Review By Tessa Stickland
CHAOS. JOYUS, LOVELY CHAOS!
This right here is the magic of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Late night comedy in a small room where anything can happen.
Damo and Mick's Backyard Quiz is, ostensibly, a comedy quiz show hosted by Damo Hatcher and supported by “Mick” Barnes, ‘Show Handyman’/tech/‘Voice of God’. They gather four comedians in varying states of tiredness and inebriation and quiz them on a variety of topics from discontinued chocolates to obscure cinema.
I had the pleasure of seeing guests Matt Stewart and Lauren Josephine on ‘Pig Team’ and Firdi Billimoria and Jacqueline Mifsud on ‘Chicken Team’ (all doing their own MICF shows – give them a look, because I know I will).
I’m led to believe that most nights it actually is more of a quiz than what I witnessed, which was a particularly loose night.
The stage at Theory Bar, in the back room, is a small space. It’s fitting for this intimate and off the cuff show. The night I went the audience was small but very engaged. We filled the first row and had one guy in the second row. The front row is pretty physically close to the comedians, which I believe contributed to the chaotic energy that ensued. It felt like we were part of the show. Well, I guess we were. We scored points and won rubber ducks. And (within reason) could chime in to answer questions.
Damo did a pretty decent job reining in the other comedians, considering how off the walls it was. I can see that on a more subdued night he’d be an ace quiz host.
But the chaos was established very early on – and clearly everyone in the audience was keen for it (I’m pretty sure we were even asked point blank if the show was going okay and if we’d got our money's worth (a resounding “yes!”)).
We all had each other in hysterics.
As a semi-regular pub trivia attendee, I can tell you the Backyard Quiz questions are not run of the mill. Most of them are surprisingly difficult. They’re also either funny questions, and/or leave room for the guest comedians to give funny answers.
The particular night I went, simpler questions (not easier, just more simply worded) may have served the show a bit better. However, it’s hard to plan for chaos. And on other (smoother) nights the style of questions would be useful to hold the engagement of both audience and guest comedians.
With the ‘Wheel of Ducks’ providing fantastic prizes to the contestants (like Derryn Hinch’s The Scrabble Book) and a variety of guests, this 10:45pm show is a great way to end a night of comedy.