The San Fran Melbourne Comedy Show illustrates the adage that “less is more”. In this case, the show would have been a lot more tolerable with less pointless anger, swearing and puerile material. It also would have been nice to not have to wait more than 20 minutes past the start time for the show to begin, there’s a lot to see during a festival and late starts don’t help this.
The inspiration for the show’s title comes from the cities in which the performers are based; James Moffett in Melbourne and Andrew Roberts in San Francisco. I did think that there would have been some more observations on these two cities given the title, but it quickly turned out that this wasn’t a show for that type of humour.
Moffett has an energetic stage presence, and this is easily the best part of his set. It is unfortunate that most of the topics he’s interested in talking about were determined in high school; fart jokes, dick jokes, period jokes were all related, for me, rather tediously. Interactions with the crowd showed that a number of family and friends were enjoying a night unburdened by subtlety, but maybe they weren’t completely enthralled as the material didn’t stop them checking their text messages.
Andrew Roberts’s stage persona has all the unfounded arrogance of a year 10 student who thinks they are sophisticated because their parents took them to Les Miserables. Hostility towards the audience without any decent material is just boring and lazy, although again, family and friends in the audience enjoyed sharing putdowns with the performer. The “darkly pithy observations about the human experience” promised on the act’s MICF webpage failed to materialise; through a tasteless bit on domestic violence and the World Trade Centre on 9/11 Roberts confused a club-like attempt at shock with satire. It seems Roberts has squandered an opportunity to observe quality acts in the US and progress on his comedy apprenticeship. Certainly there’s a lot of the trade still to learn. At the very least, if you finish your set a few minutes early it’s probably better to just take your bow and get off rather than think exchanging hostilities with a friend in the audience is a better end to the show.
If you wanted to train a festival audience to be conservative and just go to the sure-fire national or international talent rather than take risks on unknowns, putting on a disappointing and half-arsed show like this is how you would do it. Shows of this type have become a bit too common, and make me wonder if “less is more “ applies to MICF – I’m beginning to suspect the paying public would be better served by a curated festival of fewer acts but greater quality.