Over four consecutive Sundays at the Brisbane Powerhouse, the Turbine Platform has staged the ‘Convince Me!’ debates which were open to the public with free admittance.
On 25 March, the final debate took place where the topic was 'Privacy Is Worth Fighting For'.
The two teams of three selected to argue the case were a mixed bag of academics, comedians and sketch comedy improvisers.
Moderating the event was Natalie Bochenski of ImproMafia fame and she wasn’t the only member present. There was a relaxed atmosphere in the air, the platform wasn’t cordoned off in any way and people could come and go freely setting up drinks and food on tables. Some leaving once they’d finished their snack rather than when the debate was won.
Whenever a crowd entered or exited a nearby venue, the increased din of their congregating had to be spoken over by the person debating at that moment. A missing lectern delayed the show starting on time and a microphone stand refused to cooperate throughout. If you had paid good money you might have been disappointed but Bochenski mustered up all her skills and got us rolling, nudging the crowd with bad puns and quipping about the microphone.
The first two debaters from both sides made solid arguments but the show really took off when comedian Jenny Wynter for the positive side stepped up and immediately injected some much-needed energy and humour in the set. She was clearly the stand-out of the night. Nonetheless, the following debaters seemed to benefit from the new energy in the room and closing arguments continued to raise a few chuckles.
If you’re familiar with the televised comedy debates from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival you can’t help but compare. Those debates are full of riffing, interruptions from both teams to the other and also solidly put-together arguments. Yet those all feature superstars who get who knows how much preparation before the night. Here, the teams were given a little over an hour to prepare their arguments and some are not regular performers. So it should be noted that everybody kept themselves relaxed on stage, persevered through unexpected challenges and showed natural comic timing.
Compared to some of the shows you could take in at the Brisbane Comedy Festival this was not destined to be a highlight but as a free piece of entertainment on a casual Sunday afternoon it got many laughs.