Best of the Fest (US, UK & Ireland) (FringeTIX)
Dave Johns, Andrew Stanley, Eddie Ifft @ Arts Theatre
7:45pm, Thu 22 Mar 2007
One of approximately 37 “Best of the Fest” shows at the Fringe this year, this one made The Shortlist on the basis that I’d heard good things of Eddie Ifft. That, and I love the Arts Theatre – it really is a lovely venue. And I could just wodge this show in – as long as it ran on time. So I asked the lady manning the Box Office “are they sticking pretty much to schedule, finishing around 9pm?” She replied, completely unhelpfully, “oh yes, they usually start wrapping up about quarter-to-half-past nine.”
Shit. This might require a cab-hop to the next show.
Dave Johns comes on to emcee. Late, I noted, when glancing at my watch for the first of four hundred times during the show. The crowd murmur dies. This likable (UK) Novocastrian sadly didn’t get much response from the audience, but let loose with some wonderful jokes on orgies, hitchhiker killing, and audience explanations. A very stop-start style, which can create uncomfortable periods of silence, but his “Arts Theatre burnt down in 1974″ comeback for the dead crowd was priceless. Buying presents for Goldfinger? Talk to Dave.
Irish newcomer Andrew Stanley comes out, and the audience immediately warms to him with tales of cricket. His rapid-fire banter about drunken happenings keeps things bubbling along, and – when every single one of his audience interaction bits takes an interesting twist (couples that aren’t, baldies are charity driven, people answering for other people, “you work as a CAR?!?”, psychiatry gone wrong), Stanley spends about as much time laughing as we do – and that makes for a massively entertaining set. Fabulous, fabulous stuff, and he’s made the “must-see” list for future Fringes.
The massive applause for Stanley as leaves the stage is soon muted by Johns’ return – “you’re enjoying yourself too much; Danny Bhoy’s been complaining about the laughter.” We soon learn that genocide is, actually, worse than Spam… but, once again, he remains criminally under-appreciated. He does ham that up, though, before introducing New Yorker Eddie Ifft.
Ifft is… ummm… a crude comedian. He starts with tales of masturbating on a homeless man on a bus, then proclaimed “if you didn’t like that, it gets much worse.” Australian mannerisms – speaking “orgasm”, cracking fats, and our white society – come in for some brilliant treatment; and then the tongue-in-cheek racist jokes start. And the heroin-smuggling baby jokes. He doesn’t delve into any topic too deeply, but he’s got a certain edge to him, and is definitely worth a look. But, towards the end of his set, a female audience member posed Ifft a (serious) socio-political question about the legal age of drinking in America; Eddie had the best response ever – “How fucking stupid is this fucking question?” Spot on, friend.
Sadly, I had to bolt out the door as soon as Ifft finished his spot, so I didn’t get to hear Johns’ wrapup for the night – which possibly included mocking of the short tubby guy running for the exit. I ran out onto Angas Street, hailed a passing cab who must have anticipated the short ride and sped away as I approached. Down to the Hilton, into a cab, apologising for the short ride to the Mercury. Cabbie seemed intent to maximise time waiting in the car, catching every red light he could. And then I discovered that I only had a fifty in my wallet. Which meant I had a yelling match with a cabbie and a $20 in one-dollar coins in my pocket as I ran into the Mercury.
Anyhoo – “Best of the Fest”? I think not. But this show was worth it for Andrew Stanley’s hysterics alone. That’s not to marginalise the contributions of Johns and Ifft – they’re all ace. And this is one of the few shows that kicks over onto April 1, so it’s not a bad bet really. As Dave Johns himself said, “What’s that Best of the Fest like? Well, it’s alright – if you like laughing.”