Eskimo Jokes

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Comedy for kids is now a well-established concept, but with Eskimo Jokes the Melbourne festival is trying to fill another gap: comedy for teenagers.

It is advertised as being suitable for 13 to 17-year-olds, but the afternoon’s audience goes much younger than this, which immediately creates problems. A ten-year-old and a 17-year-old’s vocabulary, frame of reference and sensibilities are far from similar.

The comics, too, seem uncertain how – or indeed if – they should adapt their material; with the opening pair apparently too inexperienced to have much other than their standard sets to draw upon. Satisfying this audience is, in many ways, harder than playing to a club crowd, so needs to be left to those stand-ups who are the most flexible.

Compere Harley Breen played things safe, sticking mainly to fart and pooh gags. You can hardly go wrong with these universally juvenile topics, and he kept the young audience engaged, if not rolling in the aisles.

In contrast, local act Celia Pacquola, who also appears in the festival’s Comedy Zone line-up of up-and-coming comics, made no concessions to the audience, and her anecdotes of being at drama school and failing job interviews failed to strike a chord.

She’s also too chatty, with not enough emphasis on the jokes. When a gag does come along, it’s often a good one, but they’re too widely spaced. And her finale in which she adopted the persona of an old woman, with an English West Country accent and obsession with birdsong, jarred. More an audition piece than stand-up, this.

Richard McKenzie was equally baffling in his choice of material: obscure comic-book characters from the Eighties and the film Tremors, from the same decade. Fact is that only the parents would have been alive in the Eighties – and even then, the chances of them knowing the finer points of the Superfriends series is slight. His philosophy that if you shout your material loud enough, it must be funny is also mistaken. However, a slive of rambling, surreal nonsense he delivered towards the end of his set did entertain the teenagers, simply for its apparent randomness.

Mickey D was the most successful of the four, taking pains to engage with the audience, involving them by asking leading questions: standard compering techniques, but more than enough to grab the youngsters’ attention. The animated delivery and exaggerated sound effects also brought to life his stories of working in a KFC – an establishment everyone would be familiar with, as a customer at least. Having a shared point of reference is a small point, but one apparently so easily overlooked.

Comedy for teenagers is a good idea, but the producers need to look further than simply finding the comics who don’t swear too much to find those who will really appeal to this difficult age group.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melbourne, April 2007

Read More

Published: 1 Jan 2007

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Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2002

Mickey D Has The Eye Of Chi

Edinburgh Fringe 2003

Men In Coats

Mickey D Was A Pub Kid

Edinburgh Fringe 2006

Phat Cave

Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Mickey D: Good Bloke


Gag Reflex Management
Contact by email
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The Sharp Project
Thorp Road
M40 5BJ
Office: 0161 205 8739

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