By Nicola Bennett
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival offers a wealth of talent for the audiences' choosing. Viewing comedians both known and unknown comes with their own risks, however it is an especially satisfying venture to view someone new who both meets and exceeds expectations. Blake Freeman’s show, “There’s Something There”, delivers good comedy and great promise as one of the new performers of this year’s festival. Freeman’s performance this year has earned him a nomination for the festival’s 2019 Best Newcomer Award, which after viewing his performance to a sold-out Wednesday night crowd, I both strongly understand and support. This is the comedy of a 20-something year old who is finding his path both in performing and the wider world, and if this stage of his journey is any indicator, he is a comedian to continue watching.
Based in one of the more intimate rooms of the Victoria Hotel, Freeman makes no pretence about the style of his comedy. It is frank and upfront and feels more conversational than heavily scripted for much of the show. This suits the aesthetic of the show generally, as Freeman emits an energy of relaxed “coolness” that both eases and invites you in wholeheartedly. There is truly very little that Freeman shies away from during his set in terms of subject matter. For the more conservative viewer, some content may be more challenging, however the openness that Freeman harnesses will be refreshing for most patrons. You really cannot help but grow to like Freeman - his self-deprecation is endearing, and his earnest performative style showcases a young person with a genuine interest in building his craft.
When noting the demographic of his audience at this performance, there is a mix of predominantly young people who connect quickly with his observations, but also those from older demographics who were equally engaged with Freeman’s content. It’s a great reminder for us as an audience that younger performers are not only exclusively marketing to younger viewers; like Freeman has, they can skilfully achieve a sense of relatability that extends beyond generations. Perhaps for the more traditional comedy fan, this may be a step outside of the more sophisticated performance style to which they’re accustomed. However the impromptu recollections and tangents that Freeman pursues are genuinely funny and have a delightful quirkiness to them, made more appealing by a youthful curiosity that he projects so well throughout.
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival prides itself on its ability to pull comedy’s big names into its temporary epicentre. The inevitable effect of having such big names constantly filling your billing is that it can risk overshadowing the lesser known names existing in the same orbit. Seeing Blake Freeman’s show is a reminder of how vital it is to support comedy at even the grassroots stage, and particularly if it is as genuinely entertaining as this show. For a taste of the promising future of Australian comedy, quickly catch Blake Freeman before the festival concludes on Sunday 21st April
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.