I have long been a fan of Judith Lucy’s sardonic wit and her razor sharp intellect. Having followed her career since adolescence, where her political incorrectness appealed to my growing obsession with satire, I was thrilled to finally be seeing her in a one-woman capacity with her show, Judith Lucy vs Men, live at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
When you’re headed to Melbourne Town Hall or The Arts Centre during MICF, it’s pretty safe to assume that you’re going to see one of the bigger names the festival has to offer. Once inside, you feel a bit like you’re in the Qantas Lounge at the airport, except the drinks aren’t free and people don’t ever seem to leave. In fact, other patrons insist on blocking any accessible pathways and linger while waiting for their respective shows, glamorously clad and clutching at their overpriced house wine.
Pre-show loitering aside and with plastic cups filled with Pinot Noir in hand, we headed in to see what Judith had in store. In truth, I had seen her perform twice before, once with Denise Scott and at an awards night as the host. The former was disappointing and the latter, fantastic. Despite this seemingly hit and miss track record with the lady of the hour, I was reasonably convinced that I would thoroughly enjoy myself.
With the promise of salacious sexual exploits and epic fails with men and relationships, I felt like the content would pretty comfortably sit within my wheelhouse. According to a poll Judith took with the audience, via a show of hands, it was the kind of content that by and large appealed to other women and members of the LGBTIQ community. I felt in good company.
Eagerly anticipated by the audience, Judith Lucy took to the stage only a few moments late, dressed in a velvet ball gown, paired with sensible flats. This was just one of the many contradictions presented during the set. From the moment she swaggered onto the stage, I could see that Judith was in her element. ‘Seasoned Performer’ was how I referred to her performance days later as I recounted her many jokes to friends, with my very best Judith Lucy impersonation.
The show is based on a simple premise. After all of the shattering breakups, Judith has found herself fifty years old and single, once again. She is determined to put her fate in the hands of the audience, who will act like a pseudo jury in matters of the heart as she poses the burning question, should I give up dating? While it is commonplace when people pose questions like this to give a supportive, “Of course not!” I must admit, by the end of the show and with the mounting evidence to the contrary, I was even considering giving up dating myself. One thing is for sure, Judith did present quite a convincing argument for the prosecution and underneath all of the laughs, made some hilarious observations on the ridiculous societal pressures to partner up and find ‘the one’.
While many of the laughs come from Judith’s dry delivery, this does not mean that the jokes aren’t expertly written and funny in their own right, because they are. The show had an enjoyable narrative arc and ended on possibly one of the funniest jokes I have seen in a long time. While I will not reveal it here, primarily because I could never do it justice, Judith is performing until April 14th, so fans and curious MICF attendees have plenty of time to experience it in the flesh.
Everyone loves a self-deprecating comic and there’s plenty of that here, including Judith’s escapades hiring a male escort, falling into, and then remaining in a bush after throwing herself at a University tutor and getting blindsided by a recent breakup, thought to be an everlasting relationship. Judith’s physicality and presence on stage was also incredibly funny. She moves with unpredictability, taking to collapsing on stage to talk to the front row, on occasion.
In short, Judith appeals to me because she’s bold, honest, unapologetic and disinterested in conforming. Her comedy sets are refreshing because they make me feel a little less alone when it comes to disappointments and patterns of self-destructive behaviours.
I’m hesitant to say that after all of Judith’s jokes and evidence supporting her existence as a strong, single woman, I hope Judith does find love. Not because I think it would ‘complete’ her or anything lame like that, but because I think she’s glorious and would be loads of fun to spend life with. So, despite the reservations the show threw my way, I hope she still gives dating a go post fifty, even if it is just for the cracking material.