckle.

A musical born out of procrastination, this show is for any procrastinator, Casanova, wanna-be-actor or chronic over sleeper.

I give this show a four out of five stars, because I haven’t seen anything that left me grinning throughout and with an echo of that laughter pinching my cheeks hours later.

 


Words by Sarah Ingham

Yeah, But Not Right Now is playing at Gluttony until March 15

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here

All Growed Up

Watson comes out on to the stage brandishing a fine bottle of gin, sporting a leopard-print cape and a beard to rival Ned Kelly, and launches into a staccato, rambunctious soliloquy. At 25, he got engaged. Might’ve gone all the way, picked out names for the kids, bought a house, lock, stock, the whole lot. It’s funny, he muses aloud whilst dispensing shots of gin – note to self, sit front and centre for future Zach Watson shows – how he’s ended up miles from that.

On the surface, All Growed Up is Watson’s musings on how it feels to be 33 and clawing back from the windswept par-6 that was 2019 for him. Having Evel Knievel’d himself over a planter box (that’s his story and he’s sticking to it), he shattered his wrist requiring a few month’s whack of workcover and some prescription narcotics, and the introspection that creeps in when you’ve only got the two cats that your housemates have adopted to talk to. See, by 33, his old man was married with kids and a house, and it vexed him; where was his high-school sweetheart with a meal plan? His three kids with ludicrous names? His bricklaying job in a quiet country town? How did he get here? Where is that large automobile? Watson’s debut Fringe show last year was The Zachelor, about his attempts to move on from the aforementioned fiancée and find love, so it’s only natural that All Growed Up is the realisation that adhering to some universally mandated syllabus really isn’t the solution.

Part ode to his father, part love-letter to the fine art of blazing one’s own trail, Watson clearly revels in stripping himself bare, the self-deprecation leading to the acceptance that if you’re happy telling jokes, slinging drinks, and going on the occasional surfing trip with some good mates whilst sinking biblical amounts of Cooper’s finest, then how can that be a bad thing?

Delivered with a sort of nervous energy, Watson won’t have you rolling in the aisles, he’s not that sort of comic. Some people just won’t get him, the dishevelled shirt, the wild pogoing from one topic to the other, the gleeful smile when describing his ex-boss going bankrupt, but you ain’t gotta like him. He’s Big Lebowski’s The Dude, the affable anti-hero, and really, that’s pretty alright by me.

 

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

All Growed Up is playing at Rhino Room until February 22

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here

Interview: Tom Walker / Jonathan Pie

“No, no, no, absolutely not.” Tom Walker’s just broken my heart. I’ve put to him that he could consider taking his character Jonathan Pie to Westminster, or maybe even Number 10. Personally, I think he’d be better suited to Canberra, where he could potentially form a heavyweight tag-team of Australian politics with Penny Wong. “No, I’ve got this tour, and that wraps up in a few months, and then the diary is free.” Right in time for the 2020 US Elections, I tell him. “Oh god yeah, you’re right.”

Thing is though, he’s a bit sick of the constant supply of box office gold that keeps getting served up. “I’d really like it to level off a bit now. I’ve had my fun. When I started out the world wasn’t so strange and now we’ve got Trump and Brexit, and it’s time to swing back towards a bit of normality, you’d hope. Trump sort of set the standard where he can now seemingly get away with anything and everyone looks at him and tries to emulate him. It’s worked, our politics is now full of lies, it’s madness, isn’t it? And it’s really difficult to satirise Trump, he does it for you! All you have to do is read out his tweets, he can’t even spell!” Walker sounds resigned when he glumly predicts another term for Trump, but at least the source material will still be top shelf.

One thing that he’s loving is ‘Scotty from Marketing’. “It’s such a great insult. It’s so to the point, isn’t it? It’s great.” Allegedly Morrison utterly detests this nickname. “Good! I’m glad.” The topic of politicians giving themselves nicknames irks him, though. “It’s mad, isn’t it, we’ve got BoJo, but we’ve always just called him Boris, instead of Mr. Johnson, and it makes him seem friendly, and nice, when he’s far from it. I mean, Boris is a prick, isn’t he? He’s this bumbling bloody affable idiot, when he’s anything but. He’s a dangerous right-wing populist.”

