The 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival is currently in full flight. For three weeks until April 22, over six hundred local and international acts have converged on the city, determined to extract as many laughs from us as possible.
Originally from New Zealand, Cal Wilson is starring in a new one – woman venture.
To date, her impressive list of credits features television appearances on Good News Week, Have You Been Paying Attention?, Hughesy – We Have a Problem, Rove Live, Show Me the Movie!, SkitHouse, Spicks and Specks, Thank God You’re Here, and The Wedge.
In 2008, She was a contestant on Dancing with The Stars
Wilson also has a solid background in drive time radio. Her gigs include The Akmal Show with Cal Wilson (later called The Wrong Way Home with Akmal, Cal and Ed), Get This, and Mornings.
Along with her own show at this year’s festival, Wilson is making a special appearance with Spontaneous Broadway.
This week I had the good fortune to review two shows with improvisation as their driving force. The above – mentioned Spontaneous Broadway, along with Impromptunes, require cast members to make material made up on the spot, look slick, polished and well – rehearsed.
The best traditional stand – up aims to do the exact opposite. Meaning, scripted content needs to feel loose, and in the moment for each new audience.
Wilson has this difficult skill under total command.
Fun and engaging, her fifty – minute set takes viewers everywhere. Wilson’s personal demon is also her greatest asset. As the self – confessed anxiety sufferer says, ‘My mind is a busy place’.
Wilson covers vast territory in her jam – packed routine. Topics range from:
- How this festival is her Christmas;
- The Adelaide Fringe;
- Deconstructing Bryan Adams and Billy Joel songs;
- Thinking too much about the meaning of lyrics;
- How great the word, ‘slut’, is (even if the connotation isn’t);
- Word association;
- Family planning panic;
- Cosmetics and being allergic to bees;
- The main difference between Wilson and her husband;
- How beautiful is a sleeping child;
- Toddlers who can break land speed records;
- Losing kids in an elevator;
- The many uses of pawpaw ointment;
- Being amazed by her child’s sense of humour;
- Leaps of logic;
- Her husband’s ‘teacher’ voice;
- Guilt tripping; and
- How odd Wilson thinks she is.
In terms of structure, Wilson’s set is at first glance, made up of random thoughts and observations. On closer inspection, however, each anecdote neatly ties one story to the next. This connective journey is further strengthened, when references early in the show, are later mentioned again for good measure.
Wilson’s routine also includes, in the form of a poll, a brilliant element of audience participation. Here, we got to vote if Wilson’s personal phobias only affect her, or if everyone in attendance felt them as well. The comic’s choices ranged from a fear of snakes and dying alone, to more extreme worries. My personal favourite was, if her luggage may have burst open on delivery at an airport carrousel collection.
Some of her other obsessions are equally hilarious, if not too racy to mention in print. You’ll have to see the show for yourself to find out.
As a venue, the Victoria Hotel’s Banksia Room provides excellent visual support. Wilson works on a raised platform, and the rear of the space has raked seating as well.
Afterwards, one of the viewers sitting next to me made an interesting observation. She said that when a show plays to a sell – out audience such as this, viewers are given permission to laugh as a group. Thus, heightening the overall experience.
Hindsight should appeal to a wide demographic. Playing for the full duration of the festival until April 22, this is a journey well worth taking.