“Life is a burrito. We’re born, we are shovelled into a channel of carbohydrate, and the weight of life’s commitments are thrown on top of us. The cheese of career. The tomato salsa of broken dreams. The guacamole of expectation. The sour cream of regret.”
Lauren Bok is a familiar and friendly face. She has been doing stand up for four years, appearing around Melbourne and Adelaide in comedy rooms, split bill acts and sketch groups. She’s even been on television, as a co-host of Channel 31’s Live on Bowen. At this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival, she debuts her first solo show – Is That a Burrito in Your Pocket or are You Just Happy You Have a Burrito?
It has to be noted – the advertising for this show is pretty spectacular. Bok’s poster won the YAWP online magazine competition for Best Fringe Poster, and it’s no surprise. The image is a neat visual gag in and of itself, and it demonstrates Bok’s commitment to a good physical joke. The media press release is positively pun-tastic. “’I’ve been wrapped up in filling the show with jokes,’ Lauren says, ‘I’m spilling the re-fried beans on things I’ve wanted to taco about for a while. In the past I’ve tried not to be too corny, but I’m ready to roll, go the full enchilada and get jalapeno face.’”
The show itself is not particularly burrito-centric. Tucked around the back and up the stairs in a room called ‘the Dock’ inside the Courthouse Hotel, Bok is performing in a space roughly the size of a large bedroom. The intimacy of the space suits her, builds an instant connection between the audience of fifteen odd and the performer on the small, barely raised stage. Bok is comfortable, buoyant with a nervous excitement that she lets into her movements but not her voice. In response, the crowd relax too, settling in to Bok’s choppy joke rhythm, smoothed over by fluidity of her personality.
Bok uses mime and facial expression alongside a meandering, personable style of stand up. The material she presents and the manner in which she does it makes it seem lighter than life, not larger. Is That a Burrito follows the traditional solo format common amongst first shows – Bok edges from comedic flippancy towards a more serious and personal experience for a cathartic dénouement. The tone doesn’t drop too dramatically, and Bok doesn’t really reach beyond a cursory nod to the form with her giggle-worthy “life is like a burrito” speech.
Bok is one to watch closely, which is pretty easy to do in this space. Energetic, warm, but lacking in Mexican food, Is That a Burrito in Your Pocket or are You Just Happy You Have a Burrito? is a delightful way to spend fifty minutes this Fringe season.
Is That a Burrito in Your Pocket or are You Just Happy You Have a Burrito? is on at the Courthouse Hotel, corner of Errol and Queensberry Street, North Melbourne. It runs from September the 16th until the 25th, but not on Mondays. Start time is 8:30pm and 7:30pm on Sunday. Tickets cost $22, $18 concession, and $15 on Tuesdays and the Birthday Show. They’re available from the Melbourne Fringe website and at the door.