This is the first year that Stephen K Amos has brought his ‘Talk Show’ to the Melbourne Comedy festival, so it brings something a bit different to our festival.
Amos’ headline shows draw a big crowd and are performed in the larger venues, but the ‘Talk Show’ takes place in the Supper Room at the Town Hall, a fairly intimate space, long and narrow, but with a good view of the stage even from the back. The show follows the familiar structure of a late night comedy talk show – Musical interlude to bring the host on stage, brief ‘stand up’ style comedic moments interspersed with informal ‘chats’ with guests, and musical and comedic performances.
Sunday’s show saw Amos welcomed to the stage by a pair of blonde Drag Queens in green sequins, who with their natural height and stiletto heels made the comedian look quite tiny. An awkward dance moment started the laughs flowing early, and then the ‘girls’ left Amos to get the show started. The first character introduced to the audience was not a ‘guest’, but ostensibly Amos’ psychic, Anya (played by comedian Susie Youssef). Anya had a substantial role to play as the psychic from a ‘generic eastern block country’, who flirted wildly with the (mostly) single men in the audience and did the odd palm reading. Youssef was quite entertaining and the audience was very responsive to her brand of humour (which revolved mostly around her attraction to various men in the audience). The first official guest was comedian Joel Creasey, who sat down with Amos and discussed his current comedy festival show and his recent stint on ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here’ and various other amusing anecdotes in true talk show style.
Creasey was followed by another Australian comedian, Rhys Nicholson, who performed his own set while Amos left the stage. Nicholson’s humour focused mainly on how he is treated as a young gay male who “dresses like a lesbian debutante”. His scathing wit was both amusing and culturally relevant (“People keep asking for tolerance – we aren’t lactose people, get a grip”) and contained many amusing personal anecdotes, including one involving an extremely politically correct mugging.
Next up, as Amos returned to the stage, was Canadian comic Katherine Ryan, who chatted with Amos about her first visit to Australia and travelling with a 5 year old, among other topics. She was followed by a performance by ‘The Voice’ runner up, Jackson Thomas, the sound of which almost overwhelmed the small venue, but clearly pleased the audience, who rewarded the performance with a much stronger response than his initial introduction. Interspersed between these acts we had further moments with ‘Anya’, and from Stephen K Amos himself.
The show delivered exactly as promised – a live version of a comedy talk show, but personally I would have liked to have heard more from headliner Stephen K Amos. It was, however, a great way to be introduced to some other performers, who were all well worth catching their own shows at a later date. The laughs came thick and fast, and the hour sped by. There is one final show you can catch next Sunday, with a completely different line-up of guests, so no spoilers here folks! Well worth catching – a highly enjoyable afternoon.