Larry Dean – Fudnut

‘Fudnut’ is Glaswegian slang for ‘idiot’ and in Fudnut Larry Dean attempts to dissect where and how he was a fudnut in his recent string of relationship woes. For Dean, owning his sadness is the key to dissipating it. Personally, I like to use copious amounts of rum, liberally applied as required, to own my sadness, but different strokes and all that.

His most recent meaningful relationship ended in a familiar way; break-up, reconciliation, discovery of infidelity, second break-up, couple of rebounds to take the edge off. Peppered with his trademark observations, Dean tends to go off on tangent after tangent before dragging the story back to the original narrative. It’s all really rather funny, his off-handed comments consistently hitting the mark. His penchant for impressions and accents also regularly enhances the story – it takes it all from routine stand-up to another level, a bloke who’s clearly very good at what he does and very comfortable being on stage telling you stories rather than firing jokes at you and demanding you laugh.

Whilst most of the material lands solidly, there’s a few rough patches where it’s missed the target. Although Dean expertly moves straight on, you can tell that some of the jokes need a bit of work. It doesn’t detract from the overall show though, with plenty of genuinely laugh-out-loud moments.

It’s all part of his very charming, somewhat inoffensive delivery. If that sounds like a backhanded compliment, it really isn’t – the ability to be funny and make jokes that don’t require punching down or being needlessly controversial is quite a skill than many comics couldn’t locate if they were the AFP raiding a journalist’s house.

Fudnut is critical introspection without being woe-is-me-please-feel-sad-for-me, and his casual but skilful stage presence underlines the overall quality of the show. He’ll regularly get lost in a story, stumble upon something that he finds tremendously amusing and just has to let us in on the joke, and in turn cracks himself up. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something about watching a very talented comedian who clearly loves his job.

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Larry Dean’s Fudnut is playing until March 15

For more information and tickets click here

Tom Ballard – Enough

What is it with an abrupt tragedy being the best foundation for stand-up? I mean, are we all merely a horrendous break-up or vicious firing away from writing an hour of jokes and making a glorious festival run? Well, probably not, because like a lot of things, stand-up requires you to actually have some talent at being funny, and if you’re just not funny then you can simultaneously have your heart ripped out whilst being forcibly led out of your office by security, all while watching a live feed of your favourite pet being mashed under the J1 bus and you’re probably still not going to have five minutes’ worth of decent material. It’s nice to think you could though, right?

Luckily for Tom Ballard, he’s got some talent. Well, a fair bit of talent. Ballard is funny, and so when his rather amusing acerbic ABC show Tonightly got canned after a few skits upset the wrong people, most notably a) calling a political candidate a very bad name, and b) airing a skit containing a song highlighting the hypocrisy of a certain religion, he had some options following the traditional pints-for-schooner-prices celebratory soirée that generally marks the commencement of surprise unemployment. He wrote a stand-up show, and – as previously mentioned – because he’s actually talented at the whole comedy thing, it’s actually pretty good.

Clearly, he’s a bit miffed at that little sequence of events, and so he takes aim at a few things that he’s got to contend with in his frenzied, rapid-fire style. The housing market, the failings of modern capitalism, our inability to escape colossal digital companies, baby boomers, the pitfalls of taking drugs and attending gay saunas… it’s catharsis for Ballard. When he attempts to push the envelope out a bit it all goes up a few notches and he hits a number of high-water marks, but they’re a bit inconsistent. The few rough patches are navigated mostly scot-free.

Whether or not you agree with the sequence of events surrounding the cancellation of Tonightly, the sterilisation of Australian comedy is to be widely admonished; I’m not entirely certain when conservative politicians got placed on the protected species list, but here we are. Allow me to dispense a trade secret: comedy is subjective. Revelatory, I know. If you’re not a fan of modern manic stand-up comedy, then you probably won’t like Enough. It’s not ground-breaking nor does it purport to be, but there’s nothing wrong with some classic stand-up.

 

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Tom Ballard – Enough is on until March 15

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here

SHAD WICKA – BACKFIRED

I’m not particularly well-versed in corporate office behavioral requirements, but I’d have wagered that posing next to the Prime Minister for a social media photo whilst holding a craftily-designed mug that had a certain word that rhymes with ‘punt’ printed across it probably falls outside the realm of what’s deemed acceptable. Really rather amusing though; I mean, who doesn’t like sticking it to The Man? I can certainly condone it. Unfortunately for Shad Wicka, when he decided he was going to take a stand for the everyman, the reality of corporate management tending to take a dim view of the great unwashed attempting to strike back reared its ugly head, and he found himself – rather unsurprisingly – with a  lot more spare time on his hands.

