[2011010] Tony Roberts – Late Night Ace High

Tony Roberts – Late Night Ace High [FringeTIX]

Tony Roberts @ Puppet Palace

11:59pm, Sat 12 Feb 2011

There’s only a dozen-or-so people from the lazy Saturday-night Garden crowd who wander into the Puppet Palace; we all fit in the front three rows with room to spare. And, to be honest, it worked out pretty well; it created a very intimate performance, and Tony Roberts was quite quiet and restrained.

Opening with some sleight-of-hand rope tricks, Roberts then eases back into a bit of comedy – there’s a surprisingly grubby Princess Di joke wodged in there, the quiet delivery a sly trick in itself. He then pulls his mark for the evening out of the audience (was that Trevor Crook?), for some quite cool card tricks; the shuffling of the invisible deck is certainly not something I’d seen before. He grabs his guitar for a couple of songs – I swear I’ve heard the excellent Eighteen Minutes to Orgasm before, and the naked motorcycling with musical accompaniment was also pretty good (if crass), and he closes with a really neat card trick involving a third of the audience.

In short, Late Night Ace High was a decent old show, even if the small crowd lacked the energy you’d want from this sort of gig. I was entertained and mystified, and I guess you can’t ask for much more than that.

[2011009] Asher Treleaven, Secret Door

Asher Treleaven, Secret Door [FringeTIX]

Asher Treleaven @ Le Cascadeur

10:00pm, Sat 12 Feb 2011

“IF YOU DON’T STOP TALKING, I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU” yells Asher Treleaven, eyes wide like a crazed animal, before flicking his hair aside in his elaborate manner. After an apology to any reviewers present – “just say ‘deals with hecklers calmly'” – he returns to his monologue; moments later, the muttering begins again on the right-hand side of Le Cascadeur. His smile drops, he stares at the source of the noise in raging disbelief; then, from the cluster of quietened people, comes a meek cry: “I’m translating.”

There’s a moment… a long moment… where we didn’t quite know what was going to happen. Was Treleaven going to have a rage aneurysm, blood spurting from his nose, ruining his crisp white suit? Would he throw them out in a fit of why-would-you-come-to-a-comedy-show-if-you-don’t-understand-the-language?

The stare breaks; he gasps, then grins. The room cracks up; he enquires of the language that is the translation target, then asks “How do you translate ‘rapid-fire bunny-fuck’ in Polish?”

Now, that little exchange – though entirely memorable – is completely at odds with the rest of Treleaven’s show. Because, behind his dapper appearance and flamboyant idiosyncratic gestures (the lanky skipping across the stage, the hand flourishes), Secret Door is actually quite a biting, politically charged piece. Utilising three “poisonous personalities”, he explores various social problems in general (and the greed and stupidity of men in particular), using these ideas as springboards for satiric and straight-comedic insight alike.

Wilson Tuckey is used to initiate a segment about phobias and violence; Thomas Midgley, Jr‘s work (knowingly) endangering the lives of thousands of workers demonstrated the unfettered greed of man. But it was the introduction of Steve Fielding, the Family First federal senator who compared same-sex marriages to incest, and declared that divorces should be more difficult to obtain because they add to the impact of global warming (via “resource-inefficient lifestyle[s]”), that yielded the best comedy for me.

With the weighty socio-political content, and with his periodic pill-popping (without explanation) during the show, Asher’s performance has certainly changed a bit since I last saw him… but, just as I thought this show was a bit too heavy, he pulled out some old material in the form of a Mills & Boon reading. But then it was back to his own experiences product testing, a callback to the odd “airplane humour” joke he set up earlier, and it was done.

Now – I’m really torn by this show. On the one hand, I love the political content and satire; on the other hand, I love Treleaven’s sharp wit and mannerisms. But the problem is that I think these ingredients just don’t mix in this show; the introduction of each of the poisonous personalities coincides with a distinct lull in the comedy. This wouldn’t be so bad if there was a quick recovery, but the contrast is so great that the lingering feeling is of a patchy performance. Which is sad, really, since there is so much to like about it.

[2011008] Sam Simmons & The Precise History of Things

Sam Simmons & The Precise History of Things [FringeTIX]

Sam Simmons @ Bosco Theater

8:45pm, Sat 12 Feb 2011

Ever since I first saw Sam Simmons in 2006, I’ve been a fan; sure, he’s had his ups and downs since then, but he’s still a must-see for me… simply because I love his absurdist, surreal style.

