Storytellers' Club: Twighight Tales at Trades

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

As comedy moves ever more into the realms of storytelling, it was inevitable that a handful of club nights would emerge to showcase them. The format is even better suited to festivals, offering a low-key alternative to rambunctious late-night cabarets and having a wealth of talent to draw upon.

Sarah Bennetto started her Storytellers’ Club in London and Edinburgh before bringing it to Melbourne, where she’s originally from, for this limited run of Saturday nights, each having a different line-up.

Another advantage of this sort of ‘selection box’ night is that only an elite band of comics can sustain stories over an hour, but a ten to 15-minute slot is a lot more achievable. An example is young local comic Tommy Dasallo, whose entertaining story of a family party gone wrong was perfect for tonight, even though the rest of his own show struggled to match this high spot.

As host, Bennetto sets a friendly, cosy mood, ensuring everyone feels part of this relaxed club, with a couple of brief, self-deprecating stories of her own. Although as producer she might need to get a little less friendly – seven acts and an audience story slot, plus her own tales, makes for one very long interval-free endurance test, straddling midnight. By her own admission, she needs to say ‘no’ to more of the comics who want to take part – or at the very least run the show more than once a week so she can accommodate them all.

There is also a danger that shows with a nebulous theme like storytelling could bring out the most self-indulgent in comedians, letting them sprew forth, free from the need to hit punchlines. Local act Vaya Pashos fell into that trap, just talking at length about kissing a workmate who was engaged to someone else as if the audience were a friend she could unburden herself onto, rather than an group who wanted entertainment.

But, that was a rare transgression from tonight’s roster, most of whom rose to the occasion to try something new… while still getting the laughs. James Dowdeswell, for example, used the opportunity to talk about the filming of his very brief role as Count Fuckula in Extras, which he did with skill, charm and wit. It may have been a story, but it was also a deft stand-up routine.

The storytelling brief is broad – even talented silent act The Boy With Tape On His Face managed to convey a wordless tale – with the participants, and audience, united only by a love of a good yarn in its widest sense. But it’s certainly enough for the night to engender a warm feeling of belonging, which was surely the main aim.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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