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Review: Bang On Live with Myf Warhurst and Zan Rowe at Melbourne Town Hall - MICF

Review by Naomi Cardwell.

The queue of ticket holders for Bang On is staggeringly long, stretching for blocks up Swanston Street from the Melbourne Town Hall. It’s also the most fun I’ve had in a queue for a long time, with giggly jokes and good vibes deftly thrown and caught among different groups of fabulously dressed fans. 

The Town Hall is packed by the time we’re inside, and the hosts emerge to pumping music and a hero’s welcome, waving to the crowd in joyfully lurid pink and orange outfits and showing off their new pairs of matching crocs. I’m calling it, by the way: Fancy Crocs are the official footwear of the 2024 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. You heard it here first.

Myf Warhurst and Zan Rowe’s crocs are platformed, pink, and fabulous. “Mine have wine and cheese Jibbits on them,” Myf enthuses, pointing out the tiny little buttons she’s used to customise her footwear (because, you know, you wouldn’t want your pink platform Crocs to look plain), “I don’t think it’s a case of you finding the right Jibbits - the Jibbits find you.”

Such is the nature of this massive, girl-power infused live recording of Bang On, the eponymous Double J Podcast, which is full of dry, light-hearted takes on the weekly zeitgeist from a relaxed, distinctively feminist perspective. Warm, witty and fabulously fun, it feels like some kind of cool modern talk show, with hosts Warhurst and Rowe seated on either side of a coffee table sporting a pretty vase of flowers and a cheeky glass of wine each.

Much of the audience is comprised of built-in die-hard fans of the podcast. As fandoms go, they’re my favourite so far – an irreverent, kind, and wickedly funny sisterhood. At one point Rowe asks, “Now, has anyone done the homework?” - and hands shoot up all over the room as giggles and groans of laughter erupt. The required watching, set in a previous podcast, was a dreadful romcom recommended for consumption only with liberal servings of wine, and the debrief is hilarious. What strikes me most, though, is Rowe and Warhurst’s astute and empathetic evaluation of the lead actress’s rise and fall in the steely jaws of the male-operated Hollywood machine of the early 00’s. While Bang On has plenty of fluff, Rowe and Warhurst never compromise their feminism or allow a woman to become the butt of their jokes.

Guests come and go for chatty little interviews, premised with the question “What are you banging on about this week?”. Myf’s talented brother Kit Warhurst pops in for a song before heading off to his own gig with his band, Melbourne rock icons Rocket Science. Kit’s voice in the acoustic number is beautiful, with an open, poignant quality that reminds me of The Whitlams, and Myf is touchingly rapt watching her brother play. Joel Creasey drops by to spruik his own Comedy Festival show playing later, full of energy and hilarious anecdotes from his adventures hosting Eurovision with Myf. Fans are also invited on stage to participate in an uproarious runway show lampooning the season’s haute couture oddities – that’s “faarshun”, dahlinks.

There’s even merch, featuring tea towels (“apparently, we know our audience,” Rowe quips, cheerfully quoting the eye-rolling observation of a fan’s teenage son). Even though it’s a full house, with a huge, cheering crowd, it feels like an intimate guilty-pleasures book club, a safe space for women and our allies to laugh together until we’re weak at the knees. As we exit, Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 plays out and everybody’s bottoms seem to be wiggling. A stranger, fabulously dressed in Gorman, grips my arm and wipes her eyes. “Isn’t it good to just laugh again!” she says, and I think she’s bang-on point.

Image Supplied


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