Sharing the laughter, one punchline at a time.

Bridie O’Shea laughed her way through the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow in Newcastle, and here’s why. 

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There couldn’t be anything more petrifying than standing up in front of a crowd and being told to make them laugh.

My instinct would immediately tell me to start doing an impersonation of the chicken dance. And I think that would get more uncomfortable silence with the odd cricket chirping in the background than anything else. When can I wake up from this nightmare?

Yet, for some brave souls, they do this for a living.

Some call them crazy.

But by definition, they’re comedians.

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) Roadshow at the Civic Theatre in Newcastle over the weekend. The MICF is the third-largest international comedy festival in the world, taking place annually in Melbourne over four weeks from March and into April. This year it was hosted by none other than I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here favourite, Joel Creasey.

 

(Warning: coarse language)

 

I had never been to a comedy festival, or even seen a stand-up gig before. I supposed the closest I had ever gotten was the short, 30-second segments Jerry Seinfeld used to perform before the beginning of each episode in Seinfeld. So clearly, I didn’t know the stand up world very well.

I don’t know if it was the opulence of Civic Theatre, or the mass of people in the corridors standing around and drinking wine, but I was grinning before I had even found my seat.

The Newcastle Roadshow started with Irish MC Dave Callan racing out onto stage to the tune of Gorillaz Feel Good Inc (you know, that one with the menacing laughing at the beginning).

With his brutally honest perspective of Australia and Australians –and setting the record straight about Irish stereotypes-, Callan was an immediate hit with the audience; bouncing jokes off each other as audience involvement derailed him from his usual set.

 

(Warning: coarse language)

 

Former Triple J breakfast show host, Tom Ballard, was up next with a beer in his hand (for the nerves?). His set was entertaining, and honest –speaking mainly about the challenges he’s faced in his life about being gay. Laughter rippled through the crowd as he jumped from joke to joke, but I think Callan warming up the audience helped him out.

 

(Warning: coarse language)

 

Then we had Welshman Lloyd Langford regaling tails through his thick accent. At times it was difficult to understand him, but maybe that just added to his act. No matter what he said, (he could’ve started reciting the ingredients on the back of a cereal box), I found everything that came out of his mouth hilarious. Differing from Callan and Ballard, Langford’s stage presence wasn’t loud and dynamic, but that quiet, slightly turned-in shoulders stance of his added to his charm.

 

 

South African born, New Zealand citizen, Urzila Carlson was the first woman to grace the stage and she made a big first impression. Classing herself as a ‘happy-fatty’, Carlson’s set consisted of the advantages of being overweight (floating in water), why we shouldn’t make a big deal about overweight children (now they can float too!), and the perks of being a lesbian.

 

(Warning: coarse language)

 

But the best act of the night, hands down, goes to Mr Joel Creasey. His rapid-fire tales of his time on I’m a Celebrity, and fulfilling his life long dream of seeing Celine Dion perform live in Los Vegas, had me in tears from start to finish.

I’d marry him in a heartbeat if he wasn’t gay. (But if you’re reading this Joel Creasey, the offer still stands).

 

(Warning: coarse language)

 

I admire anybody who has the guts to stand in front of a crowd with the intention of making them laugh. Dane Durie, a student at UoN, started stand-up at 13 years of age, performing in random bars around Newcastle that his dad organised for him.

“At that stage, all of my stuff was prepared. I thought [the jokes] were funny at the time but looking back, there was a lot of faux laughter because they were pretty stupid jokes,” Dane said, “The few times I have been drunk onstage though and decided to wing it seems to work out ok. Or maybe that’s my hazy memory.”

Dane has drifted in and out of the stand-up scene over the years, but has recently gotten back into writing and performing. He says that the majority of his content focuses on lifestyle, like his parents, experiences and his blow-up doll girlfriend (pretty sure that was a passing joke, but hey, no judgment here).

Contrary to popular belief, Dane doesn’t think that stand-up is a difficult world to break into. “There’s a lot of venues now that do open mic nights,” he said, “but it’s not competitive. Usually everyone you perform with are all pretty encouraging and give you advice if you want it.”

That being said, Dane doesn’t see stand-up being his full time job. “I used to piss about in school all the time because in my underdeveloped mind I thought I’d do comedy forever. But now I’m extremely bitter from working in hospitality and at Uni hoping to get a career as a successful prostitute, so it’s more a hobby these days.”

 

 

Image: Peter Myers, Flickr, no changes made.

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