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?