Walker as Pie doesn’t mince words, he’s quite happy to make sure everyone knows about the elephant failing to wear a lampshade in the corner – regardless of whether the elephant is left or right, liberal or conservative – and so the degree of separation between him and Pie is welcome. “It’s quite nice to have that. The majority of people come up to me and say, ‘Hey Jonathan!’ it’s absolutely fine, I quite like it. I find it a bit weird when people go ‘Hey Tom’, like, how do you know my name?” plus it gives him a bit of freedom, he’s always got that ‘it’s not me, it’s Jonathan – he’s a character’ get-out-of-jail-free card, but you can tell that he knows his words carry some weight; 600,000 subscribers on YouTube, over 67 million views, a few live tours, but everything has a shelf life. He admits he’s yet to make that solid jump to mainstream though, and so Pie might be taking a sabbatical. In a field where making it to prime-time is pretty rare, a self-described underdog punching above his weight deserves a title fight.

 


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Jonathan Pie: The Fake News Tour, February 24th at the Royalty Theatre, Angas Street

For more information and to book tickets, click here

Evan Desmarais: Pizza & Ice-cream

One of the worst things, the absolute worst things ever, is peeling back the foil top of a cup of instant noodles and it tears awkwardly and you’ve got to sit there picking it off for twenty minutes, and it gets stuck under your nails or it just won’t come off and now the noodles are cold and everything’s terrible. Or discovering that you’re now lactose intolerant and can no longer enjoy two of your favourite things in life, pizza and ice-cream. Or the girl you love  and adore has met someone else and she’s genuinely happy. Actually, no, that’s the undisputed worst thing ever.

About five years ago, Desmarais discovered he could no longer get stuck into a family tub of neapolitan ice-cream and enjoy it, and it got him thinking, what else could he no longer do? What else did he have to reckon with? But, just like the difficult second album gets followed by the god-awful experimental reggae third or fourth album, he met a girl. She was lovely. She had a weird Australian name, just like half of the country. They didn’t last. As far as a discography goes, this rivals The Vines’ Melodia for a drop-off.

He ended up in Manchester where he set about making new friends in the most efficient way possible – by going to bars and talking to the bartender where they have to be mates with you – which led to being out-bro’d by a newly-single girl testing the greatest bad theory there is; that the best way to get over someone is get under someone else. Or next to in a barroom toilet cubicle. Look, when life delivers you a swift kick in the slats, what’re you gonna do? You’re gonna milk that for comedy, man. And rightly so.

As you’ve probably guessed, Kierkegaard this is not. It’s self-described as dick jokes with heart by a balding man in a backwards cap, but some people like to laugh at swearing, yeast infections, and at themselves. The only drawback is that it’s a bit of a niche market, and accordingly, individual results may vary. As good as he is at charming a crowd – think Blur’s Parklife rather than Melodia here, as the ‘with heart’ bit is a gross understatement – it helps if the audience is on the same boat. Desmarais will pick at the foil still stuck to the cup, and even if it doesn’t fully come off, the noodles are still pretty damn tasty.

4 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Evan Desmarais: Pizza & Ice-cream is on at Gluttony until March 15

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here

Jon Brooks: Selfies From Chernobyl

Jon Brooks got old, man. Ok, that’s probably a little mean, but he’d be the first to lament about the passage of time and the… seasoning that comes with it. Y’see, when you get old, and you inevitably reflect on the things that used to minor bugbears now really annoy you those things tend to stick in your mind, and after a while you’ve just gotta roll up your sleeves, spit on your hands, and hoist the black flag.

When Brooks makes an observation, he tends to deliver it like an annoyed heavyweight UFC fighter looking to exploit your glass jaw – and he hits like grandad’s homemade Grappa. He’s now the wrong side of 40, and with that comes changes, and they’re not always great; accidentally & mysteriously breaking his back last May – he’s still not sure how it happened, only that it very much did painfully happen – had him laid-up for five months with only the internet for company and has allowed him to really define things he absolutely detests – book people, social media spats between Z-List pseudo-celebrities, Brussel Sprouts, Scott Morrison, the light at the end of the tunnel that seems to be getting a little brighter every day – a booty call in your late-20s is a thing of joyous wonder that you excitedly prepare for, but in your 40s? For Brooks it’s now become more a matter of life and death, once more in the breach, dear friends, as what once was second-nature now requires a last will & testament is prepared and left on the bedside table. Stuff changes, and that’s scary, man.

Being a veteran of twelve years as a stand-up comedian, despite a hiatus of a few years, means that Brooks is instantly at ease on the stage, with an effortless cadence and delivery that underscores his show. Occasionally the jokes fall a little flat, and where a rookie would falter, Brooks squares up, dodges the jab, and suckers you with a left that you didn’t see coming… the caustic, acerbic, battle-scared pro doing what he’s really quite good at.

4 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Jon Brooks: Selfies From Chernobyl is running from February 18 – 22 at Rhino Room.

For more information and to purchase tickets click here.

