Museum Of Melbourne Comedy Tour
Show type: Melbourne 2008
Join Ben McKenzie (the 'Man in the Lab Coat') and friends for science, history and laughter! Guided by the cream of Melbourne's geeky comedians, you'll wander the spooky silent halls of Melbourne Museum after closing time. There you'll meet such amazing inmates as CSIRAC, a room-sized computer which couldn't beat your mobile phone at chess, and Amargasaurus, the dinosaur with a mohawk who predated punk by 120 million years.
Caution: you may learn something on this tour.
Geeks are taking over stand-up, so what better venue for a comedy show than the smart Museum of Melbourne, with its scientific exhibits providing a jumping-off point for plenty of smug clever-buggery?
This is a guided tour with a difference, the three hosts using the displays as prompts for their own musings, unconcerned with any educational intent. But as anyone who’s ever seen QI knows, the world of research can provide a very rich source of comedy.
There’s not a fixed line-up of comedians, but the trio taking us round tonight provided a nicely contrasting mix. Firstly, project leader Ben Mckenzie – who has the unkempt mutton-chop sideburns of a proper fanatical academic - chose the palaeontology section in which to enthuse about his childhood love of dinosaurs and bemoan the errors Steven Spielberg made in Jurassic Park. Velociraptors were, apparently, the size of chickens – and feathered, too. Though why he persuaded volunteers to recreate the pose of three mounted gorillas in a display case donated by a bygone evolution-denier is still something of a mystery.
Bec Hill has the gushing, friendly, childish energy of an Australian Josie Long, and her breakneck jaunt around the human anatomy section was merely a chance to bask in her infectious glee about everything from the plastic kids’ model of the body to X-ray burns (honestly!). Some of this section amounted to little more than laughing at the naked people, but Hill’s cheery presence ensured all remained jolly.
Finally, fast-talking Sue Anne Post used the exhibits to launch a triptych of impassioned rants. The blue whale skeleton prompted a rather muddled monologue about the nature of water, which still raised some interesting facts, a stuffed polar bear provoked an ‘adapt or die’ tirade, while the room-sized computer with the processing power of a low-grade mobile phone was the catalyst for off-the-wall thoughts about the advances of technology.
The tour is a winning mix of fact and funny, and makes for an enjoyably different experience, even if some of the comedy segments were rather too loose around the edges. The rotating roster means the comics don’t have the time to perfect routines, so instead gush with semi-improvised thoughts. A more permanent exhibition of their skills would be even more welcome.
But you can’t fault their passion for quirky information, and enthusiasm always makes for engaging comedy. The Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour is proof of that. QED.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett