Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The Melbourne International Controversy Festival

Melbourne's annual Comedy Festival gets to be a ever-tamer event, year after year. Or maybe it's just that I'm getting old. Bitterness and comedy used to co-exist perfectly in my life. Now that comedy - as it seems, for now - has left the building, will I be able to survive on a diet of pure, raw bitterness? We'll see.

Anyway, when you look at this year's Ye Olde, semi-compulsory de-Grooting of the Comedy Festival - that is, the act whose straw-clutching attempt at publicity is through Controversy - you get this pathetic effort, from one Sue Ingleton. A woman in comedy? In 2004, a blunt knife has more angle. A grandmother in comedy, then? More angle, yes, but equally one inclined to scare off the punters (who, being almost entirely GenX, were the last generation to have Really Scary Grandfolk - boomers' parents don't count of course, because the grandfolk of today's teens were tamed and cowered by their offspring during the 1970s). A comedian grandmother, big in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, but in more recent decades having kept a low profile in Byron Bay and Malaysia? Now that's more like it - it sounds like a pitch-perfect parody of a washed-up baby boomer. Trouble is, though, Sue Ingleton is real.

Which means that she just can't help herself from being a walking parody, particularly when off-stage. Last week she was slagging off against the mediocrity of the Playbox (a heavily-subsidised theatre company) audience. Which would all be fine and fair criticism, Sue - you are hardly the first to observe that subsidised theatre often leads to Safe Theatre - if you hadn't just spent years on the taxpayer teat yourself, courtesy of an Asialink residency in Malaysia.

This week, Ingleton's controversy grab is to do with TV program "The Glasshouse":

I watched "The Glasshouse" (ABC) the other night because Jean Kittson was on, and she sat there with her jaw open being incredibly polite in the face of abysmal television. The presenters read off the autocue, which I think is abysmal. Dave Hughes is a very funny boy, but I don't have any character to put to Wil (Anderson). The script he was reading off the autocue all night was all about penises and their size.

You're superb, Sue, at playing the sterotypical bitching baby boomer. A show is condemned because its presenters (or at least one of them) use the autocue - who would have thought? Oh, and the guy tells dick jokes, too. How very male of him. (Hint: being male might be the elusive "character" thing about Wil that you've been so far unable to pin down, Sue).

Well, at least Wil Anderson tells jokes, Sue. It's a lot better than being one, without realising it.

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