Three Strikes (Source: The Blue Room)

“Three Strikes could only happen in LA”, Feb 2012

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A review I wrote for Perth Now‘s coverage of Fringe World, as part of the Buzzcuts Perth program. Published in February 2012 on PerthNow.com.au.

Has Jay Leno ever handed you a steak sandwich? Well, it happened to Brian Finkelstein.

Three Strikes is the true story of ridiculous events from Brian’s life, focusing around the American Writers’ Strike of 2007. At the time of his third strike, Brian was a comedy writer for The Ellen DeGeneres Show in Los Angeles. He found himself walking in circles holding a picket sign for reasons he barely understood.

Three Strikes (Source: The Blue Room)

Brian’s style of delivering his story is at once coarse and endearing. You can’t help liking the guy. You might feel that maybe you shouldn’t like this guy, since he starts off the show by telling the audience to shove their mobile phones where the sun don’t shine. In the beginning, he paints himself as an apathetic slacker with no beliefs or values. However, as the story progresses, Brian teases out more of his past, and reveals key events that brought him to that writers’ picket line in LA. His growing disillusionment with the world has a universal ring to it.

It is a fascinating story, and not just because he met Jay Leno. Brian compares the American Writers’ Strike of 2007 to the Haymarket Massacre of 1886 (an anarchist violent protest over working hours), and he does so with piercingly funny wit.

This one-man show boasts a cleverly written script (by Brian himself), hilarious characterisations, and powerful use of the stage space. With a running time of 50 minutes, the story never overstays its welcome, and it is a brilliant addition to any night out.

The show takes place in the PICA performance space, which is perfectly located in the beautifully decorated cultural centre. Afterwards, you can wander up to the Urban Orchard to discuss Brian’s story over a beer.

Three Strikes finishes this Saturday, so be sure to book your tickets before this master of storytelling jets back to LA. This might be your last chance to see him perform – who knows when he’ll go on strike again?

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“Barry Morgan shows off his organ”, Feb 2012

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A review I wrote for Buzzcuts and Perth Now of the Fringe World show, Barry Morgan’s World of Organs. After the show, I had the pleasure of meeting Barry himself. Such a grin!

Barry Morgan and I

You might know Barry Morgan, Adelaide’s celebrity organ salesman, from his appearances on the music quiz show Spicks and Specks.

Barry’s trademark toothy grin and his prodigious skill on the keyboard were all he needed to win over television audiences. So, when it was announced that Barry Morgan would be coming to Fringe World, I was curious to see how he would flesh out his camp keyboard act into a one-hour show.

Barry Morgan’s World of Organs is a mildly strange experience from the moment you walk into the Perth Town Hall. Underneath the grand proscenium arch sits a 1981 Hammond Aurora Classic with matching Leslie speakers, looking very small indeed in contrast with the pomp of the venue. A badly recorded voice comes over the speakers, announcing the star of the show. Then out walks Mr Barry Morgan himself, all smiles and big hair.

The organ salesman immediately launches into his hilariously camp patter, announcing “this organ must be sold tonight!” The rest of the show is an extended sales pitch, with Barry avidly trying to convince audience members of the wonders of the electric organ.

Barry works the crowd with delightful ease, throwing out organ innuendos that never seem to get old. On this night, the audience seemed at first uncertain, but quickly got into the spirit of things with sing-alongs and shout-outs.

Although Barry’s talent on the organ is the central spectacle, the show has a great audio-visual element. A screen hangs over the stage onto which Barry projects photos from his childhood and footage from the stage.

Aside from a very strange moment when Barry abruptly disappears from the stage to “change into something more comfortable” and then returns wearing an almost-identical outfit, the show runs along smoothly.

Happily, this is a Fringe show that is suitable for all audiences. It’s a fun, light-hearted hour of comedy that will be especially pleasing for music-lovers.

The winner of Bogan Bingo and his be-mulleted mates

Perth Now entertainment review: “Flannel fun at Bogan Bingo”, Feb 2012

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A review I wrote for Buzzcuts and Perth Now, of the Fringe World show Bogan Bingo.

Bogan Bingo is, quite simply, a bingo night run by bogans.

The winner of Bogan Bingo and his be-mulleted mates

If you’ve ever thought that bingo nights don’t include enough AC/DC and swearing, then you might want to get down to Rosie O’Grady’s during Fringe. Just make sure to check your political correctness at the door, because these bogans aim to offend.

The flannel-clad comedians running this night had the audience cringing at off-colour jokes about pedophilia, bestiality, and Steve Irwin’s death. (‘That’s low,’ groaned one audience member.) However, Bogan Bingo’s humour is so self-conscious that they just get away with it. Just.

The drawing of each bingo number is punctuated by a rock ‘n’ roll hit from the ’80s. There’s sing-alongs, mullet wigs, and an Air Guitar Championship. The crowd can get a bit lively – this reviewer was nearly knocked over by a woman charging at the stage to win an inflatable guitar.

The night only runs for one round of bingo, which can be a relief for the audience, as the host’s ball-related innuendos get old fast. The show’s energy levels stay up during their short running time, except for an awkward three minutes where they try to make everyone stand up and sing Khe Sanh. The whole song. All of it.

Still, this is a fun night out. If you’ve got a bunch of friends who aren’t easily offended, then this might be the bingo night for you.

I’ll be on Radio Fremantle 107.9fm from 10.30am this morning, reading some of my poetry and having a bit of a chat. Tune in if you’re in the area!

In other news, the Buzzcuts Perth program has been going well! The crack team of writers I’m coordinating have been writing up some fantastic reviews of Fringe World. You can read them on the Buzzcuts blog, or on PerthNow.com.au

Speaking of Fringe World, if you’re in Perth you should definitely be checking out some Fringe shows! There’s 150 shows on offer, with heaps of variety. I especially recommend the story showcase Barefaced Stories at the Blue Room. I might be a bit biased because I’m one of their storytellers (I did the Barefaced opening night on Tues) but seriously it’s a brilliant show! And it’s different every show, so you can go to more than one.

So much to do! Huzzah!

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With the support of Express Media, Fringe World, and the Sunday Times, I am very pleased to introduce BUZZCUTS PERTH!

Buzzcuts is a program that trains young writers and broadcasters in critical arts reviewing. After running successfully in Melbourne for 15 years, this year the program is expanding to include Perth, with the support of Express Media, Fringe World, and the Sunday Times.

Buzzcuts Perth gives successful applicants the chance to see several Fringe World shows for free, write reviews and see them published on the Perth Now website. Participants will also be trained in writing critical arts reviews at a free orientation session.

The program is open to writers aged 18-25 who live in the Perth area and are interested in developing their skills as entertainment/arts writers.

Participants are expected to attend at least two shows during Perth’s Fringe World festival (26 January – 19 February) and to produce two accompanying reviews. In addition, participants are required to attend the compulsory orientation to be held in mid-January (date to be confirmed).

To apply, please submit the following:

  1. Your contact information (name, street address, email address, phone number, and date of birth)
  2. A cover letter outlining why you would like to be involved and any experience you have relevant to the area (experience in arts reviewing is preferable but not essential)

Send applications to:

Kaitlyn Plyley

kaitlynplyley@gmail.com

Applications close: 5pm, Sunday 14th of January 2012.

Successful applicants will be contacted via email.

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