Alison Bice in My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Life
Show type: Melbourne 2009
Alison Bice was the only girl in Grade 2 with a KD Lang lunchbox. After ending up in a London hospital with heat rash, sharing a room with a victim of severe flatulence and growing up with a mother who replaces family pets with pot plants, Alison has ditched therapy and written a show about the tragedy that is her life.
Had a sitcom writer imagined a scene in which the lead character was caught naked, in a potential boyfriendís bedroom, with only a glove puppet to preserve their modesty, it would probably be derided as far-fetched.
But thatís just another episode in Alison Biceís unlucky life, as recounted in this 55-minute catalogue of klutziness.
As she self-effacingly recounts one misfortune after another, this personable 23-year-old cuts a sympathetic figure. But while these are tales that would endear her to you over a glass of wine in a bar, they donít quite pack the punch to really elevate the broadly enjoyable into a must-see show.
She hits the ground strongly, with a well-executed routine about her messed-up Mum, who laminates the most bizarre scraps of ephemera for posterity and continues to bombard her with Tweety cartoon merchandise Ė even though she hates the cutesy cartoon budgie. On the evidence presented in this show, thereís more than a touch of the Looney Tunes about Bice herself, cutting an emotionally clumsy figure as she entangles herself into all sorts of awkward situations.
Yarns about a flatulent patient she shared a hospital ward with, or the terrible time she had at the Edinburgh Fringe last year are amusing, thought she canít quite imbue them with the empathy we need to really get on board. It might be down to a delivery thatís rather distant, with eyes focussed on the horizon rather than the audience. But then her mother, the subject of so much of her material, is in the sparsely populated room tonight, so perhaps she can forgiven for not wanting to engage too much with us.
As a comedian, Bice feels like work in progress, with a winning personality and a decent bank of anecdotes, but not yet able to combine them to their most potent effect. But when she susses how to do that, the finished product will surely be worth witnessing. Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melbourne, April 2009