MICF: Eric, Sammy J & Randy, and Ben

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival finishes tomorrow! Which means it’s your last chance to see all the shows you’ve been meaning to see all festival – and discover the shows that started this week.

Scott Gooding, Eric
Scott Gooding, Eric

Eric’s back!

Last seen in 2009, Eric’s a one-person sketch show. He’s not a character but a blank page everyman – a white, 40-something, straight, aging-well, suit-wearing everyguy – who performs 27 sketches about such men.

Eric is Scott Gooding who’s directed by Scott Brennan, and The Return of Eric is written by Emilie Collyer, Dave Hoskin, Karin Muiznieks, Morgan Rose, Neil Triffet and Nic Vellissaris.

From stopping a PM from jumping to adopting a manchild to heading down the Nepean* to escape hipstergeddon, Gooding changes character on a pin head and gives every Eric the chance to show their heart or fall on their arse. And with so many sketches in less than an hour, Brennan doesn’t allow for a second of wasted time and ensures that there are moments to reflect before landing the next joke and meeting a new Eric.

As a form, Eric stands alone. Without the personal reflection of stand up or the safe distance of detailed character, The Return of Eric is able to bite all the hands that feed and to snap at the many worlds where middle aged guys think they are in control.

A chat with Scott Gooding.

* As someone who had to head down the Nepean (to escape dick landlords rather than the hipsters), I think Brighton is still doing a good job of stopping the approach to Zone 2.

Sammy J and Randy
Sammy J and Randy

Sammy J and Randy are launching their Difficult First Album album. You can buy it at their show, Difficult First Album Tour.

With favourite songs and moments from past shows, it’s a night for fans to celebrate everything we love about the housemates from Ricketts Lane. If you, somehow, have yet to fall in love with the genius of the bald purple fuzzy guy and his tall and skinny friend, this is a chance to catch up on their story but a best of show is never as wonderful as a complete story.

Ben McKenzie is Uncool
Ben McKenzie is Uncool

Ben McKenzie is Uncool is about passion, never being afraid to love what you love, and the difference between a nerd and a hipster.

It also has one more night in Brunswick Street’s Provincial Hotel. The nerds will tell you to bring your friends and will soon be wearing “I’m as uncool as Ben McKenzie” t-shirts; the hipsters will tell you that the show was only really good back in week 2.

Uncool is Ben sharing his stories about being a nerd. He’s so nerdy that there’s a card game to choose which stories he tells. With unfinished degrees, <joke> HTML </joke> and a love of Stegosauruses, the Harry Potter books and Doctor Who, I glowed with the warmth of knowing I’m uncool, but Ben proves that I don’t deserve to call myself a nerd.

Ben’s knowledge and obsessive fandom puts me to shame. He makes me want to read more and stop playing Candy Crush, because it really is a crap game that requires no skill.

Without a hint of cynicism, Uncool is about redefining our definitions of cool and about loving what we love with the kind of passion that would make Fonzie want to be a nerd.

A chat with Ben.

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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