*****STARS

By Jessica Taurins

Michelle Brasier’s fame comes from multiple places. She’s co-creator of comedy duo Double Denim (and winner of multiple awards for their performances), as well as a recurring friend of surrealist skit group Aunty Donna, appearing in their live shows and their Netflix special. She has also appeared on multiple TV shows across ABC and The Comedy Channel, and has performed live in a number of musical tributes and performances. She also caught on fire once.

Average Bear is about putting all of that aside and focusing on different things, and is another comedy show to add to the list of ‘Shows I Didn’t Know Would Make Me Cry When I Went In, But Definitely Made Me Cry An Embarrassingly Large Amount In A Room Full Of Strangers’, which is a list I keep near and dear to my heart.

The show starts with a bear. Average is her name, and she’s hosting pre-drinks before hibernation with all of the audience members. She’s awkward, and endearing, and somewhat pantsless (to ensure she’s different from Michelle, who also performs), and is a fun, light start to a show that follows a life well-lived.

There are unexpected turns, as mentioned previously, and while they can be difficult to hear, they’re impossible to ignore. Brasier weaves her tale in such a fantastic way, bouncing around the stage with such energy even when the stories are sad, using her partner Tim as a sounding board as he accompanies her on guitar. He is the face of everyone else in her life, in this show, standing in for members of her family during conversations, or simply the sounds that happen around people as they live. Tim is a truly wonderful aspect of the show, bringing humour and brightness to every moment of the performance.

It must be said that Brasier is a stunning writer. Average Bear is not a stand-up show, but it kind of is, and it’s definitely not a musical, but it kind of is that as well. Her skill with dialogue, scene setting, and musicality flows through everything she says, sings, and belts, and perhaps even without the difficult subject matter this may well have made me cry. She writes her life like it’s a stage performance, as though each moment is fantastic and unreal despite the relatability stuffed into every anecdote. Every tale is so engrossing and, at its core, familiar, even if people haven’t seen the same life lessons Brasier has experienced.

Her songs are silly and sombre in equal parts, mostly, perhaps excluding the one regarding sexual fantasies about the main character in a children’s movie, and the one about a gross little shed where couples met up during high school. She uses her voice like an instrument, harmonising with herself in a few songs with a remarkably expensive soundboard, or simply bringing the room to a standstill in others. She could almost certainly captivate a larger crowd than the sold out room at the Comedy Republic, and hopefully in future she’s booming at arena-sized audiences in her funny little outfits and her funny little expressions.

For a show titled Average Bear, Average doesn’t appear too much. She is levity in a show with hard topics to cover, but since she’s just a metaphor, it’s not really her show to lead. She is, as Brasier explains, the little bear that lives in everyone and has big dreams without seeing the downfalls. She’s to be nurtured, even through hard times – because without a little bear, life is much much harder to live.

After this, I will be keeping my little bear close to me, and I’ll be looking out for the bears of others, just to make sure they’re okay. Brasier would do it, so everyone else should too.

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