For those not sure what show of the 500+ comedy events to attend this MICF perhaps the best place to start is Drivetime with Two Leggy Redheads in the famous Speigeltent at the Arts Centre.
This is a weekly 70 minute show that zips along previewing acts, encouraging audience involvement and good old improvisation that you would expect on any drivetime radio station. The two hosts are well known; Rod Quantock has the auspicious honour of having been part of the most Comedy Festival events and combined with performer / columnist Fiona Scott-Norman they have racked up 51 festival appearances between them. This dynamic leggy duo effectively interview and banter their way along a loose schedule that allows for creative ad-libbing and taking it where their guests and audience want to go. And with a full house in the tent of mostly older folk and lots of big laughs it seems people responded well to this format and the segments on offer.
Awkward hilarity was served up first with Miss Itchy scoffing Brunetti cakes but more robust laughs abounded when Quantock read aloud his letter to BMW Southbank, aided by clever quips from Scott-Norman. How Rod’s use of the word synergy did not score a car to be raffled off we will never know! An impromptu interview of audience member Angie and her thoughts on the 6 shows she had seen so far in four days provided ample fodder for Quantock to provide off the cuff laughs from all, as well as shared adoration of the disco dancing Viking comic Dave Callan who will be a future drivetime guest. Next up was an interview with Nick Taros, which provided funny comparisons and insight into his ability to see 147 festival shows in one year and crowning him the Funny Tonne winner for 2012. The prize guest though was veteran comedian and Barry Award winner Mike Wilmot who revealed what peelers and the Commonwealth mean for Canadians, and just why he has been such a successful comedian both here and overseas for nearly three decades. His inclusion in the inaugural 2015 drivetime show was a great decision, as was the more unusual choice of Eugene Wong and Mike Klimezak from Squeaky Clean Comedy. Clean versus Rude banter between these guys, the hosts and Wilmot got big laughs and really typified how varied the festival is and how it can suit all Melbournians and visitor comical tastes. Towards the finish we got the chance to listen to the lovechild of Paul and Ned Kelly, in the form of musical comic artist Bo Heartbreaker, whose guitar song about being average got everyone singing enthusiastically along to the chorus. Throughout the process both hosts inserted clever quips and witty asides just as you would expect, showcasing their ability to be in tune with all the craziness going on as well as adding to the humour level themselves.
With so many varied and at times hard to contain guests, it did now allow much time for the merry but borderline ridiculous quiz segment involving three audience members towards the end. Perhaps all this means is that 90 minutes of drivetime madcap fun is worth a thought if it continues within future festival formats. As we all know from radio, the success of this fluid format rests on two aspects; one the quality of the guests invited and secondly the hosts’ ability to guide the segment but allow their visitors in the hot seat to generate the big laughs. In both aspects the show succeeded on most accounts. Recommended for those who want a plateful of hilarious taste testers with Michael Leunig, Dave Callan, Penny Green and Mike Dunlop locked in as future guests. Laughs guaranteed.