Ben Russell wants his new show to be art. So he tells the audience at the start of Fylleangst, the latest Melbourne International Comedy Festival show from the award-winning podcaster, improviser, writer and comedian. And, to the extend that comedy is art, he succeeds.
Co-written by Maggie Looke, this is Russell’s loosest show yet. It’s described as ‘The untold story of Australia’s biggest comedy disaster or something different’, which feels weirdly accurate. This isn’t a comedy disaster, it’s something different, but is it is an absolutely delightful mess. There’s no connecting theme, or overarching story. Fylleangst is a series of unrelated sketches and a surprising amount of impersonations. There’s also the character bits that Russell is so renowned for – quickly drawn and hilarious. It’s shambolic, yet endearing. There’s some planned strawberry milk spills, and some unplanned technical issues, and both result in big laughs. Russell might not seem to know where exactly he’s taking his audience with Fylleangst, but every member of the crowd is happy to be along for the ride.
It might not make you reconsider your life choices, teach you something new about the human psyche, or even share a deep personal truth, but it will make you laugh. And hey, who says art has to do any of that shit anyway?
Russell also has a podcast with Greg Larsen and Anne Edmonds, so if you want to get a free taster of what you’re in for in Fylleangst before you buy tickets (which you absolutely should), have a listen to The Grub.
Fylleangst is on 9:45pm at Campari House until 21 April as part of the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tickets are available from the MICF website.