Stag & Sober is not the name of the new pub I am opening, rather it is how I attended Thursday Comedy @ European Bier Café (120 Exhibition St, Melbourne). Set on the first level of the venue (up one flight of stairs), I was greeted by two acts for the night Ben Lomas and Karl Chandler, paid my $12 entry fee and found a spot for the 8:30pm start.
A relaxed and informal mood appeared to have taken over the venue and the attendees. I have not been to a packed house at the venue before, but it was clear that seats away from the stage were at a premium. Particularly, the booths and tables at the back filled up quickly; however, those few rows closest to the stage remained abandoned for the duration of the night. There is a good intimacy to the venue so if a comedian wants to engage the audience then there is plenty of opportunity and the audience’s proximity to the stage helps facilitate this.
Now, as always, onto the comedy!
Our MC for the night Ben Lomas was a friendly and approachable host. It’s clear he enjoys what he does and gets a thrill from an enthusiastic and riled up crowd! Ben had good confidence in his set and his commentary and impersonation of Weight Watchers meeting attendees was hauntingly hilarious. Despite the lack of appreciation for his part in the Comedy Channel’s ‘Open Slather’, and finishing his first bit on an awkward note, Ben did a solid job with a crowd eager to heckle.
Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall (ATB) was a welcome appearance! Having never seen him perform before, I was not sure how to take his offbeat and quirky comedy style. Nevertheless, ATB put forward a short but memorable set.
Freshly announced host of Comedy Channel’s Whose Line Is It Anyway Australia, Tommy Little also made an appearance at Thursday Comedy. I appreciate it when a comic is up front that they’re working with new material as there is something enjoyable about watching a comedian play through ideas. Tommy knew where his set landed and where it didn’t but also had the skill to work with the crowd to make the best of it. An issue that complicated the opportunity to riff new material were less than helpful hecklers. While many may disagree, as an audience member I’m a big fan of the ‘speak when spoken to’ rule, or in special circumstances, heckling with guaranteed zingers. If you’re a heckler and you yell out to explain the punch line that was just offered up to you, you’re going to have a bad time: “Perry… it’s like the sauce”. *face-palm*
Little Dum Dum Club’s Karl Chandler offered ten jokes (give or take) up to the audience for their enjoyment. A big part of Karl’s stand up that I enjoy is his audience interaction and his experience with hecklers. However, when dealing with a back row of mumbling hecklers, it really doesn’t offer much for the comedian on stage to work with. Karl made a point of offering too much power to the audience by giving them a voice, and he was spot on. If the hecklers are offering something, it can be worthwhile, but there comes a point where a comic has to abandon audience interaction and finish with scripted material, which Karl did.
Who dares speak while ‘The Boss’ is on stage? Nick Cody smashed out a quality set drawn from his Melbourne International Comedy Festival show 'Come Get Some'. But seriously, who has a chat while a comedian is performing on stage? Not trying to point fingers or anything but YES YOU SEATS IN THE BACK - have your conversation another time. If the comedian can hear your muttering dialogue, it’s too loud. Nick pushed through this and was the standout performance of the night.
THE MOONMAN IS IN THE BUILDING! I thoroughly enjoy seeing Australian comedians who have been in the industry for so many years. I was particularly keen to see how the seasoned professional and headliner Lawrence Mooney approached the short set. Despite swearword and dick-joke punch lines appearing to appeal most to the semi-intoxicated audience, Mooney’s observations of marriage and his topical political satire finished off the night well. Mooney has more depth to offer than basic crudeness and it is his life experiences and commanding stage presence that amplifies his comedy.
While it has no affiliation to this website, worth checking out some great shots from the night @joeblander.