Words by Paul Maland
Rhino Room's Best of Adelaide Comedy is a showcase intended to illustrate the best and brightest established minds of Adelaide's comedy scene — those who have made it past the hard yards of the RAW Comedy open-mics, past the equivalent hurdles of Adelaide Comedy's Next Generation, and found themselves in consistently booked stages across the city, and even the world.
Best of Adelaide Comedy is a showcase similar to Rhino Room's Late Show program, in which the roster is booked haphazardly depending on who's around and available. The issue with reviewing showcases like this, of course, is that just one night's roster is not a fair assessment of the average quality of the whole season's shows, or even the typical shows of the comedians on the night. The other contrasting issue, of course, is that with a program by the name "Best of Adelaide Comedy" comes an expected standard of quality. For the honest truth about just one of the many evenings of the "Best" of Adelaide Comedy, you've come to the right place.
Stand-up quality can go both ways, and it's a beautiful, unique harmony between audience and performer. Vulnerability is key, and the see-saw nature of how a stand-up shows can go both ways in the same set is great to be a part of... unless it stays down on one side and never quite gets a rhythm going.
The MC of the evening, after a cordial introduction providing context of the show from Adelaide Comedy organiser Craig Egan, was Fabien Clark. Fabien's exhausted but laid-back approach on-stage was a good mood-setter, and did a good job to build expectation. Fabien did make a few digs at the show ahead, "This show is called the BEST of Adelaide Comedy, so you know it's going to be the BEST, because it's called the BEST of Adelaide Comedy". Sarcastic foreshadowing from the dreadlocked father, perhaps?
Marcel Blanch De Wilt
Did you have a father at home when you were raised? Marcel didn't (or "Markel", depending on whether or not you work at a servo and have mastered pronunciation), and he had a point to make about it... what that point was — beyond not being hugely masculine as a potential consequence of the absentee father — is probably in the same strange dimension where Marcel's father ended up. Marcel tried a bit of crowd-work, and it was in this that his set peaked, when a heckler yelled that their father was dead. Marcel did reference this later on during the show in another crowd reaction based bit for some laughs, but didn't reach a climactic end beyond this point.
Have you ever been upgraded in a flight or hotel before? Ever rode in a limo? Jason hadn't, until a chance flight cancellation lead him on a boisterous adventure of throwing soap around in his hotel. A lot of anecdotes in this set, but too many punchlines that missed their mark to justify and adequately tie them in together.
Last on stage was an energetic and somewhat eccentric Jon Bennett. Jon's show about his brother's journey through life and prison, Fire In The Meth Lab, took him all the way across the world to the Edinburgh Fringe. Jon was ecstatic to hear his show had been picked up for touring, until he flew to the venue and found himself performing in an old-folks home. The adamant complaints emphasising his disappointment at the absurdity of the situation was executed well, but again not quite backed with enough content to get booked somewhere other than, well, y'know. Jon forced some crowd interaction at the end of a show with some manic, effective one-liners that demanded audience reactions if he gestured at you. Although this did work to build some energy in the room for a climactic ending, the warm-up had come too late.
Thursday the 23rd's edition of the Best of Adelaide Comedy felt a lot like a number of people got on stage and assumed that, because they had an audience, whatever they complained about or recalled would automatically be funny. Perhaps at a later time-slot with a bigger audience this may have been the case, but not Thursday. If I was forced to (unfairly) base my assessment of the whole season of these shows on that one night? I'd say to save your tickets for the Rhino Room's Late Show, where truly established comedians are showcased spontaneously.
Best of Adelaide Comedy tix & info here.