Review by Michelle Drinnan
The comedy roadshows are a brilliant implementation to experience a smorgasbord of comedy in an accessible and local venue. Comedians from the comedy festivals are invited to tour with the roadshow, bringing their comedy to a range of towns around Australia. Our night included four comedian guests Gillian Cosgriff, Mike Goldstein, duo Nat Harris and Hannah Camilleri and Suren Jayemanne with host Dave Thornton.
A Thursday night in Bayswater drew a remarkably older crowd which the comedians delighted in poking fun at. Staff at the Knox Arts Centre went beyond to ensure their guests were looked after in their small but cosy venue.
Dave Thornton was our effervescent MC instantly connecting to audience with well researched gags relating to the local area. Dave makes comedy look easy. His casual but clever deliver could be telling a story to his mates, and as the audience we delighted in feeling involved with his interactive methods. Dave held the evening together with larrigan charm and we found ourselves excited to hear him between each guest. Dave is hosting several of the roadshow events coming up and if you get a chance to watch him, grab the ticket.
Suren Jayemanne is a relatively unknown comedian with a lot of potential. I would have loved a little more research on his local area as the jokes that really connected were the ones relating to his current crowd. He had a combination of tight well delivered gags and some that were lost a little bit due to volume drop outs of his speech. Suren has mastered the casual delivery and knows how to tell a heck of a funny story. Suren can be seen in the Sydney comedy festival coming up.
Having already been a fan of Gillian Cosgriff from her phenomenal work in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I was very excited to see her comedic skills and she did not disappoint. Gillian is a poised and perfected performer. This is not a performer winging it. Every line and movement shows the work of a trained actor. She is relatable, charming and composed and it’s no wonder she was honoured with Best Show for the Melbourne Comedy Festival. In the style of industry leaders like Tim Minchin and Eddie Perfect, Gilliam delivered poignant musical comedy with clear talent and ease. A highlight was the song she sung in the voice of her yoga teacher “Tanya”, in which the lady sitting next to me laughed so much she actually stopped breathing and another audience member asked if she needed help. What a compliment! Gillian tells me she has nothing planned currently but a quick facebook stalk tells me she is writing a musical. Just like Tim Minchin and Eddie Perfect, I have no doubt this will be fantastic and I’ll be first in line to see it.
Nat and Hannah are no strangers to comedy having already performed several comedy festivals. In 2021 their duo show Pét-Nat + Han ah Chocolat was bestowed the gibbo award. From this show, the ladies have adapted characters from a sketch component as two hilarious but relatable teachers of a typical year eight class. As the audience, we become the students which our grey retiree crowd delighted in. The characters were not clear immediately and needed an authority entrance to avoid confusion. Some great discipline lines had the ‘’year eight students’’ in stitches. The characters were relatable with humorous characteristics of every teacher we remember however it was hard to distinguish what was impro and what was a storyline. The two characters were fairly identical and giving each character separate personalities would have added to the interactions. Having said that sketch comedy is hard and this may not have been the best audience for this performance. Their funny off side comments were clear and projected well. Hannah can be seen in her one woman show Lolly Bag and Nat can be heard on Triple R Melbourne Breakfast radio.
To round out our comedy show was the absolute pro Mike Bolstein. You may recognise the name as the smart ass on The Hundred with Andy Lee. If you get a chance to see a full show with Mike, grab it. This American come Aussie immediately won over the crowd and knew how to hold us in the palm of his hand. Audience interaction can go either way, but Mike showed his professional skills connecting to the audience with consistency that’s rare to achieve. Mike is a master of comedy moving from local humour to USA observations and ensuring his crowd were in stitches. Mike could connect even more by positioning the mic from covering his mouth so we can enjoy his facial expressions. Mike is touring as MC with the roadshow which means you’ll see even more of him.