Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Things that go ping in the night

 So the black box no longer pings. We can make a box that will survive almost any disaster that befalls an aircraft but we cannot make a decent battery. We can land a man on the moon but we can not make a good long life battery. Maybe that is why the moon land conspiracy theorists are so dogged. It would make more sense, the other way around. We can not make a battery that holds its charge, no wonder they had to fake the moon landing.

It may also calm the nerves of countless iPhone users the world over who are continuously frustrated at the battery that does not last 24 hours

Thankfully Courtney Love has also stopped pinging in relation to this disaster mystery.

A “ping” is important. With out a ping, table tennis is just pong and there is a reason why it is now hard to find a version of this1970s arcade game. Without a ping the 1933 children’s duck-related fable would be merely The Story About…”

Monty Python’s Meaning of Life made famous machines that go ping. In that case it was to impress the administrator of the hospital that the medical team were doing a good job. I personally have never worked out in a hospital whether you want to be attached to a machine that goes ping, or not. If you are do you want a machine that pings when everything is going well or one that pings when there is a problem?

As Kramer suggested in Seinfeld: The Heart Attack you do not want to end up with a hose coming out of your chest attached to a piece of luggage.

What is unusual in the search for MH370 is that there does not appear to be any debris in the search area as identified by the “pings”. Not one piece of the aircraft itself, no wing tip, nose cone or food service trolley and not a single piece of luggage.

Ukraine has reportedly trained dolphins and other marine mammals to plant sea mines and kill frogmen. Famously in Russia’s take over of the Crimean peninsula the dolphins have changed nationalities. It must be difficult for a dolphin not to smile in its passport photo. Perhaps these military training sea creatures could use their natural sonar and tracking skills to find the lost plane, its passengers and cargo. Maybe then Putin would have something really worth Pinging about.

Just quietly part of the problem might be that they are look for a box box whilst the in-flight recorder is neither black nor a box!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Melbourne International Comedy Festival Week #4

This is the final week of the 2014 festival - don't miss out

Dave Callan A Little Less Conversation
To be honest when I left the house to see some festival shows tonight I did not expect I would be seeing Dave Callan's show. I also did not expect it to be so funny. The show is the perfect mix of dance comedy and viking. Callan and his dancing girls take the audience through the history of dance. Callan is surprisingly nimble and knows how to work the stage and his audience.

The Comedy Zone
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival has hand picked 5 emerging comedic talents from around the country, as expected in a such a showcase some of the comedians have emerged ore than others. Aaron Chen (NSW) - previous Class Clown winner - delivers a strong set working his nervous schtick for some great laughs. I can't wait to see Geoffrey Windle (QLD) in a full hour solo show.

Wolf Creek The Musical
One of Australia's great horror mysteries is turned into a musical. A comedy musical. Damn it is good. The amateur nature of the acting and staging is all part of its charm and a strong part of the humour. The performers ham it up delivering sensational one liners and poke fun at some of the major plot points of the movie. If only all product placements were this funny. One of the death scenes is very Monty Python-esque and just as funny.

Stella Young Tales From the Crip
I have not seen such a strong opening to a comedy show for along time. This is an hour of jokes you will be repeating on your way home and you will never look at the carrot section of your local fruit and veg shop the same way again. Stella skilfully confronts the taboo of being a "cripple" people in a "normal" world.

Ronny Chieng Chieng Reaction
Ronny is annoyed. A lot, About everything. The more mundane the better. No one performs an angry yelly rant quite like Ronny. He is the big thing in Aussie comedy at the moment. Buy his CD, MP4 or long play vinyl! Last arrival to his show - 48 minutes into a 60 minute show!

Kevin Bridges Live
Kevin is a UK comedy superstar. Sure he is a potty mouth but damn he is funny. Well mainly - I missed some of his material because I just could not understand his accent, which was my loss. Resplendent in a suit, his comedy is pub storytelling at its finest.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Melbourne International Comedy Festival Week #3

Perfect Tripod Australian Songs
This could be one of the best shows I have seen. Never has 4 part all male a cappella sounded so good. Eddie Perfect and the Tripod boys combine to perform unique renditions of some Australian music greatest hits. The banter between (and sometimes during the songs) was perfectly timed and funny. Some unexpectedly funny moments were built into the lyrics of these re-worked anthems  It has been a long time sines I have participated in a standing ovation. I even bruised my hand from clapping so much. They are NOT a boy band. Don't stop the harmony!

The Underlads Cock(pit) Malfunction
The duo play the role of flight attendants, or is it in flight customer service officers and the audience are the passengers. Some cleverly planned props. A great premise for a comedy show unfortunately timed considering missing flight MH370.

