Comedy, Reviews, Stage

Demi Lardner: I Love Skeleton review (Melbourne Comedy Festival)

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Self-described “horrid little troll” (it’s on her Twitter account), Demi Lardner awaits as we descend into the Victoria Hotel’s Acacia Room. (Which genius bureaucrat decreed that we had to queue outside the hotel, then circle past the Acacia room’s internal entrance only to re-emerge where we queued and troop down narrow fire escape stairs to the foyer as a comedy warm-up?) Lardner stands in the back corner, her cardboard box encased head glowing as we are seated, nervously twitching and girding herself for the battle ahead.

The titular Skeleton stands proudly on stage, but as far as I can tell it plays no part in proceedings, other than as an eerie backdrop to the show. This show is packed. I also notice that I’m if not the oldest, then I’m one of the oldest three punters in the room.

Lardner’s comedy is loud and at times, shouty. She seems to act that way as a response to generations of shouty, annoying male comics but it’s undermined by her elfin size and cutesy voice. It’s a pisstake.

She bears some resemblance to the likes of Aunty Donna, bouncing frenetically about the small roomfrom the stage, along along the walls and back on stage. Her Energizer Bunny schtick is done to a tee.

The material suits this. It’s bitesize chunks of lunacy interspersed with longer set pieces. Lots of it is sheer idiocy but is massively funny. The audience laugh the instant Lardner crawls across people screaming Bunnings ads and the laughter doesn’t stop for the hour-long show.

There are some technical nightmares going on but Lardner handles the interruptions with such aplomb that it was hard to know if these were part of the show. Her reaction to a howl of feedback was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen as she bolted like a frightened rabbit into her hole at the back of the stage.

Her Dinner with Dad Night routine was similarly funny and resonated with me because that’s exactly what I do with my daughters at a once a week dinner – complain about stuff. The irony was that the rest of the audience were laughing from the kids’ perspective which only sweetened the laughs for me.

Lardner’s compression of material, speed of change, stripping out of setups and padding (except for one segment called “padding out the show”), mark this as the comedy of the YouTube/vines/meme generation. Just cut to the lines, do the face, push on to the next line. It must be hard work writing the equivalent of two shows worth of gags for a single hour. Think of the sheer craziness of a Monty Python show compressed into a high speed 15 minutes and you get an idea of her show.

This is one of the best shows of the Festival so far.

Demi Lardner: I Love Skeleton is at the Victoria Hotel until April 22

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