The Comedy Orphans – Live at The Orphanage
Sammy J & Randy, David Quirk, Felicity Ward, Smart Casual, Chopper @ Umbrella Revolution
11:15pm, Fri 11 Feb 2011
So – my “Shortlist” this year is not-so-short, and that makes it incredibly difficult to try and formulate a reasonable Schedule. Earlier this week, I was loading the Fringe’s iPhone app on an almost hourly basis to flick through all the events, half-hoping that acts would show up as “cancelled”, thus removing them from the decision-making process… anything to thin out the Shortlist.
Another technique I sometimes use early on is the “compilation show” – the events that feature a ton of comedians essentially spruiking their own shows. Thus I booked my ticket to The Orphanage early, knowing that most of The Comedy Orphans were on the Shortlist in some form… would some get bumped into the “Maybe” pile, or off the list altogether?
There’s not much of a crowd lining up outside the Umbrella Revolution, surrounded by the collection of rides as it is; in all, maybe only fifty or sixty people rolled up to The Orphanage. And, once inside (thirty minutes late), it’s pretty clear that this is going to be a bit awkward; the small crowd means that everyone is encouraged to sit near the front, and the sound bleed of doof-doof music from the carny rides outside is… well, it’s not really a “bleed”, is it. More like an unyielding torrent. And this means that the sound guys inside the Umbrella Revolution try to combat the outside forces with more volume; the audio is way too hot, my tinnitus rings up, and I can barely discern the first couple of verses of Sammy J & Randy’s first song.
Once the ears get used to it, though, Sammy J’s rapid-fire delivery, perforated with Randy’s profane interjections, made for some solid laughs; their Secrets song takes a decidedly funny (and sinister turn) for the best, and the R.E.M. Sleep song was a cracker. They remain where they are on the Shortlist.
Despite the fact that the crowd has been pushed to the front of the seating stacks, it still feels like there’s a massive gulf between the performers and the audience – something I don’t think David Quirk handled all that well. It’s been a couple of years since I’d last seen him, so I was a bit disappointed to hear some familiar material… although the “relationship as a bushfire” metaphor is still quality stuff. Not quality enough, though – I think my intention to give Quirk a second chance may have been unwise given the wealth of other performers around at the moment. Banished!
Having seen Felicity Ward the past two years, I thought I had a pretty good feel for her style of comedy, and had left her on the “Maybe” pile; however, on the strength of her fantastic multi-tracked junkie song, she’s moved up the list.
This was the first time I’d seen Roger David and Fletcher Jones, otherwise known as Smart Casual. Their laid-back twin-vox-and-guitar stage manner is great; their songs short (Ellen DeGeneres) and surreal (Hawk Hawkins). Elevated, they are.
I have to admit that I grimaced a little bit (on the inside) when Chopper appeared as the final act, paranoid that the audience were here to see him and him alone. Chopper was pretty sharp, and his anger was well-focussed on the carnies responsible for the thumping music that provided the unwanted backdrop for The Orphanage; but after awhile, the stream of profanity wore a bit thin, and his attempts at audience interaction (again impeded by the yawning chasm between the stage and the seats) were unfocussed and tiring.
In short, The Comedy Orphans were a bit of a mixed bag, but they served their purpose (well… my purpose, anyway) well. Unfortunately, they were let down by being in the wrong room at the wrong time.