Angus Hodge Finding My Rose-coloured Glasses
Hodge cleverly weaves a number of narratives from his won life. This is not a "break-up" show. The small room at The Forum and Hodge's relaxed delivery makes for an intimate and enjoyable hour of comedy.

Bob Franklin Steven Gates & Roz Hammond The Writers
This is sketch comedy at its best. Franklin, Gates (Gatesy from Tripod) & Hammond bring together all of their comedy and acting skills for this show that is laugh out loud from beginning to end. Some of the funniest moments were from a facial expression or subtle body movement. The team prove that laid back and subtle comedy is just as funny if not funnier that loud and frantic performances. I am not sure if they skilfully broke the fourth wall or if it never existed in the first place. If it is possible to ham it up and underplay the role at the same time then these three seasoned performers achieved it.

Milton Jones
Jones is an expert in the deadpan online pun. This is how dad-jokes should be delivered. My face hurt from laughing I was exhausted at the end of the hour. He uses an overhead projector (remember those?) to put a simple but highly effective visual layer to one section of his show. He interacts with the audience maintaining complete control for some of his biggest laughs.

Tim Vine The Chat Show
Another master of the pun.  He breaks the golden rule of comedy by not only inviting audience members onto stage but also giving them a microphone as Vine hosts his version of a chat show. The night I was there the audience members on stage were not offering him much to work with but just when it felt the show might unravel Vine hits out with some hilarious word play and quick-fire puns.

Denise Scott Mother Bare
Quite rightly Scotty has been nominated for the 2014 Barry Award. No-one tells a story quite like Denise Scott. She again sets a bench mark for all other comedians to attempt to attain. Mother Bare is an abridged autobiography. Scotty weaves the stories together with simple projections, wildly funny physical comedy and hilarious interactions with the large and adoring audience. Whilst not unexpected her audience is somewhat older than many shows at this year's festival, that said there is no reason why all ages would not find this one of the best shows in 2014

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Melbourne International Comedy Festival - Week #2

Another week of shows...

Stephen Hall, Raiders of the Temple of Doom's Last Crusade so you wanted to watch all original three of the Indiana Jones movies but your vcr/dvd/internet is broken? Get to this show and watch one man do them all. It is very silly - but when you are doing a farce of a movie franchise that is itself a farce it has to be silly. Some clever visual gags. The better you know the movies the funnier this show will be.

Pat Burtscher's Overwhelmed Pat is my surprise find so far in this year's festival. To be honest I only went to this show because it was on at the time I was looking for a show and it was close by. But so glad I went I laughed beginning to end. Pat is a philosopher, in the same way a taxi driver is. He wants the world to be simpler and happier. Ignore the fact that this show is playing in a ramshackle of a room in a warehouse and get out to see this.

Geraldine Quinn MDMA: Modern Day Maiden Art  I was still laughing about this show days after seeing it. Geraldine performs music comedy like no other. The show is built on a narrative and the songs add as much to the laughs as they do to the story. Her audiences should be as big as her voice.

Elbowskin's POV The nice guys of Melbourne comedy do it again. Their laid back style, easy interactions with their audience, the harmonies and Dave and Ern's own sense of enjoyment in what they do all add to make this a strong show full of laughs. It is not about anything - just funny. Oh and I won a packet of Cheetos! Playing at the Forum, it does appear they are playing under the stairs.

Shappi Khorsandi Shappi is Iranian who has and many opportunities on UK television and radio. This is sort of a meandering story with a lot of strong laughs. The best material was when Shappi played with the audiences prejudices and stereotypes - in the nicest possible way.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Melbourne International Comedy Festival - Week 1

Shows I have seen so far

Ryan Coffey - the master of the loop pedal has the voice perfect for a power rock ballad and the beard of a bushranger. Master of the loop pedal. The show is a mix of songs and stand up, some old and new material.

Boy With Tape on His Face - pure genius mining comedy gold from what appears to be a random collection of everyday items as he uses them in a series perfectly timed sketches. Not a word is spoken. Lots of audience participation and interaction. Even more laughs.

The Big Hoo-Haa - a strong and confident improvisation group. Playing a series of improvisation games where everything is made up. Anything can happen and probably will. There is no amplification so move to the front to make sure you do not miss any of the surprising lines. Not every game works out perfectly, but like travel the comedy of improvisation is as mush in the journey as it is the destination.

The Festival Club - different line up every night with a mix of Australian and international artist representing all comedy genres. Bob Franklin as funny and dry as ever - a few audience members were on the verge of choking due to laughter at his set. Dave Callan always prepared to do whatever it takes to get a laugh, and always gets the laugh. Geraldine Quinn consummate performer still the comedy rock goddess. David O'Doherty (UK)  a toy yamaha keyboard was not to meant to be so funny. A perennial favourite of the festival, the crowd loves him and with very good reason. Jen Kirkman (USA) she is brash, she is bold, she is sassy. She is American but god she is funny. It is a big room with hundreds in the audience including a lot of comics that have finished work for the night and just want to relax and drink but the whole room was with her. This room always sells out.

