Saturday, 16 April 2016

The 5:30 show, Backstage Room, Melbourne Town Hall, Melbourne Comedy Festival 2016

A short guide to Canberra Comedy's contribution to the Melbouren International Comedy FEstival. About 9 years ago or so, a mob calling themselves "Capital Punishment" sent some of the better emerging Canberra acts down for a run-of-the-festival show. It gave a few of the performers exposure, it got the word out, and ... eventually it spun off a little brother, as a couple of the younger comedians started their own thing at an earlier timeslot - originally called "Irresponsible" and now calling itself "The 5:30 show" (the show with the easiest-to-remember timeslot). Capital Punishment has gone away this year so it's just the 5:30-ers flying solo, and on a Thursday night, they were flying pretty well.

MCing the show is one of the original quartet, Shaheed Sharify. He has a pleasant if slightly abashed way of working the crowd and gentle wit that sets up and links the show well.

Canberra Comedy-Scene regulars Andrew and Danny Bensley deliver separate sets that are reasonably similar in style - one's a little bit more hipster, one's a little bit more talking about possums, and it's utterly my fault that I can't remember which Bensley is which, but they're both good value.

Sean Morgan delivers an eccentric line in poetry that gives him a cleverly differentiated pace to the rest of the night, and scores pretty much every laugh going.

Raw entrant James McMahon manages to score laughs mostly by pure attitude. His jokes even work when he calls an audience member up and gets them to tell them for him. He's got a strong sense of controlling the room and the pace at which he wants to go and should go far with this kinda skill.

HArris Stuckey winds up the night, the other veteran of "Irresponsible". His ability to turn a pause is lengendary, and he's able to go relatively dark while still remaining appealing and carrying the audience along with him. If he does start to go overly meta at some spots, it's still surrounded by a lot of meat-and-potato joke-style-jokes.

Conveniently timed, located and entertainingly put together, "The 5:30 show" is a quality showcase for some emerging performers who are definately deserving of future attention.

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