Ben Russell and Xavier Michelides have worked together before. Both comedians have been working, solo and together, in comedy for several years, and have honed their specific brands of improvisation and absurd-ish sketch at comedy festivals, on podcasts and in each other’s living rooms. The current result of all that talent and hard work is Restaurant Fuckheads.
Two estranged brothers have inherited a restaurant from their late father. They must run the restaurant for one year and turn a profit to receive the family gold. There’s only one problem, they’re both f*ckheads!
So, that’s the plot of Restaurant Fuckheads. It’s pretty self-explanatory, and sort of gives you an idea of the kind of comedy in the show. Sort of. Russell and Michelides are happiest (and funniest) when embodying larger-than-life figures, characters whose ridiculousness seems to extend out from them in every direction. The improvised beats blend into the scripted sketch near-seamlessly, only obvious when Russell or Michelides choose to draw attention to it for added effect.
Russell has a continued intensity that Michelides seems to orbit like a wobbly planet, and their complementary styles make for an onstage relationship of natural escalation, resulting in jokes that leave the audience almost breathless with laughter. The elasticity of Russell’s face allows for flashes of character and physical comedy that punctuate rather than interrupt the jokes. Michelides, meanwhile, is a positively boisterous stage presence. His melodramatic movements help him flail across the stage, causing roars of laughter every time.
Despite a couple of less than traditional narrative devices, Restaurant Fuckheads is hardly inaccessible to those just looking for a good laugh. This is top shelf sketch, though the late hour and the infrequent shows mean that there are very few in the crowd who don’t know exactly the kind of thing they’re in for and who aren’t absolutely ecstatic to receive it. See it while you can.
Restaurant Fuckheads is on at the European Bier Cafe at 10:45pm on Mondays & Thursdays, and 9:45pm on Sundays until 22 April as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tickets are available from the MICF website.