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Comedy fest: Celebrity Theatresports (Review)

Leon Saw

Fri Apr 27 2012

Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Celebrity Theatresports

A COMEDY festival favourite, Meld’s Leon Saw gets stuck in the no-holds-barred competition of improvised comedy called Celebrity Theatresports.

On the TV show, Whose Line Is It Anyway, everything is perfect. Everything is pristine. The performances are inspired, the verbal and visual punch lines precision-guided, and the audience are in perpetual stitches.

Celebrity Theatresports was exactly like that except for one tiny little detail: it wasn’t on TV. It was on stage at The National Theatre. Hence, amidst comedy gold, you get a few bizarre skits and lame bombs, preceding smatters of polite yet confused applause.

The show was basically theatresports where opposing teams of relatively famous people re-enact scenarios or scenes, usually suggested by audience members, often to comedic effect, for points to be declared winners of the show.

Celebrity Theatresports started curiously enough with the host professing to not being one, before parading a small army of people on stage for introductions.

There were of course the celebrities: 17 in total split into four teams. They were no Kylie Minogues or Nicole Kidmans, with the most recognisable arguably being Scott Major and Jordan Smith from Neighbours, and the excellent Nicola Perry of Thank God You’re Here fame. Then there were the three judges who’re also of certain renown, one of them being 1985 Logie winner Noni Hazlehurst. Even the stagehands and timekeeper got a mention.

So as you can probably imagine, the show was a bit crowded, especially since all the celebrated judging panel had to do was silently raise scorecards after each team’s performance, and the host could have handled the timekeeper’s bell-ringing and whistle-blowing duties.

But how far up the stairway to comedy heaven did Celebrity Theatresports ascend? The slow-motion skits went down well, as did the accent interpretations, which almost always gets laughs. And then there was a rapping Yoda (yes, right you heard) that had the whole theatre in tears.

There was also plenty of audience participation in the form of ideas for scenarios, and the odd harmless heckle or two, as well as generous showers of lollies in between scenes to keep the energy going.

The forgettable performances aren’t worth mentioning, but the evening’s crowd was a supportive one, cheering and clapping at their conclusion, and then turning on the judges for awarding them miserable scores.

Oh, who won in the end? Why the audience of course. There are worse ways to open the season.