Rose Callaghan is back at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival with more stories and more mates. After last year’s sell out run last year, it’s not surprising that Callaghan has continued with the simple split bill format. She does roughly half an hour of her own material, in between two special guest spots of about ten minutes. The guests range from well known, to upcoming, to unknown, including Nellie White and Cameron James. This year, the show is located at Hugs and Kisses.
Hugs and Kisses is a difficult venue to find. There are, it turns out, a lot of laneways near building sites with pink lights hanging over doorways in Melbourne. The venue doesn’t appear on Google Maps, and Callaghan has had to put written directions, complete with photographs, on her website. It’s so Melbourne it feels like a stereotype, from the sign in requirement to the bar tender who ignores you. The space itself is welcoming, cabaret-esque without being off putting. This is, of course, in part due to Callaghan’s presence.
Callaghan is welcoming, friendly and upfront. Her humour is anecdotal and frank without being on the nose. “So that’s where I’m at” is basically Callaghan’s catchphrase. She’s self deprecating yet self aware, but really Callaghan is also cute and normal. The crowd seem a little surprised at her willingness to swear, but they sit back and settle into her jumpy, giggly rhythm quickly. Callaghan takes it all in her stride, interacting with her audience but not picking on them, improvising but not getting off topic. It all happens so smoothly that it’s a shock to the system when Callaghan stops to introduce her first guest for the evening, Nellie White.
As White points out, she and Callaghan both have brown hair, fringes and glasses. Their comedic styles, however, are very different, but not incompatible. White is droll, almost deadpan except for the amount that she smiles. Her pacing is measured, the delivery slowed to allow for full impact. There is something delightfully devious about the whole set; it’s a very effective plug for her show.
Cameron James, on the other hand, does not have glasses or brown hair with a fringe. He does have a suite of neat, polite jokes to tell. Currently acting mostly as a children’s performer, James has a myriad of material about the discrepancies between adults and kids as audiences. In many ways, James is childlike himself. Buoyant and upbeat, he bursts onto the stage singing and is unafraid to use to stage space. It’s unsurprising that his MICF show is a sketch show.
Callaghan is an excellent MC, and the format of the show makes for an hour of comedy that is never dull. It operates as a rotating showcase, an early evening starter to a night of comedy. Upcoming guests include David Quirk, Kate Dehnert, Wil Sylvince (USA), as well as those so famous they can’t be listed. Rose Callaghan and Mates 2: Return of the Mates is a sure-fire success, yet with Callaghan’s performance skills one can only hope that she will branch out into a solo show next year.
Rose Callaghan and Mates 2: Return of the Mates is on at 6:45pm at Hugs and Kisses until Saturday April 18th. Tickets range between $12 and $17 and are available online and at the door.
Cameron James is part of Jekyll & James – Cactus Blastus at the Forum Theatre. Check the Melbourne International Comedy Festival website for more details.
Nellie White is performing Idiot Dick at the Bull and Bear Tavern. Check the MICF website for more details.