Claire Hooper

Claire Hooper

Claire Hooper: School Camp

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review by Steve Bennett

Theming a show around such a universal Australian experience as the school camp offers Claire Hooper the chance to wallow in lots of cute ‘remember this…’ nostalgia from her formative years.

It’s a chance she grasps often, yet she has much greater ambitions for School Camp, tackling bigger coming-of-age issues such as the first period and sexual awakenings that are uneasy – or much worse. All this while accepting that human memory is inherently unreliable, as proved by her own gauche 1986 diary, which shows she wasn’t quite the nice person she believed herself to be.

Her remembrance of things past seems to have been sparked by the birth of her daughter a year ago, as she starts to worry what future secrets mini-Hooper might hold from her, or what future experiences she, as a mother, might need to explain.

So alongside recollections of climbing poles, spooky ghost stories or eating dehydrated mashed potato straight from the packet, there are questions of sex that aren’t always quite so easy to cover in the context of a comedy show – although she gets sniggers from a young adult book that awkwardly tried to address the first flushes of carnality, as well as other cheeky experiences.

Hooper’s got a well-developed sense of timing and of emphasis, giving an edge to her conversational delivery that gets the best out of her material. Shared memories resonate, and we chuckle as we cringe through her personal humiliations from the past and, courtesy of her obstetrician, the present. She has a sharp way with words, too, with more than a couple of wonderfully memorable turns of phrase.

The more serious strands give the show a weight, albeit at the cost of some unexpected shifts in tone, and there are enough structural maguffins – callbacks especially – that make the surprisingly wide-ranging narrative all the more satisfying. Hooper’s set herself quite the challenge in the scope and content of this show, and while it sometimes falls short of those lofty goals, there are some excellent stand-up routines on the route.

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Published: 5 Apr 2015

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Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2006

Oh Cut Throat Comedy


Melbourne 2007

Claire Hooper: Show Girl


Melbourne 2008

Claire Hooper: Storybook


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