Ali McGregor's Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2009
Let Ali McGregor, of Opera Burlesque, La Clique and Spicks and Specks, take you into a world of vaudeville skits and fancy tricks. It's late, the bar is open and the scene is set for the festival's finest comedians, burlesque dancers, sideshow acts, musicians and acrobats to collide. Variety at its best.
Hosted by Ali and assisted by her butler Saxon McAlistair (sideshow comedian Asher Treleaven), the night is littered with her unique interpretations of favourite pop classics
Ali McGregor’s variety show is pitched as an evening of elegant decadence, as personified by the sultry top-hat-wearing chanteuse herself. But it’s actually about the clash between that chic sophistication and the guest stand-up oiks who insist on soiling the atmosphere with their presence.
Most of that fine comedy tension comes between McGregor, who’s most at home reclining stylishly on her chaise longue, and her ‘butler’ Saxon McAllistair, aka comedian Asher Treleaven, who’s most at home knocking back booze before doing a seedy song-and-dance routine to Tina Turner’s Private Dancer.
McGregor tries to maintain the class, turning Britney Spears’s Oops I Did It Again into as delicious torch song, or performing a unique version of AC/DC’s All Night Long on her Omnichord. But when your headline stand-up is the fiercely offensive Jim Jeffries talking about getting erections on stage, you know the battle is lost.
McGregor’s other comedy guests tonight were the fagotronically entertaining Kent Valentine, who started slowly but nailed it with a fabulous tale about flyering at last year’s festival, and the delightfully odd Felicity Ward, with a representatively manic extract from her superb show.
Closing the night was Gypsy Wood, who defied the conventions of burlesque by (a) keeping her kit on, and (b) demonstrating a keen verbal wit, as she delivered a gushingly meaningless speech in the guise of a clueless teen beauty queen. Her ‘special talent’ showstopper took a while to get going – rather milking the comedy value of uncoordinated interpretive dance – but the hideous payoff was as unexpected as it was disgusting.
The evening’s battle was clear victory for the tasteless; but the war’s not over yet. McGregor’s ill-fated campaign to bring refined erudition to the late-night crowd will continue unabated.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melbourne, April 2009