Festival Fishbowl [FringeTIX]
Jason Chong @ Rhino Room – Upstairs
12:00pm, Fri 24 Feb 2012
As I potter upstairs in the Rhino Room, I’m expecting to see bugger all people… Jason Chong and a tech, definitely, but no audience to speak of. But I was pleasantly surprised to see a good wodge of people in the ‘Room; artists aplenty, and a good core audience of fifteen or twenty, with more people dressed in office attire drifting in and out as their lunch-breaks permitted.
After a bit of a welcome spiel before the show went “live” (the Fishbowl is streamed in realtime, with an associated chatroom for comments), Chong – himself surprised by the turnout – announced that there were no refunds. I’ve never been a huge fan of his comedy, but he worked well in his hosting role… a role he was supposed to share with Sammy J, who had texted to inform him that he was currently stuck waiting for a bus in Norwood.
The show started (without Sammy J) with a simple hello, before Chong invited the first set of guests up: the young crew behind No Such Thing As Normal. Nervous and enthusiastic, they talked all over each other before settling into a groove, mainly discussing the fact that one of the performers in an acrobatic act was on crutches. Pleasant kids, and they did plenty to encourage me to go along to their show.
Next up was Eddie Ifft, who left no-one in any doubt that he does not like the heat. In fact, he looked as if he had been physically brutalised by the weather on the way to the Rhino Room. He also discussed his last tour of Australia, in particular a review written by Helen Razer. More choice words were directed in Helen’s direction, before Ifft wrapped up his chat and sullenly ambled off, swearing all the way about the heat.
The Violent Romantics were up next, talking about their show Rough Trade, which I was scheduled to see the following afternoon. Another young group, they talked about the bruising nature of their performance… literally, as one of the female performers showed off a purple monster of a bruise on the inside of her knee. When they started talking about their fight scenes within the show, someone on the chatroom piped up: can they perform a bit of their fighting onstage now? Chong checks with his producer; “is that a good idea?” he asks, the intonation in his voice telling the world that he wanted a bit of onstage biffo. “No” the producer flatly – and loudly – decrees, her tone telling the world that it was a monumentally stupid idea.
Next up was Tom Gleeson. Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of Mr Gleeson’s standup, but my recent experience with him in The Phatcave had me re-evaluating him somewhat. His manner onstage here at the Fishbowl was outstanding; friendly, affable, and bloody funny, he and Sammy J reminisced about their times within the Good News Week family, dropping some gossip here, some reality-checks there. Fascinating.
After a stilted live cross to James McCann, two women from the audience won tickets to some assorted shows and joined Jason and Sammy onstage. After offering more prizes to the chatroom – and discovering that no-one there was actually in Australia – another audience member was selected to receive freebies and engage in awkward banter. And there the Fishbowl ended; an entertaining, if ramshackle, hour, with a bit of a peek behind the curtain as to what makes a show like that tick.