The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is a spectacle so large and diverse, your options for live performance can be almost paralysing. Will you bare witness to the mind-bending speed of local improv geniuses Tom Walker and Bridie Connell in Motherfather, observe the finely tuned absurdity of kiwi madman Guy Montgomery in Let’s All Get In A Room Together, or satisfy your political soul with Josie Long’s Something Better? Will you decide to attend none of these shows and mention them offhandedly in reviews without enough detail to get called out publicly? Truly, all avenues are open to you.
"The evening was a mixed bag but not without its charm"
Tim Batt somehow landed on the line up at Festival Club at Max Watts
It is easy then, to miss acts like Tim Batt. Straight, white, 20-something males performing at a comedy festival feel as ubiquitous and disposable as footy fans at Toyota Hilux run out sale. But in the spirit of ANZAC support, I decided to see this kiwi battler, himself flying over from New Zealand for the 3rd time to the MICF, to perform in the slightly-out-of-the-way neighbourhood of Collingwood at Caz Reitop’s Dirty Secrets Bar. The evening was a mixed bag but not without its charm.
Tim begins his show in earnest with an attempt at fast-paced deconstruction of the form in a manner that lands somewhat better than a high school student turning in a last minute speech about performing a speech, but falls short of its lofty promise of post-modern performance art. From this high speed introduction, Batt changes gears to endear himself to the crowd with a real affability and warmth that allows him to build up enough goodwill for punters to ride out the lulls in the show. His pacing, ability to read a room and some parts of the show do reveal the years of stand up Batt has quietly been accruing in his native New Zealand, however consistency of the material is somewhat patchy.
Batt has a propensity in this year’s hour, Ladies and Gentlemen to jump constantly from high to low-brow, allowing for the cheap laughs to punctuate through a few salient articulations of political and social assessment. You’ll hear Batt talk about defecation betwixt comments on racism and the global Trumpening of politics and society. These gags are often encased inside of personal vignettes, in which, Batt’s powers of live performance really shine. On the evening this reviewer attended, the hour itself didn’t unexpectedly fly, nor did it drag but did conclude with a lack of finality or punch. Fans of Doug Stanhope and Bill Hicks will catch glimpses of Batt’s comedy inspiration.
Overall, for the low asking price of $12, Tim Batt delivers a solid night of comedy, political musings and surface-level personal analysis. 3.5/5 Ladies and Gentlemen is on now until Sunday 9th April, no shows Mondays or Tuesdays. Tickets from Eventbrite. His podcast project has a live episode in Melbourne on April 9. Tickets from Eventbrite.