Tom Gleeson; Cam Venn; John Glover; Opening Night Comedy All-Stars Supershow; Noah Szto; A Succulent Comedy Showcase

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Cam Venn | Shark Heist
Motley Bauhaus, until April 10

In a number of ways this show does what it says on the tin, but this is no ordinary tin. There is a shark (hi Terry) involved in a heist (of the world’s biggest diamond, naturally). There’s escalating nudity, and more audience participation than most performers are prepared to give.

Shark Heist is on at The Motley Bauhaus Theatrette until April 10.

Shark Heist is on at The Motley Bauhaus Theatrette until April 10.

I say give because while the thought of being roped into a show may send some punters running, Venn’s capacity to create an inclusive environment conducive to participatory play is something quite special. There is no fourth wall here, and to build one would destroy the essence of this unique romp. Breaking character, breaking the set or losing one’s wig are all part of the fun.

If it sounds chaotic, it is, but artfully controlled. There’s also an elaborate plot, peppered with tropes pointedly skewered, and a cast of vivid characters delivered with enough nous to ensure that, after all, Venn is the centre of this silly universe.
★★★★
Reviewed by Hannah Francis

John Glover | Microsoft Orifice
The Catfish Bar, until April 6

“That’s my whole life: computers and holes,” says John Glover not long after he begins his set. And he’s selling it right because this is exactly what Microsoft Orifice is all about.

Microsoft Orifice is on at The Catfish Bar until April 6.

Microsoft Orifice is on at The Catfish Bar until April 6.

Predictably, it is millennial malaise for a more innocent internet, complete with screenshots – recollections of MSN Messenger, being obsessed with Pokemon to the point of listing all the different creatures in a Word document, down to early Facebook and Instagram use.

But the show is also about Glover’s life as a gay man, as well as his job working in marketing in Sydney alongside gormless colleagues. More screenshots abound. Razor-sharp one-liners are aplenty and timing is spot-on. Glover’s transitions are a delight to follow, as he bounces from gay life to office life to internet life and back again.

But the lines between these different parts of his existence also often blur because such is life now. “I’d kinda like that within myself and my personality, right, that carefreeness,” Glover says towards the end after roasting a hapless colleague. This is arguably the essence of Microsoft Orifice: the absurd wish for a more decompartmentalised life. This is a budding comic to watch.
★★★★
Reviewed by Cher Tan

Opening Night Comedy All-Stars Supershow
Palais Theatre, March 27

“Most of my job tonight is reading out names,” dead-panned New Zealand comic Guy Montgomery in his debut hosting slot of MICF’s All-Stars Supershow. In three words? He smashed it.

Guy Montgomery nailed his first time hosting the opening night All-Stars Supershow.

Guy Montgomery nailed his first time hosting the opening night All-Stars Supershow.Credit: Ian Laidlaw

The low-energy, high-impact MC set the table beautifully for 25 comedians to get up, build rapport and extract huge laughs from a packed house … all in less than five minutes each. Tough gig. Pleasingly, nobody bombed.

Josh Thomas made a strong return after 10 years, getting vulnerable with us as he spoke about having ADHD before it was cool and a newer medical diagnosis that still has cultural cachet. Malaysian doctor-turned-comedian Jason Leong gained the first applause break of the night with deft timing and a killer head tilt then Jenny Tian read the room brilliantly by highlighting the incongruity between her face and her voice, doubling down on the bit like a pro despite it being her first Gala appearance.

Lara Ricote gave the crowd an amazing therapist takedown at the All-Stars Supershow.

Lara Ricote gave the crowd an amazing therapist takedown at the All-Stars Supershow.Credit: Ian Laidlaw

Geraldine Hickey, Dave Hughes and Claire Hooper let the audience know they were in good hands with perfectly judged anecdotes about arthritis, a dislocated shoulder and long-term relationships.

The internationals warmed to the task quickly, Chloe Petts (UK) got away with some very risque lines about her sexuality and anybody unlucky enough to get caught in her seductively ambiguous spider web. Lara Ricote (Mexico) gave us an amazing therapist takedown and Welshman-turned-Aussie Lloyd Langford was perhaps best of all with his too-close-to-the-bone gear about waffle cones and sperm donation.

The surprise hit of the night was a local journeyman making his first Gala appearance: Josh Glanc. The hirsute hometown hero went big with props and a seemingly endless build-up and had us heaving at the (deliberately) anticlimactic pay-off.

Montgomery brought it all to a close with some lacerating anti-Melbourne lines that goaded the audience, only to add a smiling caveat “I kid, I kid” to keep us on side. Now it’s over to the 800 or so comedians to kid around on stage for the next three and a half weeks…
★★★★
Reviewed by Mikey Cahill

Noah Szto | Success in Everything
Lychee Karaoke, until April 13

Success in Everything is the first hour of stand-up Noah Szto has performed, not that you’d guess. Confident and unflappable – despite the technological issues that render his mic practically useless and compound the comedy – Szto segues seamlessly from one childhood story to the next with the self-assurance and poise of a comedian who has been kicking around for longer than four years.

Success is Everything runs at Lychee Karaoke until April 13.

Success is Everything runs at Lychee Karaoke until April 13.

Traversing topics as wide-ranging as the suspiciously short time it takes to obtain a Working with Children Check to the perils of growing up Mormon, Szto wades into taboo topics with disarming ease and a knowing smile before he diffuses the tension with a well-thought-out punchline.

Lychee Karaoke is one of the more unique venues of the festival, but it works particularly well. Backdropped by Maoist propaganda art and the machinations of a karaoke machine threatening to come to life, Stzo’s set on finding peace as a bilingual, biracial person is “interrupted” twice by a curious interloper – the effect doesn’t quite land, but it’s one of the few blips of an otherwise strong set. Szto is one to watch.
★★★
Reviewed by Sonia Nair

A Succulent Comedy Showcase
Storyville Melbourne, until April 7

According to comedian Chris Nguyen, Asian people make the worst audience members because they are the most repressed people. It’s not surprising that this showcase of up-and-coming Asian-Australian comedians would garner the diaspora’s interest.

A Succulent Comedy Showcase runs at Storyville Melbourne until April 7.

A Succulent Comedy Showcase runs at Storyville Melbourne until April 7.

The evening featured a range of comedic approaches, from the dry delivery of He Huang to boisterous routines from Harry Jun and Takashi Wakasugi.

There were the expected moments of culturally-specific comedy, such as Jun’s bit about the Korean finger heart gesture, as well as jokes universal enough to capture a broader audience, including Wakasugi’s anecdotes on what constitutes the “happiest Melbourne tram trip”.

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A jam-packed line-up in a 50-minute show meant each performer had a limited window to engage the audience while still delivering a cohesive routine. For seasoned performers, they met the challenge with ease whereas others clearly felt the weight of the pressure, occasionally nervously stumbling over words or openly acknowledging when jokes didn’t land.

A fun evening featuring new and known talent that even a Tiger Mum would be proud of.
★★★
Reviewed by Vyshnavee Wijekumar

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