MICF: Clowns & Character

With school stand-ups are dribbling out the same jokes we’ve heard for ever, there’s a generation of performers who are embracing everything about clowning and turning it into something that’s contemporary and exciting and completely their own. Three not to miss at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival are Joshusa Ladgrove, Tessa Waters and Trygve Wakenshaw.

Joshua Ladgrove as Dr Prof Neal Portenza
Joshua Ladgrove as Dr Prof Neal Portenza

Catchy Show Title
Dr. Professor Neal Portenza
3 April 2015

Joshua Ladgrove does character comedy. He does a way-cool Jesus, but it’s Dr Professor Neal Portenza, with his beret the same colour as his blush, who deserves his own chocolate festival.

It’s hard to describe a Dr Professor Neal show. It is likely you will be scared, or at least feel a bit nervy – so get a free hug at the beginning. But remember how brilliant it feels when you’ve confronted your fears, like your fears about performers leaving the stage. And ask the FOH staff for your fashion bracelet because, even though it’s beautiful, you will want it to throw it away at some stage.

Tessa Waters as WOMANz
Tessa Waters as WOMANz

Tessa Waters
28 March 2015

Tessa Waters is WOMANz. After wow-ing the Edinburgh Fringe, she won Most Outstanding Comedy at the 2014 Melbourne Fringe and has been exciting people at festivals all over the country in 2015.

In a bedazzzled body suit and black tights, she’s part Oestrogen Goddess but more a woman who knows herself and knows that her self was meant to dance.

She dances when she feels happy, confused, sexy or just over it. If you want to understand what “dance like no one is watching” really means, see WOMANz. And if you’re not crumping by the end, it’s because you cracked a rib laughing.

Waters’s combination of character, clown and physical theatre says more about gender and self-acceptance than the feminist section in Readings. Blending madcap with sophistication, it’s comedy that makes feeling positive about yourself the only way to feel.

Trygve Wakenshaw
Trygve Wakenshaw

Trygve Wakenshaw
29 March 2015

Trygve Wakenshaw is from New Zealand and now lives in London. He was nominated for a Barry and a Golden Gibbo Award at last year’s Comedy Festival and has brought us a new show called Nautilus.

Wakenshaw’s a physical comedian. Ok, he’s a mime. And if the M word leaves you with show-trauma memories that you don’t want to re-live, he’ll banish them and leave you wanting an I HEART MIME sticker.

Dressed in pink, ribbed, high-waist leggings and a green jumper with added white tassells, he opens the show sinking into a black plastic bin; the line between genius and absolute-nutter is slim.

There isn’t a narrative, but there are stories about fish and sea critters, one about the massive logic gap in Rapunzel, and some that leave the audiences looking away from the grossness that isn’t there. And it’s all tied together with a character who becomes more intriguingly irresistible with each voiceless moment.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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