There’s nothing better than seeing quick sets from a random sprinkling of young talented comics, particularly those you are unlikely to otherwise know the names of. If that happens to be your shtick, or if you just have a limited attention span, then The Comedy Zone, presented by the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and in support of emerging artists, is the show for you.
The premise is essentially five up-and-comers, performing tight sets, back-to-back. This year, the festival powers that be had chosen Bec Melrose from NSW, David Woodhead from the Northern Territory, Charity Werk from Victoria and Emma Holland from the ACT. Evidently a fairly representative geographic sprinkling as well! Additionally, the show was adequately hosted by Ben Kochan, who kept things moving along smoothly and with some decent jokes himself.
When MICF comes around every year, I absorb the energy of it wholeheartedly, I entrench myself in the comedy scene both on the frontline at gigs and from the comfort of my own home, with the undying support of my Netflix subscription. I begin pontificating and heatedly debating with my go-to comedy-literate friends about the various merits of the current crop of comedians. In short, I get serious about comedy. This passion lasts for a month while the festival is on, just as I take up tennis with ridiculous fervour during the Australian Open.
An example of such enthusiasm is that this year, I got stuck in a YouTube spiral which lead me to the RAW Comedy Competition Grand Finals from the last few years. This proclivity got slightly out of control for a while as I listened without watching, via YouTube, hands-free in my car, like the latest episode of a gripping crime podcast. It was during these sessions, that I came across the quietly hilarious Bec Melrose, a comic that was crowned the winner of the competition last year. Herein lies my reason for seeking out tickets to The Comedy Zone at MICF, so that I could see what else she had to offer.
I am pleased to say that both my compatriot for the evening and I would argue that the ladies stole the show and we found ourselves laughing the hardest at Bec Melrose and Emma Holland, both showing loads of potential. As aforementioned, Bec Melrose had drawn me to the show in the first place, but I was pleased to discover another talented young comedian, Emma Holland, who I will now seek out at the MICF in years to come. I would argue that in most cases, props can be cumbersome in a comedy show but she utilised her accompanying artwork expertly and without fumbling around. Although very different, Melrose and Holland share an intellect and a polished approach to their respective sets. They’re also very current, which means that their comedy will continue to evolve as the world does.
As for the other three comics, Charity Werk, David Woodhead and Ben Kochan, they were all good in their own ways and delightfully different from one another. David Woodhead in particular, was the strongest at off-the-cuff comedy as he interacted with enthusiasm, with a loud punter/heckler from advertising, close to the back. He did well.
In short, The Comedy Zone was good, it wasn’t great. Overall, the comics need to hone their respective styles and delivery. With that said, the more I think about it, the more I think it would be the ideal show to take a first date to- uncomplicated, fast-paced, exuberant, youthful and at the end of the day, just a bit of fun.