Class Clowns Review - ArtsHub


Class Clowns 2010

By Lin Tan, ArtsHub

THE MALTHOUSE: A blend of nerves and sophisticated comedic material invaded The Malthouse at this year’s 'Class Clowns National Grand Final'.

A blend of nerves and sophisticated comedic material invaded The Malthouse at this year’s Class Clowns National Grand Final. Founded in 1996, Class Clowns is a comedy competition organised by the Melbourne International Comedy Festival open to secondary students across the country. Each comic competes within his or her own home state; the winners of which get invited to the Grand Final.

With five minutes of stage time, an array of acts from group sketch shows, to stand-up to musical comedy are performed by14 to 17-year-old comedians. The venue was filled with supportive secondary students from all over Victoria, and hosted by Tom Gleeson (The 7PM Project), who provided humorous, entertaining interludes between acts.

His stand-up material was successfully catered to a younger crowd, but was by no means infantilising. He poked fun at his ginger hair and the ubiquitous iPhone, which, according to Gleeson, is “like a penis – only fun to pull out when you’re on your own, not on the dinner table”.

The event had a total of 13 acts, a guest appearance by comedian Josh Earl, and Bronwyn Pike MP, Barry Award Winner Sammy J, Denise Scott and Virginia Lovett (MICF General Manager) as the judges. Despite the fact that Generation Z often get a lot of stick for being clueless, Facebook-obsessed ‘kids’, the performers displayed an acute understanding of many current social and political issues, which surfaced in much of their material.

Ned Hirst from ACT, who was also the first runner-up in the competition, had a strong political and intellectual undertone in his witty performance, referencing current affairs as well as showcasing an impressive, confident delivery.

Second runner-up belonged to female duo and best friends, Tasmin McFarlane and Polly Maudlin, who provided a gloriously quirky, deadpan musical number entitled, What’s Not Funny? (answer: “Christine Nixon”). Their chemistry on stage mirrored that of two hilarious friends, playing off each other with ease, and displaying the comedic timing of a well-seasoned act.

Providing the first sketch show of the afternoon was third runner-up, Scratch Me Happy (Dayne Spencer and Jarron Dodds). Their show tackled a creepy, stalker-like relationship between boss and colleague with flamboyant theatrics and admirable focus, leaving the audience with a memorable punchline at the end.

Last but not least, winner of the Grand Final went to Matthew Ford, who despite being only 16-years-old looked more like a twenty-something adult. With an extraordinary stage presence, Ford’s stand up comedy stole the event with some creative material that included sharp, witty observations, sealing him as undoubtedly a comedic talent to look out for.

Special mention must go to Haydn McKertish, whose insightful stand-up act, mostly centred on racism and social issues, is comparable to renowned comedy duo, Fear of the Brown Planet.

The wonderful self-deprecating humour of Annie Louey, and her anecdotal experiences of being lost in translation between Western and Eastern culture, was charmingly endearing to watch, let alone hysterical.

Whilst nerves might have overshadowed a lot of the performances, this by no means undermines the evident sophistication and potential bubbling within these talented performers.

For now, only experience stands in their way, and apart from providing a memorable and inspiring show, Class Clowns is truly the go-to event to suss out Australia’s raw, bright young comedic talents in the making.