Aussie Stand Up

Frank-WoodleyThe flight home last night ended up being a five and a half hour marathon rather than the regular 4 1/2 hr deal. I don’t fly anywhere near as much as I used to but you have to be grateful for those little seat back entertainment systems that seem to be standard fare on all Qantas flights now. You can sit down, zone out and come back when the plane lands.

I managed to find myself in the back row next to the toilets… lovely… as you are continually getting bumped by people walking past, you are last for food service and then there’s the disturbing aromas  that waft from the toilets into your area… Not sure what I did to deserve that particular spot, but I think I’ll be checking in much earlier from now on!

The in-flight movie choice wasn’t that impressive. I had watched the Silver Lining Playbook on the way over as well as The Impossible, both nothing special, but watchable. I had seen several others so I was down to the dregs. I tried Parental Guidance, Guilt Trip and finally Lincoln, but none could hold my interest past the 10 minute mark, so I decided to move to the stand up comedy section.

There was an hour from each person and it was quite intriguing to observe the different approaches to genre each brought. I watched an hour of Carl Barron and some chunks of Akmal Saleh, Frank Woodley, Judith Lucy and Arj Barker.

Barron is genuinely funny, both with stories and facial gestures and he manages to circle back to some familiar themes throughout his repertoire. He moves between a west Sydney drawl and a more intelligible style of speaking. Akmal Saleh does the same, and while he’s funny in places a lot of his humour is at the expense of the audience as he throws out insults and interacts while thinking on his feet.

Judith Lucy has moments of being very funny, but I really struggle with her whining voice. I guess its her trademark and some will love it, but as far as female comediennes go, I’ll take Kitty Flanagan any day. When I flicked across to Arj Barker no one was laughing… He did get better, but the big winner for me was Frank Woodley who impressed  with his ability to be genuinely funny without having to say ‘F&ck’ every second word, without having to insult his audience, and without having to resort to obscenity.

I’m not particularly precious about those things, but it seems they are the way to get a quick laugh and Woodley didn’t take the easy route. He had some great content.

I like to watch the various Comedy festivals when they come around, but each year the  level of explicit and offensive sexual material seems to rachet up a notch. Its a shame because now it seems that the challenge is to be the edgiest with content rather than the funniest. I reckon audiences sometimes laugh because its the only way to deal with the awkwardness.


So if you’re an Aussie stand up comedian then I reckon your challenge in this culture at this time is to get people laughing without having to say ‘F&ck’, without having to speak of incest or bestiality and without having to insult your audience. There aren’t many who seem to be able to jump that bar.

Maybe that’s our fault?… If we don’t laugh at them then maybe they’d get the message. I hope I’m not just getting old and grumpy, but I would love to see a whole crew of stand ups come through who are just FUNNY.



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