If there were a prize for the most cheerily, charming performance at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Andrew McClelland would have to win it hands down. From the moment he bursts on stage in his boater hat and navy blazer, serenading us with a carousing rendition of his show’s title in music form, you can tell this won’t be your usual MICF stand-up show, but that you’re definitely in for a night of fun. In fact, while comparatively light on songs, this show almost has more in common with cabaret than it does the usual mic-clenching, joke spinning stand-up routine.
This is because McClelland is a natural storyteller and very quickly sets the scene around him – thanks to little more than an AV projector and a bag of tricks – conjuring a bargain basement European bus tour, with himself as the tour guide, and a brain in a hermetically sealed case as the bus driver. He casts us, his audience as the various weird and wacky tourists that haven’t been able to afford the more upscale Regal Bus Tours that plague our magical mystery tour around the more well-known, and some obscure, tourist highlights of greater Europe.
Thanks to Google maps and McClelland’s amusing attention to detail, those who haven’t had the opportunity to tour the likes of Edinburgh, Scotland; Cork, Ireland: Paris, France and Split in Croatia, will actually get to see and learn (?) a little bit about the main sights and streets of those cities. Just like a real walking tour, questions are (somewhat) encouraged and some gentle responsive group audience participation is required in order to get on board with the rollicking good fun, which McClelland provides aplenty.
That being said, McClelland’s brand of humour isn’t the wittiest and his wordplay is at times questionable, as proved by an over-zealous audience member on opening night, but what he lacks in zingers he makes up for in enthusiasm, and it’s hard not to get carried away with that.