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PERTH COMEDY FESTIVAL GALA gets 9/10

PERTH COMEDY FESTIVAL GALA @ Regal Theatre
Thursday, April 26, 2018

9/10

The Perth Comedy Festival is the crown jewel of Perth comedy, and one that delivers premiere international and local talent to our doorsteps each year. The Gala is the ultimate in tasting platters for the Festival, dishing up a veritable smorgasbord of laughter in one night, across two hilarious hours. Whether you are looking to order more as a main course or simply sample some of the offerings, the Gala is an event not to be missed every year, and 2018 proved no exception.

Hosted by the raucous Rhys Nicholson, aflame with fabulous from his brilliantly bright-red locks to shimmering patent loafers, jokes are fired off like glittered automatic weapons in rapid succession, stunning the audience into reverent laughter from the outset.

Opening with the cheekily impish Deanne Smith, a self-professed “gentleman elf”, this tiny powerhouse hurtles on stage like a hurricane, raging against the patriarchy in the most relatable of ways for even the straightest audience member. Infinitely hilarious, Smith never fails to engage all in her unique brand of queer comedy, while never marginalising the cis heterosexual experience. Rather, Smith takes the time to explain non binary gender in a beautifully light manner. Deanne Smith is an absolute gem.

Unfortunately, the choice to follow Deanne with insults directed at women is unwise at best, and Neel Kolhatkar fell short of the mark. Certainly, the tone had been set very high, but nonetheless, there is no margin for error in such lauded company. Much of his set fell flat, and to scattered, uncomfortable laughter. The footy, bogans and sex as the brunt of poorly landed jokes were unwelcome and classist, and left the audience wondering how he had earned his place on the stage.

Thankfully, we were immediately revived by the infinitely fab Famous Sharron’s arrival to the Regal, as she shimmied onstage in all her glory. Predictably exhilarating and completely captivating, Shaz never fails to hold her audience in her hand, enthralled in the spell of the most particular account of Aussie mums to ever hold court. Notably, Shaz was the only performer not in trainers, as her glimmering gold heels danced across the stage. The Gala was a veritable rollercoaster ride of emotions, and nobody is ever truly ready for being Shazzed. Watch out Sydney, because she is coming for you soon.

Mike Goldstein followed suit, with offensive punchlines delivered like a knockout kick to the head in brutal fashion. His set was utterly brilliant, despite being followed up by the always magnificent Daniel Sloss, whose subtle critique of the patriarchy from a man’s perspective is both welcome and a fascinating, intelligent perspective. It is both gently complex and softly painful in all the best ways. To witness a man’s perspective of toxic masculinity, without it being spelled out explicitly, is truly wonderful. More of this please, and less of that [gestures wildly at Neel Kolhatkar].

Nadia Collins was a disappointment post-intermission, uncomfortable to watch with outdated content. Perhaps a better production team could bring out her best, but for now, she is raw and in need of a lot of growth.

Luke Heggie followed in his typically Australian dad-joke style, both welcome and as refreshing as a Bundaberg shot on the palate: sharp, raw, and rewarding. Followed up by the Disney villain-faced local Colin Ebsworth, who started out as fresh as a lukewarm goon bag in Mum’s backyard, he slowly built to a crescendo everyone happily drank up.

The standout set of the night, however, goes to Ian Bagg, whose comic timing is only outdone by his wit. Perfectly-built jokes resulting in face-achingly great crescendos are his specialty, and they were a hearty reminder as to why we all indulge in the sometimes painful throes of stand-up comedy.

NATALIE GILES

Treat yourself to these fine folk and many others at the Perth Comedy Festival until Sunday May 20. Full deets and program available here www.perthcomedyfestival.com

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