The List Operators exploded onto the comedy scene only a few years ago but quickly became loved by critics and fans alike. They then diversified to producing comedy shows for children, a demographic mostly overlooked by live comedy. Now – in a case of life impersonating Wiggles – they seem to be so busy performing to kids there isn’t time to do shows for adults any more.
I, sadly, had never seen them perform for adults, so decided one of their kids shows would at least get me the idea of the group. As an additional bonus, an adult man attending this show without children will suddenly find himself in possession of plenty of legroom as nervous mothers quickly move their children to other seats (in retrospect, my slightly-too-loud reference to “paedophile’s row” may not have helped).
I still don’t really know what The List Operators are like for adults as this show is clearly, cleverly and unreservedly for kids. The show’s framework is computers and the internet, with many silly props and puns, but the Listies know what the audience likes. It’s fart jokes. And poo jokes. It’s unapologetically aimed directly at the kids, with only the occasional joke thrown the way of the parents. Which is probably how it should be.
The rare exception to this is an inspired high-tech take on Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s On First?” routine that involves “what” being a password and “I don’t know” a user-name. The kids enjoy the silliness of it, while the parents also enjoy the clever retooling of an old joke.
With an audience this young, it’s interesting to see where occasionally a reference doesn’t hit. The window of pop culture knowledge is so limited that even a few months can make a difference to a joke about Keyboard Cat – an internet meme which peaked around 2009 – seemed to fall flat. Sometimes 18 months can be a lifetime. Another segment that required two audience members to recreate the classic video game Pong seemed to cause confusion for both parent and child (although the following moment – “Pong 3D” – was a delightful moment of exhilarating chaos).
It’s a fast moving show and all terribly good fun, but there’s not really enough to engage an adult viewer alone. If you have young kids, however, it’s a must-see. And what a great way to introduce them to the comedy festival!
Until 24 April, 2011
For more information visit: Melbourne International Comedy Festival