Reviews/Comedy/Fringe World Festival

The joy (or not) of comedy

22 January 2020

“While kids are an easy laugh when it comes to scatological matters, they’re also ruthless when it comes to finding people unfunny. There’s no one in a junior audience laughing because they think they’re supposed to laugh.”

Review: Ha Ha Comedy Pub Crawl, Scottish English & Irish Comedy Awards, ‘Best of Edinburgh Kids Comedy’ ·
Brass Monkey, 18 January 2020 ·
Review by Varnya Bromilow ·

My favourite sort of comics are not what you would call joyful people.  Sarcastic, angry, infuriated…but not joyful.  What does evoke joy though, is their clear love of their craft. Even when making the cattiest comments, the most acerbic asides, their glee or joy in what they are doing is clear. Why else, then, would you bother doing comedy? As a genre, it’s probably the least forgiving, the most terrifying.

This was the thought that kept coming back to me as I watched the quartet of comics as part of Best of Edinburgh Kids Comedy.  For the weary compere (un-named in the program) the gig was either beneath him or just not his bag…or maybe it was the jetlag?  Whatever the case, having someone grouse about being under-prepared and not scoring enough laughs from the audience wasn’t entertaining, much less funny.

One couldn’t help but wonder whether he and the third act, the very shouty Roscoe McClelland, confessed to being woefully under-prepared because their audience was children. Would they have been so cavalier with an audience of grown people? They did so at their own peril; kids’ comedy presents a unique challenge. While kids are an easy laugh when it comes to scatological matters, they’re also ruthless when it comes to finding people unfunny. There’s no one in a junior audience laughing because they think they’re supposed to laugh.

Fortunately, two of the comics more than compensated for their uninspired stagemates. From the minute he sloped onto the stage, Daniel Warr (as his alter ego DADO) elicited a steady stream of laughter with his unique brand of physical comedy. Canadian Warr is no stranger to Perth festivals; many of us enjoyed his antics a couple of years ago at Fringe. His act builds on the same Keatonesque antics, cushioned by many leaky balloons.

Making amusing use of a four year old accomplice, Warr used the balloons as farting snakes, as musical accompaniment, and in his most miraculous feat, in a balloon-swallowing-excreting feat that had adult and child eyes boggled. Warr’s hunchback costume, his use of music, his high-pitched nonsense language – all facets were well paced to create a show that was both cheekily entertaining and somehow heartwarming. Warr looked both delighted and perhaps even a little shocked to have the fortune of making his living by delivering sheer nonsense. It’s this joy that renders him so infectiously watchable.

The other highlight of the hour-long spectacle was Sydney-based comedian Idris Stanton, the Wham Glam Circus Man. Springing onto the stage, resplendent in red glitter, his show is an action-packed melange of percussive juggling and glam rock. Keeping precisely to the beat of the hits of Queen, ACDC and the like, Stanton astounded the junior crowd, while skilfully recruiting the silliest adults into his scheme. The pièce de résistance was a performance involving a leaf-blower; elaborate frisbee juggling and air guitar played on badminton racquet. And like Warr, Stanton was clearly enjoying himself, even liberated, in the presence of awed kids. 

I’d thoroughly recommend getting down to The Court to catch the solo shows of both DADO and Idris Stanton. If you can leave a packed room of children in hysterics, you’re doing something right. 

Best of Edinburgh Kids Comedy continues until 16 February 2020.

Pictured top: Idris Stanton is liberated in the presence of kids. Photo by Sean Breadsell.

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Author —
Varnya Bromilow

Varnya Bromilow is a happy dilettante who has worked as a journalist, advocate, oral historian, teacher and train driver. She spent 15 years with the ABC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and The West Australian and enjoys writing fiction. She loves guinea pigs and the thrill of a good slide.

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