I was given tickets to two shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in exchange for honest reviews.
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is one of my favourite times of the year – so much talent and so many laughs. I love the buzz in Melbourne! I haven’t been for a couple of years, so it was nice to be invited this year.
I was given tickets to see two comedy festival shows earlier this week – David O’Doherty (Ireland) and Josie Long (England) – two comedians who I’ve seen before. Both were heavily influenced by the current dire political situation – especially Josie Long.
I love these comedians because I think they want to make a positive difference – to make audiences think (and laugh) and they don’t use people’s race, sexuality, disability or appearance as a punchline. Kindness is their game, and they have a laugh while talking about the big issues.
David O’Doherty’s show opened with an acknowledgement of country, paying respect to the land on which we met, and Aboriginals past, present and future (highlighting Aboriginal comedians).
He opened with commentary around his mild dislike for social media influencers getting cash for comment (I guess I am one of those, since I was given tickets in exchange for a review!). He talked about the time he rubbed his penis on Ed Sheeran’s microphone and tweeted Ed. Read that exchange here. (David tweeted me back after I tweeted I lost then found my phone in the theatre, and I hoped I’d get a big influx of his fans like he did with Ed!)
O’Doherty also wove in funny anecdotes from his life – Aldi purchase hoarding, buying a leotard for his niece, and engaging with the audience – with whimsical songs.
There was some commentary around the state of the world – poking fun at Trump and Putin.
It was a lot of fun. He’s at The Forum until 23 April, and he’s also doing a children’s show – Danger is Everywhere.
Josie Long’s show was far more political, though no less fun. She opened with karaoke – singing into the microphone while reading the lyrics on her phone, and commentating on the subject matter of classic Pina Coladas. She kept insisting that it wasn’t part of the show. But it had the incoming audience roaring with laughter. I’d be happy to watch a show just of her karaoke.
Long is smart, cute, a big thinker and optimistic about the dire state of world politics. I identified a lot with her mid 30s, activist-y, hopeful, the pressure to have a baby, preaching to the choir, privileged, wanting to change the world mindset. I also related to her new found love of Pino Grigio – “get on the griiig”, she shouted regularly. It must be a mid 30s thing.
She reinforced how important it is to do something, rather than resort to clicktivism, and how hard it can be to preach to the choir – she thought everyone was on the left like her, until Brexit happened. The current English government makes her worried, as does the refugee crisis, but she is hopeful. “Despair is a luxury” she said – aiming to be a good activist, using her privilege to help those who need it the most.
It was interesting to hear her speak about how the people who voted for Brexit are not all bad people. They might share similarities with her.While it was a bit tedious with her drawing out a joke about To Kill a Mockingbird, she quoted a beautiful line that was an aha moment for my own activism: “We must remember when we’re done fighting these people, they’re still our friends”.
While Brexit – and Trump, and the conservative governments in Australia might be scary, she has hope. She quoted her favourite author, Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark – which I can’t wait to read-to end the show (before more karaoke). She sees darkness not as the end of the world, but as the start of something better.
Long has done more than just talk about inequality – she’s co-founded Arts Emergency – a charity to help students in the arts. (Josie mentioned higher education tuition fees in her show.)
And O’Doherty writes children’s books and does comedy for children . He is always amused by their honesty. “Does this get good soon?”, one child asked during his show? I think his question has been answered in both Lomg and O’Doherty’s shows – it will get good, especially when there are such critical thinkers wanting to make positive change through comedy.
Four stars each.
The Melbourne Intentional Comedy Festival is on until 23 April. These are my honest reviews.
Have you seen any shows this year? What do you recommend?