I was so keen on seeing this show that I didn’t even mind the packed house in the Bosco; there’s a massive mix of ages in there, and I spot the older couple who were celebrating their wedding anniversary that I’d talked to in the queue. “We’re from Victor, and are just in town for our anniversary… we thought we’d catch a show,” they had told me. “We got tickets to this guy; is he any good?”

I honestly didn’t know what to tell them… but I kept my eye on their responses during the show. She laughed her head off; he frequently had a look of bemused what-the-fuck.

And that was fair enough, really – because Simmons was on song this evening.

Appearing dressed as an astronaut, carrying the Old El Paso Taco Kit that became the bizarre icon of the show, Simmons slow-motions his way onstage while his backing audio explains his dream of delivering said Taco Kit to The Moon. Which is par for the course, really. Doffing the space-suit (after trashing his flip-chart whilst gawking through paper cut-outs symbolising space travel) he reverts to lounge-esque polo shirt, shorts, sock, shoes that don’t want to go on his feet, and a cap covering a bald spot and dodgy comb-over. And a porn-star moustache. A seventies porn-star moustache. This leads to a bit about dodgy child predators, which gets called back when he summons an audience member and, using the power of his audio backing and flip-chart pictures, essentially accuses him of being a cat-hating pedophile.

Like I said, par for the course.

As usual, Simmons has a brilliantly-concocted audio backing – and once again, his sound guy deserves massive props. Audio comes as flourishes and exclamations, or as expository voice-overs that accompany the letter and e-mails that Simmons receives – and answers. These letters form the backbone of Simmons’ set; but it’s the bizarre asides that really make the show work.

The pine-cone family… jesus, that was just absolutely brilliant nonsense. The Continental Alfredo Pasta & Sauce giveaway… “that’s Four Cheeses, you mole.” Harsh, inaccurate, but bloody funny. And the ending, recreating his first Old El Paso Taco Kit experience as an eight-year-old, leading to him obliterating the contents of said kit in… ummm… unorthodox ways… well, it’s just sublime. Odd, but sublime.

Yes, he still snickers to himself, in an attempt to convey the fact that his absurdity freaks even him out; but that is perhaps the only down-side to Sam Simmons’ performance. The show is already running smoothly, and is just wonderful, nonsensical, fun.

[2011007] Viva La Franglaise

Viva La Franglaise

Nikki Aitken and Matthew Carey @ The Spiegeltent

7:00pm, Sat 12 Feb 2011

Nikki Aitken and Matthew Carey take to the stage almost unexpectedly; it’s still daylight, the dropping of the house lights didn’t alert anyone, and the welcoming applause is late and accompanied with surprised murmurs. Nikki welcomes the crowd warmly and, keyed off by Carey’s piano, drops into a harsh English accent and starts telling Carol the Seamstress’ tale of woe.

The opening song is a cracker, with the ominous presentation of roses as a reminder of domestic abuse; Carol flees the relationship in London, heads to Brighton, and then decides to try and make a new start in France. Her first evening in Nice leads to her sitting alone in a restaurant, being propositioned by multiple men; Aitken’s accents are great, and switching between multiple voices in song doesn’t faze her one bit. In conversation with one of the men, she spins a web of lies, inadvertently adopting the identity of a French Ambassador’s wife, Constantine.

From there, things spiral out of control; Constantine becomes the social darling of the region, sets up her own fashion label, and has her own runway show… until she is found out and very publicly arrested. All is not lost, though, and there’s a romantic and happy ending.

It’s a pretty impressive crowd in The Spiegeltent for this one-off show by local regular Nikki Aitken; and she has a lot of fun with it, engaging the audience in some moments that almost felt pantomimic. Matthew Carey’s piano and (very) occasional singing do the job, and Nikki’s singing is solid – but for me the highlight was the delivery of the original songs. The transitions from spoken-word dialog into song appeared to be almost effortless; it made the performance feel like a considered whole, rather than just a collection of songs bolted around a flimsy framework.

Sure, it’s not the most in-depth story, nor the most compelling performance; but Viva La Franglaise was certainly entertaining enough.

