‘Hot Mess Comedy’ was refreshing.
It’s worth a visit to West End’s almost-hidden venue, The Sideshow, for a chance to laugh along with ‘Hot Mess Comedy’ – a stand-up show that gives a taste of Australia’s comedic talent right here in Brisbane.
One would be forgiven for thinking they were transported to Toronto or Chicago upon entering the long, narrow room with a single mic stand on a raised stage. The graffiti-walled space was complete with a gaudy red comedy-club curtain and hip hop music blaring at full volume.
The monthly Sunday night show had the right atmosphere on 7 February with stage direction of sorts by Ting Lim and Sandeep Totlani: sold out, line-up at the bar, generous laughter throughout and a healthy dose of audience interaction.
Host Emma Zammit explained how the show works: the first half allows comics to perform their rehearsed stand-up routines (though some explained they were trying new material); the second half puts their improv skills on display, with audience suggestions displayed on a screen for five minutes of fun per topic. Then – the audience votes by applause as performers are pitted against each other to win … the honour of winning!
Zammit was a talented, at-ease host, with great audience interaction right off the bat as she persuaded a pair to move to the empty front row, promising not to insult them. Particularly amusing was her reaction to another audience member’s offer to give her tips on how to aim while peeing in the shower, and her attempts to demonstrate how that might play out.
Sunday’s line-up included Vanessa Larry Mitchell, Ethan Simiana, Chris Martin, and Anisa Nandaula (recently on stage at Metro Arts with her spoken-word poetry performance ‘How to Spell Love’), plus “surprise interstate drop-ins” Luke Heggie and Matt Sutherland.
The “hot mess” that night included your typical range of jokes: priest pedophiles, tampons & bodily functions; as well as thoughtful observations of how to take advantage of Facebook from Martin, and a reference to white male privilege that briefly quieted the room but (thankfully) turned out to be funny from Sutherland.
Simiana and Nandaula stood out for their physical comedy, with Nandaula earning one of the loudest laughs of the night for her description of adopting a child through World Vision – a child from Ipswich who started their letter in their “native language” with, “Dear Anisa…Fuckin’ yeah nahhhhh…”
Highlight performers were Heggie and Mitchell for their natural delivery and confidence on stage. Heggie opened the show with some delightfully cynical deadpan takes on Brisbane cafes, dog owners and cyclists; Mitchell owned the room, sharing personal stories and bantering with the audience–eventually winning by a longshot for her skilful improvisation in the second half of the show.
The improv section was particularly interesting to watch: very few comics shone while many floundered to deliver on topics including “Rocket Launch Pad Small Talk”; “Induction Day at the Nunnery”; “Runner-Up Sperm Monologue” and “How to be a Good Dictator”. But the audience was generous, yelling out comments and questions in what appeared to be good-natured efforts to help them along.
Refreshing for its range of talent, supportive audience and all-around great vibes, ‘Hot Mess’ would make a great Sunday session for anyone wanting to laugh, occasionally cringe, but most importantly: watch performers do what they love. Highly recommended.
The ‘Hot Mess Comedy’ event is the first Sunday of every month at the Sideshow in Brisbane’s West End. For more information, including details on the comedians featured each month, visit the Hot Mess Comedy Facebook page.