Ich bin nicht ein roboter

Die Roten Punkte at the Victoria Hotel, 4th April

A mate and I recently came to the decision that there is not much out there in the world of popular Aussie stand-up comedy. We racked our brains, and apart from the familiar Working Dog/Full Frontal crew (most of whom do their best stuff on telly, not on stage), we have a pretty dim view of the local comedy scene.

I put up a valiant fight for the fabulous Jane Turner and Gina Riley (again, great on TV), but apart from a few notable exceptions, the stand-ups getting exposure on commercial media are Wil Anderson…Rove…Hamish & Andy…that other bloke who looks like Wil Anderson and….yawn….just dropped off there for a while… (post in the comments if I’m wrong, I’m happy to be proved otherwise).

This is why the Melbourne Comedy Festival is so good. From what I can gather, anyone with a computer can bash out an application and spend an exciting (or excruciating) two weeks trying out their skills in the bowels of the Town Hall or the nether regions of such dire spaces as the Victoria Hotel. On a side note, the lobby in itself is a laugh riot. We saw dozens of people bustling about hither and thither as though they were late for a plane, or the Orient Express. We saw Myf Warhurst and Alan Brough accompanied by a gaggle of handlers. We saw those volunteers who stride about self-importantly directing the flow, as though the entire proceedings hinged upon their ringing tones. There could be a comedy show about the lobbies of comedy festival events, for shizz.

Die Roten Punkte is a totally amusing act, yet hardly anyone knows who they are. We only heard about them because our Go-Go teacher insisted we dance in the background of their video clip. Well as we all know, there is nothing funnier than Germans. Euro electro music anyway, and combined with a fruity Berliner accent, wild stage cavortings and child’s toy instruments, Die Roten Punkte (The Red Dots) makes for top comedy. Schtick + music = fun times, as we can see from Flight of the Conchords, Bill Bailey, Jack Black etc.

<==Boo was an early inspiration for Flight of the Conchords.

Astrid and Otto Rot are, rather like The White Stripes, a ‘brother and sister’ rock duo with a love of red, white and black clothes and arty lighting, as well as a little incest problem. Neither comedy with songs, nor songs with comedy, Die Roten Punkte is a dysfunctional rock band who sing some great catchy tunes, do awesome dance manouvres (we suspect choreographed by Anna of Go-Go fame) and who bicker constantly throughout.

Their performance of ‘Ich Bin Nicht Ein Roboter’ was a high point, although there’s a lot to be said for the Nick Cave-inspired ‘The 4:15 To Spandau Will Not Run Today’ and the sing-along ‘Astrid’s Drinking Song’.

Part of the act involves each band member singling out someone in the audience (usually the kiss of death in lesser shows), creating the brother/sister-incest tension that makes Die Roten Punkte so funny and disturbing. Let me tell you, a good review is guaranteed when the reviewer is singled out, flirted with throughout and serenaded with a song called ‘Straight Edge Girl.’ I loves the attention. I needs help.

You have to wonder what’s going on in the thought processes of the radio producers and network heads, when they say ‘H’m, should we give this weird faux artrock/electro pisstake a go, or should we go for yet another white, male, bland stand-up with his hilarious stories about Facebook?’ and plump for the callow youth with the Rivers jeans and a degree in advanced acne.

This needs to change, as my rant richly demonstrates.

If Die Roten Punkte is the sort of thing playing in the entrails of the Victoria Hotel, playing to a half-full room on a Saturday night, then what else is going on in the world of the $22 tickets?

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4 thoughts on “Ich bin nicht ein roboter

  1. This year there are so many shows in the festival that I suspect competition is intense.A good number of people won’t make their money back on venue hire, equipment hire and sound-lighting people.I agree with your point that there is a lot of white Anglo male stand-up comedians (WAMSUC) peddling their brand of comedy. And I’m sick of the same old tired clapped out comedians being used on TV. If it is any comfort I reckon that the white male stand-ups have the most competition and without another gimmick to get people to see their show, they simply won’t get the crowds. But I think all of the ‘name’ comedians draw crowds. And if you look at the female stand-up ‘name’ comedians they are all white folks too. Judith Lucy, Corrinne Grant and even Janeane Garofalo. They are all still going to pull good numbers. If you are an unknown white male stand-up comedian you have no hope of competing with the name-brand comedians male or female.The WAMSUC have the most competition and without another gimmick to get people to see their show, they just don’t get the crowds. For example, I’ve been offered free tickets to an unknown white-male stand-up comedian’s show this week I suspect because the competition is so fierce. If you are an unknown you need something else and you need a few years to build support base. Even then I get the feeling a lot just collapse in on themselves after 3 years trying to break into the mainstream of comedy.P.S. I hope you like my acronym: WAMSUC! It sounds a bit like the type of comedy!

  2. Ed: but what is the WAMSUC gimmick? The only gimmick I can see as part of their act, as you say, handing out free tix. It’s not so much the white, male, anglo part of the equation that offends me, it’s that they all have pretty much the same thing to say.I would have more time for ’em if they were a bit different.For example. I am a big fan of Dylan Moran, Daniel Kitson, Ben Elton etc, and they are definitely in the WAMSUC camp. But each is original and hilarious in completely different ways. this is no gimmick in my book. judith Lucy doesn’t do the usual ‘motherhood/menstruation’ schtick so beloved of certain female comedians, ergo she is a ‘big name’ and deserves to be. Corinne Grant however bores the tits off me (all tip and no iceberg).On a side note, I heard someone say ‘well at least Dylan Moran is Irish…that way if he isn’t funny at all, at least he’s got an Irish accent we can all enjoy, which in itself is funny’. To be sure to be sure to be sure etc.Nice acronym, BTW!! LOL!! ROFL!E: I think it was a school project of either you or Kate, which I donned and demanded someone take a picture. Reflected glory etc..

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