[2011006] It’s A Dad Thing: The Musical

It’s A Dad Thing: The Musical [FringeTIX]

SINGular Productions @ The Opera Studio

2:00pm, Sat 12 Feb 2011

Walking up to The Opera Studio out at Netley (a great space, sullied only by its relatively remote nature), a couple of the cast members – guys in their mid-to-late twenties, maybe? – are having a kick of the footy outside the door. One of them fires off a lazy ocker greeting as I wander past; inside, more cast members are milling around the audience, and it looks like there’s some broad male stereotypes at play: the slick businessman glued to his mobile phone. The ocker guy with the boots, shorts, and Akubra. The young trendy guy.

The musical starts with five men gathering for a local playground working bee; four are fathers, and the fifth is expecting The Call from his wife at any moment. Initial signs were mixed; the opening songs / monologues (songologues?) were clumsy in construction – the almost complete lack of rhyming elements made them feel less like the former, and more like the latter… but the delivery was, clearly, superb. From the outset, it’s clear that these guys really can sing.

But the songs improve at a rapid rate of knots, and before too long I’m genuinely enjoying this; sure, it’s just a collection of amusing and somewhat predictable conversations around the joys and – more often than not – trials of being a father, but it’s all performed with heart… and tongue-in-cheek. The use of a Sherrin football as a makeshift baby, with constant callbacks to the patting-to-sleep ritual, is really well done; there’s a great song that sees the men rocking out with plastic toy instruments and dirty blonde wigs, accentuated by some leaf-blower hair-in-wind special effects. The vasectomy song, while not a surprising topic of conversation for this group, takes an unexpected twist, and the lemon tree story (with one dad’s children burying their own placentas) was bloody funny. The first act ends with a mad scramble after the Expecting man gets The Call, and the others fluster about trying to get him to the hospital.

The (shorter) second act begins with a maniacal imagining of the impending birth; the call was actually a false alarm, and so the men return to complete the work on the playground. And the mood generally becomes a little more gentle, a little sentimental… with the exception of the sex scenes, including some brilliant Bee Gees-inspired falsetto choruses (and champagne popping), and the wonderful theatricality of the First Car song. But there’s a nice, heartwarming finish, and the performance ends perfectly.

Now, I’m most certainly not a Dad, and have resigned myself to the fact that I’m unlikely to ever be one (and that’s fine), so there’s a bit of heartstring-pulling in this show that kind of misses the mark for me – though the poignancy of Lily’s birth (born with brain damage, shattering the father… until he bumps into a mate who lost his daughter at birth) is not lost. But the guys are clearly enjoying themselves onstage, and that enjoyment is infectious. The live band, in full view behind the playground set, are fantastic, and the whole production is just really well put together.

Sure, It’s A Dad Thing is just a collection of common jokes about men and fatherhood – men are the weaker sex, aren’t women awesome, kids are wonderful and heartbreaking – but it’s just so well done that I couldn’t help myself loving it to bits. Oh – and the lemonade (perhaps placenta-aided?) is ace – be sure to try some.

ff2011, Day 3

It’s Day 3, I wake with a storming hangover, and when familiar faces ask me how I’m going, I reply “tired”. I think it’s going to be a long haul; I’m grateful that The Garden is closed tomorrow.

  1. New York Nights… and intimate mornings
  2. Tom Tom Crew
  3. Deborah Frances-White: How To Get Almost Anyone To Want To Sleep With You
  4. Nothing Is Really Difficult: Niets Is Echt Moeilijk
  5. Ali Cook – Pieces of Strange

Memories from today should include collapsing in deck-chairs in the sun; frantically hunting for a non-missing mobile phone; and the constant spurning of spruikers for the Wau Wau Sisters (“Can I pop this flyer in your bag?” “Sure – if you don’t mind losing your arm.”)

Oh – and poffertjes deserve a big mention, too.

I completely forgot to mention one of the Great Things that happened on Friday, before the drunken hordes descended on The Garden: during the BankSA Free Concert part of the evening, there was but a dispersed handful of people gathered around the rotunda. One small child was having a ball of a time, wandering in front of the crowd and dancing away in his own joyful little world, before attempting to climb onstage. Rather than introduce the next act, emcee Asher Treleaven enquired as to the childs name, and narrated A Day in the Life of Oliver. It was ridiculously funny, and astonishingly quick ad-libbing.

[2011005] The Comedy Orphans – Live at The Orphanage

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.

