An Ultra Power Lord is someone who gets whatever they want, according to Bart Freebairn. He’s not one hundred percent sure that he is one, though. It’s one of the questions he raises in his 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival stand up show, Ultra Power Lord.
In many ways, Freebairn is a typical modern man. Articulate and sensitive, yet also well built, he is energetic and polite in his questioning of hyper masculinity. Which is not to say the show is particularly hard hitting or confrontational, but rather it presents a silly, almost absurd look into the tensions between niceness and aggression. This isn’t an intellectual experiment; it is called Ultra Power Lord after all – the title is pretty representative of the general feel of the show.
Freebairn is both nice and aggressive, aggressively nice, perhaps, or at least infectiously enthusiastic. He is happy to be onstage upstairs at the Imperial, gathering the audience into the first five rows. Freebairn is unafraid to use the space provided by the small stage to be fully and physically expressive. His gestures and movements are buoyant and cartoonish, always complementing the joke and coaching out bigger laughs. Freebairn’s style employs mild absurdity and a constant escalation and escalation of drama, techniques which have the potential to get out of hand with a less thought out show. Ultra Power Lord, however, is well written and clearly meticulously structured, as Freebairn gleefully pulls all the threads he sets up together and apart and together again.
As is often the case with shows like this, what Freebairn really needs to improve is a crowd. Freebairn lands punch lines containing everything from puns to drug references, and while each is individually funny, different audience members laugh at different times. In a fuller room, or perhaps a smaller space, the laughter would be able to bounce and snowball into something warm and constant. The laughter of others is often a great encouragement. Yet even to an audience of thirteen, Freebairn’s stage presence and well written show is enough to provide a solid fifty five minutes of giggles, snorts and belly laughs.
Ultra Power Lord is on at the Imperial Hotel at 8pm from March 26th until April 19th. Tickets range between $15 and $20, and are available online and at the door.