It’s a few days in to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and audiences – and more importantly comics -are getting their sea legs. Routines are settling into a rhythm, the venues are all helpfully highlighted on Google Maps, and rushing into the city to see a show after work is the thing of this month.
This is my first show of the season and I’m still feeling my way, arriving just in time for Eddo to come on stage. She starts with a time honoured process: suss out the audience front rows and get a few easy laughs, warming up the crowd, seeing if we’ll be onboard tonight or not. We are.
Then it’s into the meat after nearly all the latecomers have been ushered in and mildly singled out.
Anne Edmond’s style is a funny mix.
On one hand she’s a storyteller. She has a fine eye for details and the very funny quirks that make up most of what passes for personality in others around her. Several of her funniest pieces come from incidental items that she’s noticed along the way: the downtrodden husband putting a hot sausage roll in the family backpack, the impossibly polite and together family congratulating themselves after a big walk They’re great little vignettes, told with warmth.
What saves Eddo from being an imitator of an old comedy style is the empathy she exudes for her characters.
On the other hand there’s an older, almost ’80s thing going on. It’s very broadly Aussie, blokey traditional stand-up style involving a lot of shouting and swearing for effect. It’s the sort of humour in which a generation of mostly male comedians specialised before more self-aware comedy made inroads.
What saves Eddo from being an imitator of an old comedy style is the empathy she exudes for her characters, even if she is giving them a shellacking. And she has an uncanny ability to evoke a character’s emotions physically: a turn of the head, an exclamation, a change in the tone and timbre of her voice all work well to create a memorable person, whose archetype we know.
That’s what really lifts her show above the ordinary. In another comic’s hands, much of her show would fall flat; sometimes it travels a very fine line between satirising un-PC behaviour, and expressing it. We know which side of the line she is on, that’s part of her bringing us along with her, but you could potentially see it very differently, as much of that knowing is subtle, dependent on asides or intonation.
In the end, Eddo is funny and enjoyable. She riffs on the perennial themes of how effed up her family is, and how she can’t find a stable relationship, in a way that brings us closer to her, rather than pushes us away. Well worth seeing.
Anne Edmonds No Offence, None Taken is at the Victoria Hotel Banquet Room until April 23