[2011004] Jess Ribeiro and The Bone Collectors

Jess Ribeiro and The Bone Collectors

Jess Ribeiro and The Bone Collectors @ The Spiegeltent

10:00pm, Fri 11 Feb 2011

It’s a weird thing when an artist starts their gig with your favourite song; I recall Head Like A Hole opening with Fish Across Face when they were here in the nineties, and Mr Bungle launching into None Of Them Knew They Were Robots back in 2000. Having your fave song come at the top of the set leaves you delighted that it’s been played, but a teensy bit sad that the sense of expectation has been removed from the performance.

But, when Jess Ribeiro played the opening notes to Pilgrimage, I was just over the moon with joy; it’s such an unbelievably beautiful song, and Ribeiro’s smokey and mournful vocals just draw you in and wrap you up and cuddle you and tell you that everything’s going to be alright but hey there’s some troubling shit out there. That sounds bizarre, I know, but that’s the best way I can describe it.

Playing with a subset of The Bone Collectors (Rob Law played alongside Ribeiro for the whole show on guitar and an odd South American ukelele-sized instrument, with some other chap (sorry, I completely missed his name) joining in on mandolin from time to time), it’s a quiet and moody gig… but with Ribeiro’s unmistakable voice and gentle backup from the two men, there’s a depth and power to the vocals that makes them oh-so-satisfying. The guitar work is amazing, too – Jess’ gentle, almost arpeggiate plucking forms the bass line, with Rob’s precise picking creating clear melodies. The stroking of strings provides a delightfully subtle percussive effect, and… look, it was just amazing. Better yet, they all seemed to be having a great time onstage.

Jess peppers the air between songs with little stories, short introductions; the intro to Robyn Was A Goth was bloody funny, as was the song itself – until you get to the end of the first verse. The other track on the latest single, Stealing My Youth, was also good fun, and their closer was a fantastic rendition of It’ll Come To Pass.

Hopefully it’s obvious that I adore Jess Ribeiro and The Bone Collectors – their rhythms manage to be both gentle and complex, which proves incredibly satisfying to listen to. And Jess’ voice… oh my. I could swim in it naked forever.

But there was a downside to the show: it was delayed by the overblown pomp of Cantina and, as we waited in the disappointingly short queue outside, one of the Garden spruikers was wandering around trying to drum up interest from the drunken throngs entering The Garden: “Jess Ribena,” he cried, “everyone loves him.” The mixing of the gig was wobbling all over the place, the lighting arbitrarily tinkered with, and they were wound up early by the Spiegeltent staff… so the fucking Wau Wau Sisters didn’t start too late. And that just makes me a lot angry, and a little sad: I suspect the band would have taken a bath on this gig, and been treated like shit by their venue.

But the show, though… wonderful.

ff2011, Day 2

A bit of walking, a bit of Garden pottering, and a lot of chatting. Lovely.

  1. It’s a Dad Thing – The Musical
  2. Viva La Franglaise
  3. Sam Simmons & The Precise History of Things
  4. Asher Treleaven, Secret Door
  5. Tony Roberts – Late Night Ace High

I had a funny anecdote from last night to relay, but I’m too tired right now. Tomorrow. Maybe. I’m trying to drag my sleep pattern into Fringe mode.

[2011003] Cantina

Cantina [FringeTIX]

Company Cantina @ The Spiegeltent

8:30pm, Fri 11 Feb 2011

Fifteen minutes before Cantina is due to start, and the lines are huge – and the plural is correct there, because The Garden don’t have a cohesive plan for the Spiegeltent queue yet, so the twin snakes of confused patrons manage to double-block the Friday-night flow of people coming into The Garden. That’s okay – it took them a while to sort out the queues last year, too – but there’s much grumbling and muttering amongst the peeps around me.

Even now, waiting for its opening performance, it’s pretty clear that Cantina will be the big-ticket draw-card at The Garden this year; I started chatting to the people around me, asking them what drew them to the show. “Advertising,” said one couple; “we thought it might be the next La Clique,” said another. And I guess that, truth be told, I sided with the latter there; I, too, thought this would be the next buzz-show, the one that everyone raves about, the one that defines the Fringe. So I thought I’d squeeze it in on opening night, when there may be less people in the crowd.

Wrong. There were a few spare seats in the Spiegeltent, but not many; and, despite having the advantage of being by my lonesome, the single seat I chose was possibly one of the worst in the house: straight inside the door, looking parallel to the steel tightrope to the central stage, behind the big-headed chap who constantly seemed to turn in his seat to maximally impede my potential view.


