Comedy Festival 2009
Reviewed by Sums Selvarajan

WATCHING Austen Found (The Drake, May 7-27) was more about appeasing my curiosity than anything else. Having been introduced to Jane Austen in college and not being that avid a fan of musicals, I was rather keen to see how an improv comedy take on the two would pan out. The intimate setting of The Drake along with the polished talents of ConArtist’s Penny Ashton, Greg Cooper, Lori Dungey, Stacyi Taylor, Nigel Burrows and Ross Devereux heralded more than a pleasant surprise. Swept into the fantastically fictional improvised world of “Greed & Generosity”, Jane Austen’s once-lost-but-now-found musical extravaganza, I was particularly impressed at how Andrew Herby-Bottom (Cooper) managed to work in Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Cecilia’ when disingenuously ballading about the protagonist, Ms Cecillia Gardener to her bon-bon crazed mother. The incongruous hilarity of the YMCA human-alphabets in a period ballroom dance also bear mention. Even if musicals and the country living in the Regency period isn’t your thing, Austin Found is well worth a watch. I for one think my aversion to musicals just might be cured.

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LIVERPUDLIAN Danny McChrystal and Yorkshireman Reuben Lee tout themselves as being in the “offensive bracket”. Having watched their new show, Full English (Transmission Room, May 14-16), I have no doubt about that. Shame I didn’t find it much funny. While I didn’t care much for MC Stella Graham’s forced warm-up jokes and Danny’s watchable but unmemorable set, Reuben did bring on some full on laughter (and heckling) with his dry, gloomy and predominantly disgusting sense of humour. There is such a thing as too much information after all. Strangely enough, the highlight of the night was delivered by Floyd, Rueben’s son, who made a staged impromptu appearance. Perhaps he should have headlined.

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IT’S COOL to be uncool – or is it? Everything about A Guide To The Uncool (The Basement, May 19-23) was quirky, twee and superbly hilarious. From the comic strip programme sheet to the gimmicky deadpan opening act by an apparently “12-year-old” Joseph Harper and the random strumming of Brendon Green between skits, the very “trendy” Heidi O’Loughlin and Rose Matafeo take you through a journey of what is uncool and cool in style, drugs, dating, music and day time TV. Opening night nervousness aside, these girls kept the comedy going with snazzy visual aids and well timed, refreshing comedy. The scheduled randomness of the night continued with a little Michael Jackson action, although I wish I wasn’t caught in the cross fire (bag-of-crisps projectile smacked face). A nicely put together performance by a new crop of young talents that culminates in the happy conclusion that it is neither cool to be uncool nor uncool to be cool. My happiest hour spent this week.