Australian Knights and Dames


Prime Minister Tony Abbott has used the prerogative of his office to reinstate the honours of Knights and Dames to honour people who have accepted public office rather than sought it and who can never...ever entirely return to private life.

The first recipients of this award are, outgoing Governor General Dame Quentin Bryce and the newly appointed Sir Goverrnor General General Peter Cosgrove (that is one hell of a title to fit on a business card).

Here are my suggestions for other recipients of the honour, Knights and Dames of the Order of Australia.

Dick Smith, sure he has sought public life but he has also had public life thrust upon him. He is a great Australia explorer, entrepreneur and philanthropist who staunchly promotes buying Australian a time when even the Prime Minister himself was not made in Australia. Besides who would not enjoy hearing the queen asking a dick to kneel before her prior to the dick to arise.

Clare Werbeloff aka DameChk Chk Boom should be honoured for her contribution to Australian comedy. Her simplistic decryption of her eye witness account of a shooting in Kings Cross, Sydney, shot her to international prominence and provided instant fodder for the nation's comedians. When it was discovered that she in fact did not witness the shooting at all but instead had totally made up her version of events the satarists went into overdrive.

Dame Sam the Koala, rescued by Mark Pardew a firefighter with the Department of Sustainability and Environment during the 2009 Black Saturday bush fires in Victoria. Famously Mark assisted Dame Sam to drink from his water bottle. Sam has since died from an inoperable ovarian cyst, but during her short public life she represented the hope and resilience of all the people rebuilding their lives after the death and destruction of Australia's worst disaster.

Skippy, little did the mother of the eastern grey kangaroo know that she had birthed and raised what would become one of Australia's best known and beloved stars. There was nothing Skippy could not do, open doors, use the CB radio, rescue people from dished mine shafts...she even played the drums! Bestowing this honour on Skippy would also go a long way in equality for the GBLTI community, being that the kangaroo was female and yet the character was male.

Louise, Bridget and Frances Abbott, Prime Minister Abbott's three daughters have all had a public life forced upon them through the political ambitions of their father. The Australian public have had to witness them supporting their father. Riding, bikini-clad, on their fathers back piggy back style (and not as young children). When other young adults might be embarrassed having dinner in a restaurant with their parents the Abbotts have had to endure their father publicly declaring his strongly held opinions of a woman's role within a family and about sex before marriage. During his election campaign they also had their awkward-at-best appearance alongside their father on Big Brother Australia. Mr Abbott was desperately trying to demonstrate that he is in touch with young people and common Australians. He famously signed off with the phrase "I am the guy with the not too bad-looking daughters." Thanks for the vote of confidence Dad. Its the not too bad-looking Dames to you!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2014 - A Suggestion

So you have the catalogue for the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival and have realised there are over 500 shows and you have no idea where to start. Here are a few suggestions. First of all for every famous act (international artist, television, radio personality or podcast) you go see you have to see a lesser known act - they may just see the next big thing in Australian comedy!

With these suggestions please remember that comedy is an art form and all art is subjective. Just because one person loves/hates the performance does not mean that others will respond the same. Important when reading published reviews too.

Elbow Skin's P.O.V.

Two of Melbourne's most likeable music comedy performers. Great harmonies lots of laughs. Dave and Ern always pull out something special for the festival. This year they are performing at the Forum on Flinders Street.

Axis of Awesome Viva La Vida Loca Las Vegas
Always strong performances and hilarious songs. This trio are You Tube Sensations and have been touring shows to festivals all around the globe. Their four chord song is an absolute music comedy classic that audiences will never tire of - mainly because they keep updating it will the most recent chart hits. As you try to pick all of the songs try and also pick all of the television ads you have seen one or more of them in.

Chad Bradley How to Make a Musical
Chad Bradley (Geoff Paine) may be known to some festival goers as a cast member from Spontaneous Broadway. Now he is back in a solo show. There will be a lot of improvisation in this show and Chad is very good at it. There will also be a lot of over acting and hamming it up, thankfully he is very good at that too.

Centrelink the Musical
Following sell out shows in the Adelaide Fringe this show is sure to be a hit in Melbourne. The brain child of Rohan Harry, the musical captures the pains of waiting in Centrelink. If you have ever stepped foot into your local Centrelink Office then you will have met every character from this show. It is a little out of the way from the centre of the festival but the trip to Sydney Road Brunswick will be worth the trip. Make a night of it and enjoy a bite to eat and a drink or two.

