If the Sydney Opera House had a face, it would have resembled Luna Park for the Comedy Festival Gala.
The Concert Hall was the setting for the gala of the 13th annual Sydney Comedy Festival. It was a rollicking night of fun with 16 local and international acts making us laugh and fly from the seats of our pants.
Host and MC Rhys Nicholson proved to be a delightful combination of cheekiness and sarcasm. He promised us an amazing night of comedy and dazzled us with his glittery jacket that was quote, “weaved out of the nightmares of Cory Bernardi”. Nicholson spoke about his anxiety and long-term boyfriend and we were all on-board for his unashamedly camp charm.
Pajama Men – Image © Anneliese Nappa
Craig Hill was the first act and was an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza. He sashayed onto the stage in his purple kilt while casually singing pop lyrics, flirting with a man in the front row and having digs at his Scottish heritage in an amusing set.
David O’Doherty was another early favourite of the night and was decked out in active-wear that he had dubbed the “roadside spectator at the 1987 Tour De France.” He used his trademark keyboard to punctuate jokes about 'Border Security' and killing all celebrities named David. His approach was a very different one to Dane Baptiste’s brash and angry man slot. Dane talked about his ex-girlfriend, commitment issues and said he’d imagined what it was like to throw himself down the stairs in order to lose your memory like the old lady in 'The Notebook'.
The night had some departures from traditional stand-up with Pajama Men performing some strange physical comedy (some involving the word 'gross') while Peter and Bambi Heaven performed an enthusiastic magician’s act gone wrong. Neither of these two acts were particularly funny in the traditional sense.
Ivan Aristegiueta – Image © Anneliese Nappa
Anna Klinge performed some puppetry using her feet and hands and proved an incredibly clever and versatile performer by showing us a “couple” meeting and falling in love to a medley of pop tunes. Jason Byrne was his mad-cap self and brought three poor male souls on-stage, forcing them to wear horse masks and marching them into a makeshift pen. The volunteers got their own back by confusing the bejesus out of the comedian at a few points.
Acts like Ivan Aristeguieta and Stephen K Amos joked about race and heritage. In Aristeguieta’s case he did a good impersonation of his traditional, Spanish grandma who is pained at how 'Australianised' her grandson has become. Amos meanwhile, lorded it up as the six foot two strapping man who lives in inner city South London. Papa CJ also played on his Indian heritage in a set that proved witty and peppered with some great one liners like: “In England you drive on the left of the road, in Calcutta we drive on what’s left of the road!”
Mae Martin used her slot to joke about the end of her long-term relationship, her fluid sexuality and Tinder. Susie Youssef also made a mention of her relationship status joking, “I am expecting” (queue a long pause and cheers) before she adds, “..to die alone.” These slots proved quite revealing and honest to say the least.
Mae Martin – Image © Anneliese Nappa
Daniel Sloss seemed chuffed with himself that he’d managed to make two abortion jokes at the Opera House during his short set. In a similar vein, Des Bishop joked about period sex and you got the sense that some of the acts were lapping up being the naughty kids in such a prestigious and landmark venue.
The Sydney Comedy Festival Gala had been an enjoyable, varied and funny night. There was a little something for everyone as the court jesters took hold and decided to shake up and stir the highfalutin air of Sydney’s great landmark.