Fringe Benefit
A whole bunch o' people @ Adelaide Town Hall
12:00pm, Sun 26 Feb 2006
Whilst proceeds from ticket sales to this gig went to charities (Catherine House, The Magdalene Centre, and The Big Issue), I had an entirely selfish reason for attending this event. See, at the start of every Fringe I create a list of all the acts that I'd like to see, and then try to squeeze then into my schedule, cunningly entitled "The Schedule". And most comedy shows are on at about the same times, somewhere between 7pm and 10pm. So this year, I thought I'd try to weed out some of the more dubious acts by seeing them in a short-form benefit such as this.
Mags Moore was our MC for the day and, to the groans of many, introduced Jane Lomax-Smith. Thankfully, she read the room well, and after a really short speech we were into the comedians:
- Ian Coppinger provided a solid guffaw or ten; a good opener.
- Peter Helliar & Em O'Loughlin raised a smirk or two, but that's about all. Actually, "two" might be generous; but hey, it's for charity.
- Bruno Lucia was an eye-opener; his bit, though mired in italian stereotyping, was well worth it, and the country guitar thingy at the end was bloody brilliant.
- Adam Vincent impressed, with his tales of "quite negative" cat abuse; he described himself as "negative and dark", which sounds great; but he didn't seem to excel at either enough for me to warrant inclusion in The Schedule.
- Lehmo's set (focused on the Bali 9 and Corby incidents) was the best set I've ever seen him do.
- Akmal was ace - again, leveraging his ethnicity, but not overtly so.
- Des Clark - mind-boggingly brilliant. Really. One to add to The Schedule. Oh bugger, he's on at the Governor Hindmarsh. Maybe not, then.
- Fiona O'Loughlin was much better than I thought she would be. Short set, but well constructed.
After an interval, Benefit Director Amanda Blair appeared onstage - despite having given birth at 7:30am, less than 7 hours earlier. She announced that the benefit had raised over $56,000. Everyone cheered. And then we're back into the action:
- Wil Anderson's act appeared to benefit from the "early in the day" aspect of the Benefit; he'd not had time to thoroughly pollute his system with neuromodifiers to the extent that he becomes a gibbering idiot. Plenty of re-used material, though.
- Arj Barker appeared a bit flat; that dropped him down a few pegs in the priority stakes.
- Tom Gleeson did surprisingly well; I was expecting him to be crap, but he surprised with a well-crafted bit.
- Maeve Higgins… never heard of her. Gentle and inoffensive, with a lovely accent.
- Justin Hamilton was shit, shit, shit. All drug jokes, and not a single good 'un amongst them. Ripping off Larry Miller's "5 Stages of Drinking" bit is unforgivable, doubly so when it's done so poorly. Ugh, he's off The Schedule… forever.
- Nick Sun, on the other hand, was brilliant. Self-deprecating, reflective, bloody funny. Added to The Schedule.
- Kehau Jackson was pretty good too, with her tales of mastectomy and whatnot.
- Greg Fleet raised my hopes for a quality show this year: he's gone all political! "I'm More Australian Than Youse" was a great song, too.
And then Stephen K Amos takes the stage. And suddenly, you've forgotten all who have gone before him. The man is, quite simply, a comedy genius; he had the entire audience in fits of laughter, except for maybe his audience mark, Jack. Poor Jack. Poor Jack's parents, who'll have some uncomfortable explaining to do. But what a great exhibition of stand-up for the rest of the audience.
So there you have it. Four hours of uneven comedy, but at least it ended on a very high high. And how did it affect my Schedule? One stricken, one added, one re-prioritised. Mission… uh… accomplished.