I’d like to think that if I could afford to drink enough outrageously priced $11 plastic cups of cider and if it was something other than cinnamon on the Mary Street Bakery donuts at the Noodle Palace *deep breath* then I would easily imagine the inside of my iPod Shuffle looking something like the Ramen Room with Mac the Comedy Computer propped up in one corner and *gasp... this is a really long sentence* set on Genius mode picking Fringe performers at random based on my own personal comedy preferences.
We won’t question why my comedy preferences might deliver a line up of local and international luminaries such as Art Fleaker, Nicole Henriksen, Dez Pondent, Awesomo Moustachio and Jeff Hewitt with special guest appearances by Andre Rieu and the disembodied spirits of Joseph Merrick and Kermit the Frog. That’s something I try not to talk about. No, seriously, it’s quite painful.
But that’s what we have - another bloody Steve Jobs invention trying to tell me what to think and when to laugh. Bastard! (May he rest in peace)
Of course, our Host Mac has about as much vocal intonation as Keanu Reeves in, well, pretty much any movie Keanu Reeves has been in. “Whoa, dude” is as animated as it gets. I’m picturing the film critic in Dez Pondent nodding quietly to himself in the shadows right about now, inaudibly whispering, “Duuuuuude”. (Whatever’s on those donuts is good!)
Mac struggles a little with sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation in general but I suppose that’s an advantage of not having to, you know, breathe. He’s an amiable host when not threatening all of mankind with annihilation under the cruel thumb of his inherent silicon superiority. Between his musings on life, death, and dead bodies by the river, he introduces the human component of the show. It’s kind of a like a talent quest where everyone has a five minute spot to impress. With no prizes, monetary incentives or guest appearances on Dancing with the Stars at stake. So while that’s good for the audience it kind of sucks for them I guess.
First up was motivational speaker Art Fleaker who suspiciously looked like that annoying kid from Darren the Explorer (you know, the one who wreaked havoc in Northbridge one night all because he wanted to impress his Daddy) who suspiciously looked like Luke Bolland who is quite capable of wreaking havoc anywhere to get people to laugh.
He was followed by Nicole Henriksen who gave a tantalising glimpse of her – settle down – show Makin It Rain. As disarming as she was forthright this was a captivating vignette about life as a high class stripper. I can see why her show has been extended and getting raves.
Dez Pondent clearly is not an animal but a human being. Well, if film (and theatre?) critics can be considered as such. He shared his love for films and heroic insects in a monotone that would have Keanu exclaiming, “Whoa, Dude!” How he links The Elephant Man to The Human Centipede will possibly have me awake at night for weeks to come sobbing quietly at the inhumanity of it all.
As might remembering what the Awesomo Moustachio finds in a metallic case whilst dancing to a song that innocently asks what his thoughts are on a certain sexual activity that will likely have you clenching your cheeks. In discomfit or expectation is up to you.
Every show needs a big finish and what better way than award nominated Jeff Hewitt telling us how he was award nominated for his award nominated show. If there was an award nomination for dropping award nominated into your spot the most times then Jeff Hewitt would be a dual award nominated Fringe performer. Perhaps his excitement at this prospect or the earlier example set by his peers led to a spontaneous element of disrobing that will haunt those who saw it all the way up to the award nominations night.
Then it was time for a sing-a-long to possibly the most incongruous song imaginable given the cast and circumstances. Yes, that Muppets classic, The Rainbow Connection. It’s here that the evil ringleader of this demented circus stepped out from behind the metaphorical curtain to reveal himself as one Levon Polinelli. While Levon has many talents he will not be award nominated for his singing. Stop smirking, Hewitt!
This is a loose and fun show that presents a different rotation of Fringe World stars every night that strut their stuff while paying homage to our evil computer overlords. It’s like a Best Of compilation with special commentary from a cross between Molly Meldrum and Stephen Hawking. And yes, I have completely repressed the vision of Andre Rieu doing whatever the hell it is Andre Rieu does.
Mac the Comedy Computer’s 53.3 Minute Varietynado is on at the Noodle Palace until 20 February. It's quite possible it stars whoever happens to be roaming the corridors at the time. Thankfully they’re all pretty damn talented.