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Courteney Hocking's Foolish Ideas and Crackpot Inventions Show

Courteney Hocking's Foolish Ideas and Crackpot Inventions Show

Show type: Melbourne 2006

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Original Review:

If necessity is the mother of invention, you have to wonder just what need Joe Armstrong was trying to fill when he came up with the automatic arse-kicking machine.

This is one of the many weird and wonderful contraptions Courteney Hocking has unearthed in this brisk and interesting trawl through the patent office archives.

So we see all manner of Heath Robinson-style apparatus, elaborately drawn and annotated and that somehow matched the criteria needed to be recognised as a genuine invention. Essentially the rule is that it must constitute a new idea although, as Hocking points out, not necessarily a good one.

The internet has made researching such topics comparatively easy, providing a good crop of oddballs as grist for her comedy mill. She also exposes some literally shocking facts about invention king Thomas Edison, some of which I was aware of, but others which came as a genuine revelation.

Hocking’s a chatty, likeable performer – and with core material as fascinating as this, you’re not likely to be bored by her enthusiastic show and tell.

Yet there’s also a gaping hole at the heart of this show. The truth is, there’s not enough reason to be doing this, other than a straightforward top ten rundown of daft ideas. Her investigations need some reason or aim, something that can provide a narrative story to glue together what is otherwise a collection of essentially useless trivia.

There’s some stab at this; her research was apparently sparked by a chance encounter with a fanciable boy who might work in technology, but it’s not what drives the show forward, and as such it feels too bitty and unrewarding. It’s a shame, because director Lawrence Leung is normally so adept at providing such structure to his own acclaimed festival shows.

As it is, this show would have pride of place in an ‘interesting’ festival, but the dominance of information over jokes, as well as its narrative failing, mean it’s lacking as a comedy show – no matter how appealing Hocking is as a performer.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
May 2006

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