Review by Taylor Kendal
As a self-confessed, no hope of recovery literary addict, seeing a title like ‘A Bookish Comedy Show’, naturally catches one’s attention. Seeing that said show is being held at Storyville, Melbourne’s fantastical literary themed bar, there was no chance that I was going to miss this one. Surely this is something spectacular, right? And I have never been so thankful to have been right.
From the mind of comedian, actor and raconteur George Dimarelos comes a comedy show unlike any I have seen before. A compilation evening of comedy, storytelling and an overall discussion of everything book related. It is a bibliophile’s dream come true; sitting in a literary themed bar, drinking literary themed cocktails (the Golden snitch is particularly good), in a room surrounded by familiar titles and covers.
The relaxed atmosphere is unlike a lot of comedy performances of late. Rather than the traditional set up, the evening is much like a laidback chat rather than host and audience roles, and it suits the premise so well. Think part show, part intellectual debate and conversation about books; all hilarity and an incredible night out.
Right from the start, audiences are greeted with Dimarelos’ warm and welcoming personality. A natural host and a talented comedian with a quick wit with the audience, Dimarelos claimed this iteration of the show and its location was to indulge in his, quite ‘literatureness’ in comedy, with there not being all that many places to do such a thing. And he’s right, which makes this show so unique and intriguing, as does the fact that no two shows are ever the same. The bones of the show relies on audience participation and discussion, which leaves it open for all kinds of discussions. After all, to bit or not to bit. That is the question.
The set up of the show is very clever; amidst the discussion of favourite books and who has or hasn’t read this, are fun interactive elements, such as explain the book plot badly, and guess the cover of the famous book, which quite frankly some of them were quite confusing and a little terrifying.
Joining Dimarelos during this run are Luka Muller and Aidan Jones, two comedians who have not only performed with the show before, but also have their own solo shows during the festival as well. Both bring a different style to the show, with personal anecdotes and stories that are both hilarious and thought provoking in many ways. Luka Muller tired to reason the pros of folding the page corner of you book rather than using a book mark (a debate he likened to the Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones and frankly, I can totally understand that), and discussing a man who held the Guinness World Record for eating a plane (…yep), while Aidan Jones alternated between poetry from his grandmother, and email correspondence he had with his grandfather, both of which are fantastic additions to any set. I am eager to following them further through the festival.
A Bookish Comedy Show is not your typical comedy show, but rather a well devised, labour of love intended for like minded people in a space and profession that has so few havens for such a seemingly niche yet well loved (and understatedly hysterical) genre of comedy. It is clear that this show is close to Dimarelos’ heart, as he also has a podcast discussing all things literary, and the various iterations of this show he has created since starting stand up in 2013. Everyone involved should be incredibly proud of what has been created, and I absolutely cannot wait for the chance to come back and experience it again in the future.
Regardless of whether you are an avid bookworm, or the occasional reader, this show has something for everyone. Plenty of moments that are relatable, no matter your favourite genre, author or reading style. In a world where things can be quite harsh at times, it is a safe space for every reader.
A Bookish Comedy Show is playing at Storyville Bar in Melbourne as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until April 10. Fellow literary fiends, do not miss out!