By Jerome Studdy
Jenna Suffern was a UDL (an Unemployed Depressed Lesbian) and is fast becoming one of the most prominent lesbians in the Inner-West, and Brendan Hancock, well, he’s a naughty little boy and an agent of chaos (their words, not mine). In addition to producing the Two Queers Festival, Suffern and Hancock performed their duo comedy show to an almost full capacity venue and a livestream of hopefully thousands of others at Giant Dwarf on Thursday night. The show was queer. The comedians, queer. The audience were mostly queer. The content was great. The laughs were plenty.
Suffern and Hancock are a brilliant team. The two have a great synergy and complementary styles of comedy that meant for a balanced evening. Where Suffern’s comedy comes from her internalised experiences, self-deprecation, and relatability, Hancock’s humour originates in his human interactions, relations, and escapades. Ultimately, what we receive is a pair of stand-up sets that give a wonderfully normalised insight into their experiences of being queer and being human. As a queer audience member, it was incredibly affirming to hear similar stories to mine being told, without the queerness being persecuted or overly pointed. Just, normal.
The structure of the show was bookended and driven by theatrical comedy with the two playing a heteronormative mid-century, yet post-apocalyptic couple. This provided impetus for the show, and the chance for some quick laughs in the form of canned studio laughter and hetero jokes. Unfortunately, it lost its charm there. Some fumbled lines and stilted delivery meant that the theatrical elements weren’t as punchy as the stand-up sets. Similarly, Hancock’s striptease, while a bold crowd-pleaser, got caught halfway between a serious attempt at singing and dancing, and an intentional piss-take. Commitment in one direction or the other would have solidified the finale for the show.
Triumphs from the show were Suffern’s powerpoint and photoshop prowess (not to mention incredible Year 12 drama male character content), and Hancock’s almost Joe Lycett-esque performative comedy attack on a past love-interest. However, some of the best laughs were driven by the meta-comedy moments. It’s evident that the two are still honing their craft, so the audience were treated to wonderful insight into the way a comedy set is structured and how a comedian’s mind works. Open commentary when a joke didn’t land kept the show moving, bolstered a few extra laughs, and helped to keep the audience onside. The main thing that threatened to unhinge the comedian/audience relationship was pacing. Lulls in energy sometimes left the audience hanging and a little uncomfortable.
In summary, these two are absolutely worth seeing, and with any luck, more of us will be seeing them more regularly. Chances are you’ve missed the end of the Two Queers Festival, but definitely try to make their comedy room, Two Queers Walk Into A Bar, on December 4.