They’re playing Live’s Throwing Copper when I walk in, and I’m primed. “It’s easier not to be wise,” the song goes, launching into Triple-M’s favorite anthem to psychopathy: “You can measure these things by your brains”. It’s basically the soundtrack to my own personal Townsville, and I associate it with palm trees, demountable housing and late-night hooning (hoonery? hoonage?) at or by the beach. It’s also the perfect complement for the show we’re about to see: a hybrid of Melbournian sketch comedy and a Christensen-caliber Reclaim Australia rally, replete with shitty powerpoints and shittier sentiments.
Or more accurately, we’re about to watch a demented love triangle play out between three kind of shitty, but really kind of wounded individuals, named Les (Anne Edmonds), Steve (Greg Larsen) and Gary (Damien Power). To really understand this drama, you can go check out the True Australian Patriots page on Facebook. It’s a note-perfect pocket of bogan drama, and it’s carried by three solid sketch performers – part of the group Fancy Boy, who you may have seen already on ABC1’s Fresh Blood series. Checkpoint Media has some terrifyingly good sketches up online.
I’m primed because I’ve seen these folks mine comedy gold from something Max Chalmers has called “Comic And Terrifying In Equal Measure” – anti-Islamic and anti-immigration groups like Reclaim, whose attitudes on city zoning and construction don’t exactly interest me. But the True Australian Patriots picks up on the funniest thing about it all – the spectacle of an utterly racist ‘you flew here we grew here’ Aussie on social media – and run hard with it.
The show delivers on the incipient interstate drama of their FB sketches – Les and Gary used to date but now Gary lives on the Gold Coast with Tanya, Steve loves Les but that’s just not on… – in some pretty satisfying ways, which veer towards the strangeness of the best Fancy Boy sketches. Against it, the TAP’s mission to “crush islam and sink piss” collapses, myopically. And it’s all very funny.
In between, there are informative and culturally-sensitive lectures about Halal Food and the Australian Left, but it’s the sheer and shambolic commitment of the performers onstage that makes this show worth seeing. By the end of it, the show’s deconstructed entirely, to some more “classic Aussie rock” no less, and the crowd of Festival lefties left satisfied with their ticket purchase. As the other song goes, “fear is not the end of this” – the True Australian Patriots are an odd and sad bunch, and they help provide a timely and hilarious take on some pretty serious stuff.
True Australian Patriots Live is on at the Melbourne Town Hall every Friday and Saturday until the end of the Festival. Alternately, you can catch Anne Edmonds and Damien Power in their live shows, from now until the 9th of April, or you can go to go to Greg Larsen’s comedy room, Crab Lab, any Wednesday you like.