Having a series of comedians performing in a short timeframe is a good way for comedians to both pool resources, and for the audience to get a variety in their show. New Order as a show is an example where this is done well, and timed perfectly to allow for a flow between each set, whilst generating laughter for the audience.
The show itself is good stand-up comedy – enough relatable material for the audience (something that can be difficult to do well when foreigners come to Australia), with enough self-lampooning to make sure any comments about Australia or audience members weren’t too personal. All the comedians were able to keep the audience laughing through the whole show, and the only break in the flow came from tech problems when the microphone died at the start of the third comedian (who made an excellent recovery in spite of this setback).
One of the main advantages when there are four comedians in a single show – aside from the fact the comedians don’t need to rehearse as much material – is that you get a bit of variety in the show. It is almost a four-in-one deal. Four mini comedy shows, with enough variety to keep it interesting and engaging the whole time.
There are of course problems when different comedians line up in a single show. Sometimes it can be difficult to discern a common theme across their shows, especially if it is not explicit. This can mean that it can be harder for the audience to really get into the swing of each comedian, especially if there is a big jump in styles. Thankfully, there were not too many variations in style, and each change flowed well from one to the next without too much “overshadowing”.
That being said, the theme of “outsider” (as in, break from London-educated English middle-class male) was probably a connection here) – a Northern Englishman, a woman with cerebral palsy, a bisexual Irish woman, and a gay Pakistani-Britisher are certainly not the norm when it comes to comedy (at least within the culturally accepted view of things).
In conclusion, a fun and interesting show, with talented comedians that all bring something different and engaging to the performance. Despite being a little disparate, the laughs are all genuine, and, due to the roughly equal skill of the comedians, the show flows quite well. If you want to see British comedy that is a little bit different, check this show out.
New Order is on through until 21 April at Melbourne Town Hall. For more information and to get tickets ($27-34), head to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival website.