For Wicka it was even worse; he’d previously been offered a promotion to host a drive-time radio slot only a few days prior to his act of rebellion, and so he’d canned the lease, packed the car, and convinced his partner to follow him to Sydney. Leaving Cairns, he got as far as Mackay before he got the phone-call from upstairs informing him that they were choosing to take a different direction with the hosting position, and he was politely asked to leave through the door marked ‘do one’. Having to then inform his partner – who’d quit her six-figure-paying job in order to support him under the bright lights of the big city – was probably akin to liberally applying chilli to an open wound. Still, laughter is the best medicine, right?

Following on from his previous show Not Great (but not sh*t), Backfired continues that theme by being a bit haphazard. Bouncing between adjusting to the abrupt upheaval of his life and some random observations, Wicka clearly has a knack for being funny, and whilst his casual and comfortable demeanour is gleaned from years behind a microphone, being up on stage is a different kettle of Atlantic salmon, and this is where things tend to fall a bit flat. It probably doesn’t help that he’s at a venue that’s a bit DIY; required to announce himself and also do his own sound work, he probably even has to put the chairs out beforehand and clean up the empty glasses after. He takes the hits as well as the misses, and the funny parts are genuinely quite funny, but the see-sawing unfortunately detracts from what is otherwise a solid set.

3 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Shad Wicka – Backfired’s season has ended

JONATHAN PIE: THE FAKE NEWS TOUR

A few years ago, Jonathan Pie racked up over one hundred million views with a profanity-laced tirade about a certain someone getting elected President of the United States. The general gist of this rant was not that he was annoyed at Trump’s victory, it was his white-hot visceral rage at the other side for becoming what they’d become – elitist, aloof, unwilling to engage with people holding opposing views or ideals. Of course, being a lefty he was also rather unimpressed with the President-elect, but it was more a case of how could they have let this happen? Four years on, not much has changed.

His latest tour is on the back of his fictional firing by the BBC – Pie is in fact played by comedian & actor Tom Walker, with occasional help from Andrew Doyle – for making a pretty reprehensible statement that he freely admits he really shouldn’t have done, or at least made sure the camera wasn’t still transmitting. As far as excuses for swanning about Australia in the middle of summer go, it’s a pretty good one. Bit of a working holiday; enjoying the sunshine, getting up on stage for a handful of nights, and giving the people what they want – dick jokes, tearing shreds off of Tories, big-‘L’ Liberals, small-L liberals, Labor, Labour, Republicans, Democrats, and some blunt opinions about cancel culture, the professionally offended, and of course, wantonly attacking just about everything else, especially Twitter. By god he hates Twitter.

Pie maintains that the media, specifically the 24-hour news cycle that was normalised post-9/11 and fuelled by instantaneously published ‘opinions’ on Twitter, has accelerated the moral decay of political discussion to the point that now almost immediately in any situation a vast majority of people have adopted the ‘Brexit Face’ – where they just glaze over and stop listening, waiting only for the other person to stop talking. Kicking off with the origins of Brexit, the lecture – not a stand-up routine, he’s at pains to explain – gradually morphs into a diatribe where he questions how we’ve gotten to this point; climate change, crackpot world leaders, divisiveness, and identity politics.

Having previously admitted that Pie was a manner in which to vent when Walker was struggling for acting jobs, the character has become a version of The Thick of It Malcolm Tucker, if Tucker was secretly a bleeding-heart lefty who could accept that reducing his carbon footprint and being a bit more open-minded about things could actually be beneficial. Happily swinging a rather precise axe at everything he deems a worthy target, The Fake News Tour is equal parts Pie’s/Walker’s utter despair at the current state of affairs and his bright hope for the future.

4 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Jonathan Pie – The Fake News Tour was on for one night only at the Royalty Theatre.