With a twang of ukelele and a twee song, a tightrope act opens the show; He (David Carberry) balances and descends, She (Chelsea McGuffin) tackles the wire in high heels. There’s a bit of a dance, a dash of Henna Kaikula‘s flexible form, Daniel Catlow and Carberry slap each other around for a bit, and Mozes presents a bit of cheeky naked hanky-hiding magic. McGuffin walks across the tops of wine bottles, Kaikula performs more bendable antics on a bed of broken glass… and then it’s over.

And I leave the Spiegeltent very unaffected… because it’s all so very familiar.

Why’s it so familiar, then? Well, look at that cast – Carberry (who didn’t look at all confident all night) and Catlow hail from Tom Tom Club. Mozes brought his hanky-hiding and roller-skating from Acrobat. Musician Nara Demasson (whose lovely singing, ukelele and guitar playing was supplemented by some fantastic moody ambient pre-recorded stuff) was in Vulgargrad. In short, it felt like I’d seen it all before because… well, I’d seen it all before.

Now, don’t get me wrong – there’s still some great entertainment to be had, and the prominent use of high-heels was certainly novel. And if you haven’t seen any of the abovementioned acts (or even La Clique), then you’re in for a treat. But the “cantina” motif (and its presumably Spanish inclinations) feels underdeveloped, and fails to create a coherent package. The rest of the crowd may have loved it (though someone waiting outside told me “no-one left smiling”), but colour me somewhat disappointed.

(Oh – if you do go to see Cantina, try to get a seat at three o’clock in the Spiegeltent (assuming the entrance is at six o’clock)).

[2011002] Wanderlust

Wanderlust [FringeTIX]

Martin Dockery @ The Spare Room

7:00pm, Fri 11 Feb 2011

Just prior to wandering into The Spare Room, Shelley had asked me why I had picked this show; the main reason was… well, a bit silly. You see, one of the very first Fringe shows I attended (waaaaay back in 1998) was also called Wanderlust – so it was purely name-recognition nostalgia that drove me to select this show. And that’s a little bit silly, because “Wanderlust” would have to be the most popular name for any Fringe piece ever, I reckon – and it was hardly likely to be the same show now, was it?

That, and the fact that the Guide blurb read “a man demands an Epiphany. Any Epiphany at all.” Which was pretty bloody intriguing, too.

Martin Dockery takes to the stage with little fanfare, eyes the fifteen or twenty people in The Spare Room (there’s still no leg room in there), and launches into his four-act monologue. He opens with The Great Story Opener, the introduction he assures us will draw all dinner-party attention to you; he’s travelling through the Sahara with a couple who are waiting for the perfect time to become engaged. Their impending confirmation is used as a springboard for an analysis of his own feelings of love, which are threaded through several stories of his travels through Western Africa.

Wander… Lust. Ah – I get it now.

His tales are, to put it mildly, very entertaining. Starting with his dead-end New York “temp” job, he comes to the realisation that he should be doing the stuff that he was put on Earth to do, rather than just waiting for the “right” time to do it… so he heads over to Africa, gets subjected to dangerously sleazy tourist abuse, survives a horrendous bifurcating explosive illness, inadvertently becomes a beatboxing hero, swims on a land-mine-esque sting-ray-ridden beach, and visits a psycho-sexually charged zoo… all the while trying to understand his current relationship with Megan, and realising the effects of his interactions with Kate.

New Yorker Martin Dockery is a wonderful storyteller, though I have to admit I was a little concerned early on when he appeared to be rapid-firing himself hoarse (a quick swig of water between every act kept that under control, though). His east-coast accent plays with a hippie-esque drawl, and sentences often end with an enticing and lingering question… or a punctuative “maaaaan”. It’s a delicious delivery that has you hanging on every word; and the stories themselves are wonderful little self-contained units, with the “alternate universe” Martin making a regular – and welcome – appearance, as he looks at key decisions that may have significantly changed his life.

Was Wanderlust a perfect show? Well, no – there didn’t seem to be enough cohesion between four acts, though it’s only afterthought that has formed that idea in my mind – I was well impressed with the show upon leaving, despite the somewhat abrupt ending. And, being opening night, the lighting was still… ummm… being workshopped – blaring during quiet bits, dimming for the daytime. But, regardless, Dockery focusses on the idea of doing, rather than just simply being – and that’s a great premise for any show as well-delivered as this.

