16 March, 2018 at “Jade”, Adelaide Fringe
Raw, but we ate it up. This performance was one of those closest to the spirit of the Fringe, where non or semi-professionals can test their abilities, and material, in front of an Adelaide crowd, a crowd that is no pushover, albeit less querulous than Milan and less violent than Edinburgh.
Co-producers Simon Coad and Adrian Nippress, in collaboration with Simon Goodes, created the gruesome conceit of a mock ‘Telethon,’ with all the forced striving to entertain and chaotic variety which that entails, and whilst The Varnished Culture had reservations (of which more shortly), it was a damn good college try.
Adrian and Simon introduced the telethon and then lounged in easy chairs (see main image) to exchange humorous inanities, occasionally taking a call on the dedicated phones, seeking donations to “make Adelaide great again” – a Donald Trump line eerily apt in view of the general election scheduled for the following day. Coad returned with a routine (or ‘rant’) but for us, this didn’t gel – the material (e.g. bad coffee on planes) seemed tired and the delivery not as tight as it should have been. The stand-up elements obviously need work to strengthen the jokes and the overall structure, but we think it won’t be work wasted.
Coad was joined by vocalist Bec Taylor for a rap number, and Taylor also delivered a solo, “The Bare Necessities” (from the Disney version of The Jungle Book, again, a judicious thematic choice). Taylor’s costume seemed to fit either a 1970’s telethon or talent show – take your pick – but her vocal delivery was top-notch, and had the audience tapping toes, clapping hands and clinking wine glasses. There was also – consistent with the ‘variety’ offered by telethons – a couple of professional improv artists from the Fringe (see below), who took suggestions from the crowd and performed to them (if you’ve ever seen Whose Line is it Anyway? you’ll get the picture).
Nippress returned in blue-collar gear and High-Viz as “Hubert Sprogg,” spokes-bloke for the Department of Transport Planning & Infrastructure. In a highly-charged segment, Sprogg told us why we were dead-wrong to complain about the superbly-planned city of Adelaide and its current “development.” There was a touch of Dickensian anger in this act, and why not? Some luvvies in the crowd shifted a little uneasily – this was, after all, a somewhat lethal poke at the incumbent government – but High Tories in the crowd such as L and the remaining free-thinkers found some of the material too true to be funny, albeit some of it too funny to be true.
All in all, this was an aspirational, probationary effort that requires work, which it doubtless will receive. We, and clearly most others, had fun, and enjoyed the laid-back funkiness of the venue to boot. The run has ended, but keep an eye on this mob in future.