[2014043] Out Of Print Book Club

[2014043] Out Of Print Book Club

Damian Callinan & Tim Overton (with Jon Bennett, Cal Wilson, Sammy J) @ Ayers House Museum – State Dining Room

4:30pm, Sat 22 Feb 2014

The Out Of Print Book Club was firmly in the “Maybe” column of The Shortlist; it wasn’t until I was talking to Meg (a producer for In Canberra Tonight) outside FringeTIX on this sunny Saturday afternoon that I was spruiked for the show – and the guest lineup was too good to ignore. Jon Bennett and Sammy J? Sold… and even Cal Wilson appealed as part of an ensemble.

There’s an impressive audience for this performance, with the… er… stately Dining Room in Ayers House almost uncomfortably warm. At the northern end of the room was a small stage and a grand piano; a tuxedoed Tim Overton tinkled the keys whilst Damian Callinan introduced the concept: it’s a Book Club meeting, with the five attendees discussing books that never existed.

Callinan guides the conversation, encouraging the three guests to express their opinions on several fancifully fictitious books; the bulk of the show focussed on a series of books featuring a man who loved his ute. Initially intended as a promotional device, as the book series progressed the panel’s increasingly silly ideas – usually introduced in an attempt to push one of the other panelists into an incredulous corner – took the premise on a wild ride of its own.

There’s a few good questions from the audience that colour proceedings, but this show really relies on the guests (and Callinan’s prompting). Bennett appeared unflappable early, only to burst into laughter at some of the predicaments that Wilson and (especially) Sammy J threw at him; Sammy J appeared to act as the straight-man of the three. Wilson’s chirpy enthusiasm kept things bubbling along, too, and Callinan’s clipboard-fuelled prodding of the panel was solid. Only Overton’s presence seemed to be wasted; ivory-tinkling aside, he contributed little to the conversation.

The Out Of Print Book Club turned out to be a bloody fun way to spend a sunny Saturday arvo (the rising temperature in the Dining Room notwithstanding). I reckon that it’s a great opportunity to see the more lyrical storytellers from the comedy community strut their stuff, and I’ll be keeping my eye on the lineups in the future.

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