What do you get when three Americans, two Australians and an Englishman walk into the Sydney Opera House? Answer: A gala hosted by Drew Carey as part of the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. It’s a comedy institution that began in Montreal some three decades ago and whilst the Australian contingent is a mere two years old, it still manages to live up to its fore father.
For 2012 it is a little strange that this is Drew Carey’s first visit to Australia. The man famous for The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line Is It Anyway? was a little beside himself to be playing in such auspicious surroundings. These days he hosts America’s The Price Is Right and he was baffled to imagine the huge leap from game show host to eminent MC.
Carey’s banter saw him offering material I’ve heard other Americans make (about our dual-flush toilets, no doubt a marvel on his virgin visit to our shores) and a tirade against Brad Pitt. But he did counter this with some clever chitchat about the PM and the Kim Kardashian phenomenon. He was also at his funniest when he spoke about the game show (FYI- winning a spa does not cover the costs to actually install it) and getting into shape (the secret to good health is to listen to your body according to his personal trainer, but he then asked, “How do you think I got this fat in the first place?”)
Charlie Pickering opened by staying he was glad to be away from the PG timeslot of The Project. He did a well-thought out routine about just how moronic people have become and also talked about how dumbed-down the news is. He then capped things off with an impression of a crazy weatherman going to extreme lengths to entertain, because a mobile app can tell you the weather forecast in seconds these days. Judith Lucy was similarly, her usual droll and sarcastic self, talking about beauty products, singledom and old folks.
Dave Gorman used his very English wit to tell some funny anecdotes from his life, including a trick he pulled on his neighbour and something that is the best fun you can have for under five bucks, which involves little more than a biro, postcard and a stamp. He also re-enacted a part from his first major trip overseas to Las Vegas and the shenanigans he and his mates got up to involving a “voice-activated” lift. He managed to be funny as well as self-deprecating and utterly relatable.
American comedian, Jeff Ross’ set was the complete opposite by comparison. He chose more controversial and sensitive topics like having sex with Danielle Spencer (too soon) and thinking about the Holocaust when he was doing it with his girlfriend. He also picked on three unfortunates in the front row; including one he dubbed the “Australian Snooki”.
Some of his set did get laughs, but at other times it was more like a collective cringe or titters of disapproval. I couldn’t help but think that the funniest line he was responsible for was one that Drew Carey had repeated in the introduction. Ross had once described the host as “Drew Carey is to comedy what Mariah Carey is to comedy”.
In a different way, Bill Burr was like a grumpy old man with his observations in his act. He said people should have to audition to stay on the planet, but conceded he probably wouldn’t pass the test. One reason was because seeing cruise-ships actually blows his mind. He asked, “How can something so big and metal stay afloat?” and “How is a pool allowed on top of water?”
The Just For Laughs comedy gala was just under two hours of quality jokes from a now worldwide institution. While some may have hit the mark more so than others, the event had certainly offered a lot of variety and plenty of joke bang for the proverbial buck. So let’s hope it continues to get bigger and even better as it grows up from its cheeky twos.
Originally published on 21 October 2012 at the following website:http://www.theaureview.com/reviews/arts-review-just-for-laughs-comedy-gala-feat-drew-carey-dave-gorman-bill-burr-jeff-ross-charlie-pickering-judith
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