[2011001] Songs to Make You Smile

Songs to Make You Smile [FringeTIX]

Lili La Scala @ The Spiegeltent

5:00pm, Fri 11 Feb 2011

So it’s the first show of the year, and Lili La Scala has always always been very friendly to me; and, with Songs to Make You Smile being the earliest gig offered by The Garden for the evening, I figured there would be no better way to start my Fringe. And Lili purposefully – but with a refined elegance – takes to the stage, with bright coppery hair and in a cheery pink dress with white hearts… she’s cute as a button. She’s joined by local pianist Daniel Brunner, who tinkles the ivories admirably throughout.

As with last year’s War Notes, I have to admit that this isn’t really my type of music – and yet nearly every song was recognisable. Makin’ Whoopee makes an early appearance, Lili gets over-excited when she tackles the Gracie Fields segment of her set, and Cole Porter also gets a sizeable look-in, with It’s De-Lovely and The Physician getting some great renditions (the latter being related to Lili’s sexy orthodontist story, as she flashes her perfect teeth). But there’s a few songs that were completely new to me: Second Hand and (Lili’s Dad’s favourite) The Lonely Oyster were cheeky little numbers that couldn’t fail to make you laugh.

Throughout, Lili’s pure, operatic singing is wonderful – she soars and roams her range with ease – and her little theatrical flourishes during Flanders & Swann‘s The Warthog were an absolute delight. And, aside from a short sojourn into the moodier (but still wonderfully performed) Dark Music, pretty much every song was indeed a smile-maker. But the real joy from the performance was watching Lili and Daniel at work… even though it was their first performance of this show together, and they looked a touch wooden onstage, they were both clearly enjoying themselves. Sure, there appeared to be a few tempo tweaks during some songs, with subtle little taps on the piano their only overt communication. And Lili did drop a few lines in one of her favourite George Formby songs – but it’s hard to find fault when her self-admonishment is a ridiculously cute tight-fisted exclamation of “oh… balls“… and the crowd gave her a rapturous applause at the end of the song.

Lili was clearly less-than-chuffed with her own performance, apologising profusely towards the end of the performance; indeed, as she thanked people at the door as we left the Spiegeltent, she approached me with mock anger: “you had to come to the first show!” she quietly fumed. But that, too, was yet another moment worthy of a broad grin; because I had a great time at this show, and Lili’s passion for perfection was just the icing on the cake.

ff2011, Day 1

Day One of another month-long assault… a self-contained reminder of all that’s good and bad about The Garden.

  1. Songs to Make You Smile
  2. Wanderlust
  3. Cantina
  4. Jess Ribeiro and The Bone Collectors
  5. The Comedy Orphans – Live at The Orphanage

They’ve not quite figured out the queues for the Spiegeltent yet; the first session of Cantina wound up with twin snakes of grumpy patrons after the doors opened a lazy 45 minutes late. This had the knock-on effect of making (the wonderful, wonderful) Jess Ribeiro start late, and she was given the early wind-up to help the next show start on time. Harrumph.

My word, there was some booze flowing there tonight, though. Bloody freezing it was, too.

Another Year, Another Fringe…

So – another year, another Fringe… and, as has been the case for the past couple of years, I’ve been very blasé about the lead-up… I picked up the Guide late, only finished plugging data into The Shortlist spreadsheet last weekend, and have only stuck in a solitary round of tickets so far.

But, less than an hour from the start of my first show of the year, I’m getting a bit excited :)

Last night saw The Garden’s opening party; and, for as much as I go on about how The Garden is having an adverse affect on the Fringe, it’s always a little bit of a thrill to wander into The Garden during this week before the opening parade (or, as I like to call it, “Pre-Week”). And so Irene and I wandered around the new, seemingly more spacious, layout, mentally making notes on the locations of the venues, gawking with nervous glee at the FlyMotion Bubbles of Fun, and spotting and renaming all the bars – the Cinderella Bar, the Broom-broom Bar, the Barbar Bar. There’s a more professional feel about the place that somehow manages to feel more gaudy… but that’s offset by the deckchairs, which are ace.

So – a reasonable place to spend much of the next week, then.

Other snippets before the Fringe gets underway and I get drowned in a torrent of posts… The Adelaide Post picked one of my recent posts as part of their series of Fringe-related posts, which was mighty enchuffening. And I got not one, but two massive grins from spotting snippets of this blog in the Guide this year, with Freefall and So You Think You Can Get F#%ked Up borrowing my words… which is awesome. I love the idea that my words may (emphasis on the “may”) help a performer :)