One of my worst nightmares is going to a local comedy gigs and watching someone bomb out. It truly makes my toes curl. I hate it so much that I rarely attend such events, opting instead to pay ridiculous amounts of money to see the pros do their thing – at least that way I'm guaranteed a laugh and spared the image of an ammeter comedian's joke flying out into a deadpan crowd and splattering onto the floor like a projectile vomit.
So when I say that I loved the comedy line up put together for the most recent Comedy Kweens night at Gingers (Oxford Hotel, Sydney), it's not a review to be taken with a grain of salt.
As we packed into an almost full house, we were welcomed by our effervescent and delightful host (and Queen of the Comedy Kweens), Cleo. If I'd learnt one thing in my terrible stand up comedy viewings, it was that the host's ability to make a crowd laugh doesn't always mean those who follow will be any good. Cleo sprinkled posi vibes into the crowed and had us bubbling with giggles, but as the first act was introduced on stage I was primed to feel awkward and sink into my turtle neck.
Turns out, I need not have worried because the acts who followed had me in stitches (one even caused me to have a close-call-wet-the-pants experience).
Taking the stage first was Jacinta Gregory. Her act was smooth and well rehearsed; I instantly felt relaxed when I saw her take charge of the stage. From learning about her Jesus masturbation tendencies to her hilarious musical portrayal of being a shy person in a club, Gregory had us in the palm of her hand from the get go.
A highlight was her "fun little ditty" aimed to make depression palatable. Gregory gave us a taste of her truly impressive vocal range and left us all with a great piece of advice: any topic is easy to talk about, if you sing about it in a sexy voice.
Next was comedy newcomer Brendan Hancock. Again, hearing that he was somewhat of a comedy virgin returned me to my former state of panic. I was practicing my over the top laugh and obnoxiously loud clapping, just in case the pressure of a live crowd was all too much for him. But again, I was wrong to worry. Hancock's act, while short and sweet, was the perfect pick-me-up from Gregory's hilariously confronting mental health musical.
The big news of the day for Hancock was his new hat, which ended up being the centrepiece of his short little bit. He was quick-witted, unapologetic and interacted well with the crowd. You could say these are the perfect ingredients to make for a successful comedian, so we're interested to keep an eye on his comedy career.
The final act of the first half was one of my favourites of the evening. High school teacher come stand up queen Lily Starr really tells it like it is. She played the audience perfectly, balancing skilfully on the line of making us laugh while also making some of us feel like a dickhead (basically anyone who was a straight, white dude or a cat).
She pulled on some common comedy threads – 'this is what it was like coming out to my parents', 'this is why straight men suck', 'here's an interesting observation about cats and dogs' – but her delivery was spot on and her presence was captivating, so her material didn't feel tired or overdone. I'd pay money to see a whole show of Starr's work, she was a true highlight of the evening.
After intermission, Annaliese Constable took the stage with a love letter to her girlfriend, Emily. In what I can only assume was an attempt to reflect the true nature of being in love, Constable's letter included many references to times where things weren't quite so rosy – like the time she tried to pull Emily's face off during a night terror, or when Emily "accidentally" scraped Constable's sun-blistered back with "the wrong end of an aloe vera tube", drawing blood. Ah, true love.
Constable's approach was different to the rest of the line up; it was more like a performance than a stand up set but it was a nice format break up. Constable is a regular contributor at Queer Stories, perhaps that's why she took more of a storytelling approach.
Next was robo-comedian and stuntman Connor Van Vuuren, who performed 3/4 of his stint as a fairly convincing robot. His main schtick was making fun of humans for being weak (who knew empathy was a redundant emotion?) and while a lot of his jokes had me guffawing, a few of them failed to land. When he came out of robot mode, he made one of my favourite jokes of the evening (although I can't for the life of me remember what it was), but overall his performance was a little inconsistent.
We finished the show with a bang when Jake Howie took centre stage. His set was the longest but I was hanging on his every word; I didn't want it to end. Howie's rapport with the audience was by far the strongest and his delivery was perfectly timed to a tee.
There was too much hilarious material flying out of him for me to be able to think back on some highlights (although I do recall him saying something about mounting his husband in an Uber pool with a mouth full of vomit???).
Again, Howie is someone I'd confidently pay to see more of... I don't mean in a naked way... I mean I'd pay to see a solo performance of his. Get your mind out of the god damn gutter.
This collection is queer comedy at its finest. Do yourself a favour and head along to their next show.
Comedy Kweens is running again on the 11th of July. Check out www.thekweens.com for more details.