Justin Hamilton’s festival show Hoot will strike you like a well-honed piece of music. Even though he’s been re-composing the show from festival to festival – the Melbourne International Comedy Festival version is, at last count, Hoot 3.0 – you wouldn’t actually know this unless he told you. The show doesn’t just hum with energy, it sings. With just three Saturdays’ worth of shows left, I encourage music nerd and comedy nerds to catch this show sooner rather than later.
This version of Hoot builds from the show’s original premise (paraphrase: ‘why men of a certain age […] move from Melbourne to Sydney’) towards a moving eulogy of David Bowie, from the perspective of a legitimate Bowie super fan. Whether ruminating on his “potential” as a comedian, providing flash-reviews of Bowie albums or sharing his thrilling adventures with the well known [REDACTED], Hamilton turns his signature hyper-alert comedic style to questions about creativity, why we make what we make, and what we make of ourselves when we do.
After two decades in the business, Hamilton is someone you can trust with these sorts of questions. His command of spoken rhythm and cadence is simply off the charts. His movements are always sharp, and always plotted to the rhythms of the joke at hand, helping sell the story. His best jokes achieve a sort of manic momentum, with ideas interrupting, voices intersecting, premises escalating and compounding until the whole thing collapses in on itself in hilarious ways. But though manic, his jokes never feel forced or overbearing – even when fielding well-worn topics like social media dependence and reality TV, Hamilton’s attention to both detail and audience provides the net effect of a new take, which is well worth seeing for yourself.
If you’re looking for a show to help keep you curious about the world, as I very often am, then I encourage you to catch Hoot, on every Saturday until the end of the festival. Alternately, you could try for tickets to The Shelf on Monday nights, hosted by Hamilton and Adam Richards, though be quick as this is likely to sell out. If you’re otherwise engaged, then at least check out Can You Take this Photo Please?, a podcast that could help you find your new favourite comedians at this year’s MICF.
Hoot is on at the Melbourne Town Hall every Saturday at 6pm until the 16th of April. Tickets cost $32 and are available online and at the MICF box office.