Stand-up comedy can be a tough gig – especially when you’re in an intimate venue with a small audience. There are comedians out there who would struggle to energise a crowd, or who would come across as trying too hard and generally being awkward. This can lead to a situation which is hard on the audience, rather than enjoyable.
Not the case with Murphy McLachlan and Blake Freeman.
The routine was interesting. Instead of one comedian throughout the entire show, we got two different approaches and styles (that were still complimentary) – in essence, two shows in one. Whilst there was a little interaction between the comedians, the split bill worked well, although it would have been nice to potentially have more duo acts (maybe a longer “conclusion” to match the “introduction”?). Despite this, the performances themselves were very engaging.
Also, if the term “puddle sandwich” appears in regular conversation, I will know who to thank. If you want to find out why this has been referenced, then you shall have to see the show.
Freeman and McLachlan have interesting stage dynamics. Perhaps because of the age differences, or maybe just their temperament, the two had very different stage presences. McLachlan (the older one) had a slightly more bombastic approach, often relying on strange circumstances and silly comparisons for humour, to great effect. In contrast, Freeman used a combination of absurd situations and an almost dry and sarcastic approach to comedy. The two styles complemented each other very well, making for a show that kept the audience very much alert and fully engaged with the show. This is probably best indicated the fact there was an older gentleman who couldn’t stop giggling throughout the show.
Even with a small crowd (it was a quiet night generally in Melbourne), the stand ups managed to slip into their routines comfortably. So comfortably in fact that it did become difficult to differentiate between when they were performing and when they were just being themselves – which is a positive thing. The various jokes were well planned, but, considering the personalities of the performers it seemed as though there was more of a conversation rather than a show. The above mentioned giggling gentleman helped with this with occasional comments, which the comedians played off very well.
On a negative note, one thing that could have been explored could have been a bit more structure. Whilst the two acts often complimented each other (bemoaning the state of Adelaide’s night life, or comparing the rather odd behaviours of their respective fathers), it did feel a little disjointed at times. Perhaps construct a vague link throughout both sets could be an option (even a recurring gag to hold the show together – even a theme like “parents” or “travel experiences”).
They were also let down a little by some technology – the phone next to the microphone gag could have been a little more efficiently prepared (potentially with a shorter sound clip). Furthermore, there was a little initial confusion as to whether to use the microphone or not – something which can be prepared beforehand (although this can be difficult when the show before has run overtime).
These are, though, minor issues. The show was an enjoyable way to spend an evening. If you find yourself searching for fun and enjoyable comedy during this Melbourne International Comedy Festival, look for Four Last Names. It is a guaranteed night of laughter.
Blake Freeman & Murphy McLachlan Have Four Last Names is on at Belleville at 9:45pm from now until the 2nd of April. Tickets cost between $10 and $15 dollars, and are available at the door or online.