Confessions Of A 59 Year-Old Fringe Virgin

Hello. My name is WeeStu Campbell and I am a stand-up comedian.

If the rhythm and cadence of that sentence rings familiar, it is no coincidence. Both it, and the more familiar AA introduction, points to a deep-seated addiction.

Stand up comedy is the hard stuff. Once it gets into your system it is hard to shake. For 59 years I was abstinent, sober if you will, from stand up. Until that is, one fateful Monday night in July 2019 when, at the urging of my pushers, I got up on stage at OneMic Stand open mic comedy at the Rhino Room in Adelaide. The stage lights blinded me, the laughter intoxicated me and from that moment I was hooked. Now, if I go more than three days without a fix I am in withdrawal. Believe me, it’s no laughing matter.

Now I’m about to take my addiction to a new, higher level. I’m hitting up new pushers and suppliers, sorry promoters and venues. I’m upping the frequency and intensity of my doses. I’m going to run with a much bigger, far wilder crew of performance addicts. I’m seeking the mainline, the purest shit. I’m about to embark on my first ever Adelaide Fringe as a true user: a registered artist.

I write this on Monday February 10. Opening night still four sleeps away. But, today the journey begins. FringeWorks, the administrative hub of the Fringe is open, in the Fringe Club building on the corner of Frome and Grenfell. That means I can get my hand on the ticket to all my Fringe rushes. The artist’s pass.

For the moment FringeWorks, like any good dealer, is hidden from prying eyes. The club doesn’t open until Friday. No one advertises FringeWorks. It’s a secret for us performance junkies. The Fringe signs aren’t out yet. I enter the building cautiously, surreptitiously. It’s a building site, still being fabricated. There are no signs to guide me. Luckily three magicians come down a staircase, as if floating. They recognize me; I’ve worked with them in numerous variety shows. I’ve found my dealers den.

Upstairs the dealer’s hub that is FringeWorks is also in a state of flux. Workstations, printers the other necessities of an artist’s mobile office, still being put together. Again, I’m recognised. Being called WeeStu and wearing outrageous t-shirts has some advantages. Matt, Supplier, Artist and Venue Coordinator beckons me over. He sees the desperate hunger in my eyes and gives me what I need. The good stuff, the key to magic journeys. The Adelaide Fringe Artist Pass. With one of my aliases, Wee Stu, on it. This will give me access to the 25 nightly hits of stage time I’ve already secured, and hopefully many more.

I leave elated. A little drunk maybe. I pass another comic on the stairs; I recognise the cravings in his eyes.

By evening, however the hunger has returned. I’m back at Rhino Room OneMic stand begging for another hit of five. They give it to me. Third act in the first session. The routine works. The laughter fixes me. Very briefly I own a piece of stage real estate. Now I only have to wait until the next open mic at the Goody Hotel on Tuesday, BRKLYN Bar on Thursday and then, at last, my Fringe debut. Love 2 Laugh, Brompton Hotel Friday 14th February, 9pm.  Come along. Join me for the ride. Share the highs, the lows, the empty rooms, the deaths on stage, the behinds the scenes, the coffee (oh the coffee) and the confessions of a 59 year-old Fringe virgin.


 

Words by Stuart Campbell

Greek Comedian of the Year

Greek Comedian of the Year, presented at the Howling Owl, Griffins Hotel and the Austral, was one of the most enjoyable and engaging pieces of comedy at the Fringe this season I’ve seen. George Zacharopoulos, the self-titled “Greek Comedian of the Year”, stood before audiences night after night sharing stories from his upbringing in Kalamata, Greece, and his experiences living in the UK for the last fifteen years. This show had everything from embarrassing childhood stories to circumcision, dating with children, and cultural conflicts.

The way Zacharopoulos’ conversed with audience was charming and effortless, enhancing every aspect of his material; he made sure to identify the Greeks in the room, and those of other cultures – Lebanese, Italians and Vietnamese at the show I attended. For those without an ethnic background, this show will give you a hilarious and honest insight into the quirks of Greek culture. For those with any form of ethnic background, this show will ring home loud and true, and you will find yourself relating to our charismatic comedian from the get-go. You will walk away from this show feeling like you took a trip to your country of origin, or you dropped into a family dinner.

Zacharopoulo’ writing and material had depth, and the humour was witty and perceptive; this combined with his relaxed presence on stage, made for a comfortable and amusing evening that reminded me greatly of the enjoyment I feel when watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

George Zacharopoulos, if you are reading this, I was the Lebanese reviewer in the front row at one of your last shows at the Austral. I have been harping on about your show ever since, and I will be advocating for people to see you perform on your return to Adelaide next year!

4.5 stars


Words by Michelle Wakim