Welcome to Japan

From food to bathroom etiquette, public transport to comedy show audiences, Takashi Wakasugi is welcoming Adelaide to an hour of irreverent observational humour.  Having gotten his comedy legs under him as a university student in Sydney, Wakasugi is in the perfect position to make cultural comparisons between Australia and Japan, and he isn’t afraid to be a little x-rated (consider this a forewarning if you’re planning on attending the show with your grandmother).

Welcome to Japan moves seamlessly between everything from sex jokes and critiques of Western porn, to a performance of original haikus. There are reenactments, props, audience interaction, and a good sense that nothing is off limits. But while the routine makes use of a number of comedic devices, where it really shines is during Wakasugi’s direct observations, a point emphasised when the microphone made a dramatic lapse into silence halfway through the show, and he spent a handful of minutes interacting with the audience on the fly, maintaining the show’s momentum without breaking a sweat.

While the comedy routine creates laughs a-plenty, on the occasion a joke fell flat Wakasugi integrated the moment into his routine with grace and ploughed ahead with gusto. This ability to roll with the crowd, alongside an evident love for both cultures, carried the audience comfortably through the less polished three-quarter mark of the show.

There’s a lot that’s covered and poked fun at over the course of the hour, from his experience working in an office job in Japan, to the trials and tribulations of being a backpacker working on a farm in Australia, and perhaps most importantly, the dangers of getting a tattoo in a language you don’t understand. Together, the anecdotes provide a lighthearted introduction to Japanese culture and humour, while also reflecting on the best and most confusing parts of Australian culture.

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Rachael Stapleton

Welcome to Japan is showing until February 29

For more information and to book tickets click here

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

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.

All the Best from Edinburgh… to Adelaide

Upstairs from the bustling bar of the Historian Hotel, the audience packed into the seating for a set of four comedians to showcase their talents. Each set was a bite-sized helping of a greater meal, with most comedians directing the audience to get to their own shows whether they be a set of comedians riffing on the subject of sex or a self-described dangerous circus show. It was a sample pack of comedy.
Each comedian got to show off their rehearsed material but also showed their ability to go off script when needed, including a brutal but stylish shutting-down of a heckler. The mixture of comic tastes should ensure that everyone gets a helping of something they appreciate and a little of something new as well.
The line-up changes throughout the Adelaide Fringe so you could come back for seconds and find something new. The first night’s line-up seemed like the set up to a joke – a Scot, an Englishman, and an Irishman walk into a bar – but the audience gets more than that, much more.
The show’s variety does mean that the short sets we get from each comedian don’t feel quite complete but that is what you get with a show of this kind – it’s the ultimate in ‘try before you buy’ Fringe shows. If you want to hear more from a particular comedian, you can follow them up in their own show and see what they have to show outside of the time constraints necessitated by the format.
Following nearly immediately from the conclusion of All the Best from Edinburgh… To Adelaide is the final comedian, Nik Coppin’s Shaggers, a revolving offering of comics presenting their routines on sex. This ensures you don’t have to go far, or wait long, to get an extra helping if this show whets your appetite.

 


3.5 stars.

Words by Liam McNally

All the Best from Edinburgh… to Adelaide is playing every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, until the end of the Adelaide Fringe. Tickets are available here.

 

Ladylike: A Modern Guide to Etiquette

Comedian Louise Beuvink is offering an etiquette guide for the modern woman. Hosting a fancy dinner party on a budget (pate made of blended mini hot dogs and champagne made in a Sodastream), an instructional song about encouraging your male partner to go down on you, and a quick tutorial about the rules of cricket, are all covered in her hour-long session. With a sharp feminist voice and some extremely funny personal stories, Louise’s Ladylike is a very fun night out (I was seated behind a group of women in their mid-forties on a night out, who were having a great time). No topic was too personal for Louise – including a bit about steamed vaginas – and it was nice to hear a young woman’s voice on the double standards placed on people with a vagina (Louise’s opening address asked, who thinks the gender binary is bullshit? to a healthy cheer). The audience was largely women and it couldn’t be more perfect for Louise’s show.
The show’s second half perhaps wasn’t as strong as the first, but is hard to follow up a song about getting your husband to perform cunnilingus on you with anything quite as memorable. I thoroughly enjoyed this show and would recommend for anyone looking for a good laugh about the misogynistic double standards placed on women.

 


3.5 stars.

Words by Riana Kinlough.

Ladylike: A Modern Guide to Etiquette is playing daily (except Mondays) until March 3. Tickets available here.