Ryan Coffey is Howlin'
One man, one beard, one guitar, one loop pedal and one amazing voice all adds up to one howling' music comedy show. He has toured the countries comedy venues and music festivals.Tickets are only $20 - bargain for such a quality show. Do yourself a favour...

Damian Callinan The Lost WW1 Diary of Private Paddy Callinan

Damian is one of the best story comedians going around. This show will be one narrative and is sure to be funny, poignant and moving in equal measure. And often all at the same time. If his previous shows are anything to go by then the narrative will be closer to the truth than anybody realises. Catch Damian at ACMI in Fed Square.

Denise Scott Mother Babe
A perennial festival favourite, sure she probably does not need any extra publicity but I could not include her. No-one tells a personal and self-depricating story quite like her. Sure this show is about being a mother, but you will not have to be a mother or have another to get your money's worth from her show - this year being presented at the Arts Centre - ooh fancy!

Stella Young Tales From The Crip
Ok so technically Stella's show is really sit down not stand up. This is a good thing because you will be laughing too hard to remain standing. I caught her doing a short set at Trades Hall a few months ago and she was refreshingly different and wildly funny. If anyone can be politically correct and incorrect all at the same time then it is Stella. Performing at Northcote Town Hall.

The Boy With Tape on His Face More Tape
Returning to Melbourne for what is sure to be another sell out show. He is unlike any other act in the festival as he does not speak a word. He has tape on his face - covering his mouth. His comedy is in his face and body. Oh yeah there is a lot of audience participation, on and off stage. He is never mean to the audience but some people might find this level of involvement uncomfortable.

Angus Hodge Finding My Rose Coloured Glasses
Angus ventures over the border from Adelaide, fresh from great success at this year's Adelaide Fringe. Here for his first solo MICF show, he has previously performed here as part of Wolf Creek the Musical. Adelaide audiences have been raving about his work for years, get down to the Forum Theatre to see what Melbourne has been missing out on for all these years.

Ged & Jamie This History...Melbourne: A Walking Tour - Involving More Walking...A Questionable History of The History of Melbourne
Not only do they have one of the longest show titles in this year's festival, Jed and Jamie also have one of the most unique. Ok it might not strictly be sketch comedy but they are great character comedians. I imagine it will be a satirical look at all of Melbourne's walking tours and the audience will also be the tour participants. I suspect that nothing in this history walk will assist anyone pass a Melbourne history tests. Ged and Jamie are also great supporters of Melbourne's up and coming comedians throughout the year so this is a great chance to support them

Just to show off the boys are also doing a second show, Cockbagg Magicians: D'illusional.

Talking about walking tours check out this photographic tour (not part of the comedy festival)

Celebrity Theatresports
Think Whose Line Is It Anyway" except the points do matter. Every show each team tries to out do the others in a series of increasingly unusual games and sketches. Audiences will be encouraged to provide ideas for the show. As the name suggests the show will include many celebrities, and not just from the world of comedy. Some of your favourite television stars and Melbourne personalities will be part of the show.

Set List
See some of the best comics from this year's festival test there skills as they make up jokes on the spot based on topics that they see at the same time as the audience. No pre-prepare, rehearsed and tested routines here.

Sell out shows in the Edinburgh, Montreal and London and seen on ABC2, it is a must see. High risk comedy...for the comedians. Guaranteed laughs.

Ali MeGregor's Late Nite Variety-Nite

Mrs Adam Hills returns to the festival for another season of her late nite variety night. A stalwart of the festival. An unpredictable mix of stand up, music comedy, sketch and burlesque. No two shows will be the same. With a variety of festival acts gracing her stage. Including some of the biggest names in comedy doing things they would never do in their own solo show. Then there is Ali's professionally trained voice you will not hear anything like this is any other show. In the Spiegeltent this year based in Fed Square. Likely to sell out.

Raw Comedy National Grand Final
Come and see some of Australia's greatest new comics do their best 5 minutes. The state winners of one of the biggest open-mic competitions vie for this much sought after title. Previous winners include Hannah Gadsby and Josh Thomas. Other Raw Alumni include Tom Ballard, Luke McGregor, and Celia Pacquala. It is a final so there is only one show. If only more reality programs were one show!.

Squeaky Clean Comedy
this two hour show promise lots of laughs, lots of performers and a variety of genres; music poetry, ventriloquism stand up and more. Like comedy but don't like potty mouth or explicit material then this is the show for you. As the title says this show is squeaky clean. Perfect to take your mother or your kids. If that was not enough the show is also partnering with World Vision to raise awareness of education initiatives for Australia's indigenous communities.