Review by Thomas Gregory
If Judith Lucy and Denise Scott sat on the stage of The Playhouse and simply took turns reading from the L. J. Harrington’s “Victorian Railways to ‘62” for seventy minutes, the eight hundred-odd grey-haired supporters that attended the night would have roared with laughter. According to the latest medical research, that means a good quarter of them would literally wet their pants doing so.
Lucy and Scott thankfully put serious effort into their show, proving that, even when they don’t have to, they are still the professional comedians to see when you have your mum visiting for the weekend.
To call Scott and Lucy experts in their field is an understatement. Having been a part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for longer than many of today’s performers have been alive, working together is second nature. The moment they take to the stage, they have every octogenarian eating out of their hands. Their good-natured spirits and “racy” humour have devotees rolling in the aisles.
The Lucy and Scott show, “Still Here”, is a light-hearted look at the “trials” of lockdown. Norman Swan is mentioned only to joke about his good looks, and no mention is made of sixty-four hundred deaths our country has faced so far. The trauma of the pandemic was letting go of your hygiene and drinking too much.
And let’s be honest; that is what we need right now. To find the humour during the tough times and to remind ourselves that, for the older retirees that already own homes but aren’t so old as to be in aged care, the pandemic is over and so is the struggle.
That might sound like I am just some bitter millennial. The reality is simpler; I’m just tired. Tired of the same “I’ve got armpit hair” joke that Lucy was doing twenty-seven years ago. Tired of someone being out of touch being considered funny and relatable. Tired of big name stars that have a captive audience still performing “careful comedy”.
The problem with “careful comedy” is that it dies. While Lenny Bruce and George Carlin’s works are rediscovered by every generation, Buddy Hackett is talked about only in media history lessons, when mentioning the popularity of racism in humour.
However, the only time I had truly negative feelings about the show was when I made the mistake to think about the jokes for more than a second.
You see, the only times the jokes got political, the two comedians offered messages that were quite concerning. The anecdotal evidence that Lucy was diagnosed with COVID after a cleared RAT apparently meant the use of such devices was a scam. The fuckwits who urinated on the Shrine of Remembrance should not be confused for your ordinary anti-vaxxers (implying there’s such a thing as an okay anti-vaxxer). And no, the fact that dozens of hands went up when asked “Did you get COVID?” isn’t concerning as “we saw more in other shows”.
While each individual moment might be considered a small faux pas, a joke not entirely considered for its implications, they added up to provide a more disturbing image - that of performers not willing to challenge their audience - an audience made up of the very people we went into lockdown for.
In fact, the only time a topic remotely challenging was mentioned, Barnaby Joyce, it was simply to take an easy jab at his physical appearance.
It would be unacceptable to not point out just how mechanically brilliant the two women are. Their chemistry is undeniable and, after twenty-plus years of working together, their timing is impeccable. The show is lively, sometimes surprisingly, and never dull. Lucy and Scott know their audience better than the audience knows themselves. Every reference (from Bert Newton to Nicole Kidman) is accessible to all over thirty, and if they want to joke about something weird they saw someone do on the internet, of course it was “some youth” who was involved. Even when they mocked the audience for “getting the early show”, the audience notorious for taking offence at everything, laughed.
Denise Scott and Judith Lucy know who their base is and know how to appeal to that base perfectly. Just as the chaser boys know politics work for them, and Kevin “Bloody” Wilson thrives on bawdy humour, Lucy and Scott know their lanes and don’t dare try to skirt the line.
Judith Lucy and Denise Scott are “Still Here”, and still going as strong as they did all those years ago. The question is, in a decade or two when their core audience is dead and gone, will there be anyone left to remember them? Lucy and Scott are still performing until the 24th of April. Take your Mum to see them. She, at least, will love it.