While I enjoy live music and theatre, I've been booking more comedy recently and saw that something called “Raw Comedy” was taking place at The Playhouse in Darwin.
Raw Comedy is an Australia-wide competition with heats and finals in each state or territory. I happened to have a free Saturday when the final was to take place. Booked!
The Playhouse is part of the Darwin Entertainment Centre and the crowd was positively throbbing! There was a huge queue of people trying to pick up tickets and stage management egging everyone to be a little faster so things could get underway. Despite this, the show did not start until 30 minutes after it was called. Yes, I could have queued for a drink had I known!
Beside me I had a Yorkshireman and his Adelaidian wife – he had come to Australia and become a local radio star after a career as a heavy metal musician had petered out.
Raw Comedy: The Talent
The show was introduced by a successful former competitor, bringing on stage 4-5 ‘raw' comedians per half. Up first was a 17 year old Indian-Australian, who sadly faltered through some pretty decent material and whose nerves were charming (where they might have been annoying in another performer). Two ‘dad jokers' were up next and it only became clear later they had won heats to get here. Then came a woman in startling red leggings below a mushroom cloud of black taffeta. Sadly her jokes were less than nuclear.
The Unexpected Intermission
Being on an outer aisle seat is not only superb for stretching your legs in theatres which lack a central nave, but get you to the facilities (loo or bar) before your compatriots.
I ordered up a vinegary shiraz and found a corner to enjoy it. In front of me, an older couple took up a spooning position with wandering hands. To each their own! I was horrified when he wandered off rolling a joint and she made a beeline for me, immediately striking up a conversation. I have a chatty face.
She questioned me back and forth. However, her own story came to dominate, e.g., she was a musician recently returned from a tour of Paris (although as the discussion unfolded – she may have visited Paris and sung outside a bar). She was, it appears, a pyschiatrist and decided that anyone she met was ripe for intervention. She questioned and probed a very unwilling me on the matter of death. I tried to be as polite as possible, praying for the theatre bell. It all turned out fine, because her desire to hear my opinion was fairly thin and the discussion was a thinly veiled way of telling me that she was doing marvellously 7 years after her son had died. A sad story, unsolicited, warrants the same sympathy.
The Second Half
The energy of the audience was much diminished either by the consumption of beverages or the nervousness of the acts. This group of comedians were certainly very charming. There were two gay comedians who were unable to move beyond a single gay note and a wonderful woman who talked through her weight gain over 20 years in both complex and hilarious ways. The winner surely?
To my slight bemusement, the funny but inarticulate 17 year old won and pressed on to the Melbourne finals to represent Darwin and the Northern Territory. Good luck to him!
Comedy always makes for a fun night out! Tickets cost $39 AUD before taxes and fees.