The Comedy Zone review (Melbourne Comedy Festival)

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The Comedy Zone is an omnibus show of four stand ups and a young MC billed as “comedy’s newest heroes”. It’s good value. You get to see a few minutes of five different acts, none of whom you’ve likely heard of, in one swift hit.

Rowan Thambar is the MC tonight. He’s a little less comfortable with being an MC than with his usual material which is pretty good. His singing and playing is really good too – and better than many musical comedians. He’s able to mix themes of growing up Sri Lankan in white bread Australia, weirdly silly musical memes, and bantering with the audience with ease. I’d like to see more of his work, especially the musical side of his act.

Zack Dyer, last year’s RAW Comedy Award winner, is less sure of himself tonight. He’s struggling a little to connect tonight which is a shame as there are flashes of brilliance in his laconic style.

Bonnie Tangey, the runner-up in last year’s RAW Award, is not the runner-up tonight. She’s in cracking good form. Her deadpan delivery of obscenities belies her straight demeanour. Tangey uses a few silly props that provide staging posts in a night of straightforward stand up. Strongly recommend.

Melburnian Blake Freeman is next up and he’s disarmingly honest. At 22, he’s not quite sure of himself as date material and plays some great highlights from his personal life. Self deprecating and open, he’s in many ways representative of this new generation of young men. They have grown up attuned to the sort of stuff previous generations of men were told to batten down – emotions, empathy and all that touchy feely stuff. He’s no hippy, just a switched on bloke that has been taught to care. It shines through in his comedy.

Jack Gramenz is last act and he’s a fitting finale. His comedy is more complex than most, something that comes as a surprise as he bangs on about voting for the Broncos in a way that we all feel we’ve heard some bogan do. You can see that here is someone on the trajectory to being the next Micallef, incisive and direct, taking few prisoners in his laughter attack.

I’d happily see any of this crew again next year, and I’ll probably seek out Tangey, Freeman and Gramenz when the time comes. Good picking Comedy Festival gnomes!

The Comedy Zone is at Trades Hall on every night except Wednesdays until April 22

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