By Nick Pilgrim
This review may contain spoilers
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is an annual month-long highlight of the city’s live entertainment calendar. Local and overseas acts converge on the town every Autumn, for what is the second-largest laughter celebration (next to The Edinburgh Comedy Festival) in the world.
When the virus that dared not speak its name pulled the rug out from under last year’s event, thankfully, 2021 is already looking bigger and better than ever.
What makes the MICF particularly special, is the wide range of acts and shows on offer, catering to every taste and demographic. That there is a visible and growing LGBTQI+ presence, gives the jam-packed event ongoing diversity as well.
Out comics whom have made significant names for themselves past and present at the festival include Josh Thomas, Tom Ballard, Zoe Coombs Marr, Joel Creasey, Hannah Gadsby, Geraldine Hickey, Christian Hull, Demi Lardner and Rhys Nicholson. Just to name a few.
Nath Valvo is a baby-faced pocket rocket, ramping traditional brick wall stand-up to eleven. But don’t let his wholesome looks fool you. Energetic and handsome, he is a switched-on diva with attitude to spare.
(In this instance, it seemed appropriate that the pre-show was a selection of thumping club tunes, supported by a rotating mirror ball with pink and purple spot lighting, and a sparkling sequinned backdrop. As expected at the top of his routine, even Valvo couldn’t help but note the ironic coincidence.)
Thanks to the genius of YouTube’s algorithm recommendations, I quickly became an online fan of his observational comic contributions.
A particularly brilliant five-minute rant on how ridiculous restaurants and cafe menus are may be found at the following link:
Seeing Valvo live and in person, however, takes his working style to another level. From the outset, the energy in the air is palpable.
Thanks to flawless timing and immaculate delivery, the jokes fly thick and fast. This is a man who knows both himself and his intended audience. Meaning, everyone can relate to Valvo’s stories, but at the same time, no one is safe from his brand of truthful criticism.
In no particular order, the comic’s dynamic set included topics such as:
- Batting above your average in the dating pool
- Being single versus being in a relationship
- Breaking up with Facebook
- Conspiracy theorist groups
- Hoarding his family’s supply of Cocoa Pops
- Kids and their crazy parents
- Learning new skills during lockdown
- Netflix addiction
- Oversharing mums and their addiction to True Crime
- Partying in your twenties versus maturing in your thirties
- Putting a gay spin on Jim’s mowing
- Rent shaming versus owning a house
- Social Anxiety Disasters
- Taking new mums clubbing
- The disturbing common thread between dating for gay men and dating for straight women
- The gay marriage plebiscite
- Valvo’s boyfriend and his family
- What happens when your parents retire
- White wine’s truth serum properties
- Why gay men only have female friends
- Why relationships in movies are nothing like real life
- Why staying in an Air B&B is a bad idea
- Why threesomes don’t work
- Why you only need six friends
The list goes on.
There was also an occasional section devoted to scary stories, which kept getting funnier with each iteration.
Valvo’s mastery of his craft was cemented by several audience interactions. That he could think of responses to their answers on the spot, mining big laughs in the process, is a special gift indeed.
Finally, Max Watt’s is a venue suitable for this brand of entertainment. A former cinema, the space has solid sight lines and though intimate in size, holds large crowds in comfort.
Flying by at an hour in length, Nath Valvo – Chatty Cathy runs for the duration of the MICF until Sunday 18 April. Catch him while you can.