Chris North: The Bloke's Guide To Getting Married

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Melbourne Comedy Festival, Chris North and Nick Foran have dusted down an old script from that first year, to give us a glimpse into the sort of things we found funny in those primitive, unenlightened days.

Men are useless fools who function only on beer, porn and footy; women are irrational an unknowing, and stifle their husbands in the prison of marriage. And as for mothers-in-law, they are nagging harridans.

Oh, hang on. What’s this? This isn’t a reprisal of an ancient script from decades ago, but a brand new one? Written in 2011? No, surely not…

There is, unfortunately, not a single fresh idea in The Bloke’s Guide To Getting Married. Think of every standard relationship stand-up cliché ever, and it’s here. When women say ‘nothing’s wrong’ they mean ‘something’s wrong’; there’s no right answer to the question ‘does this dress make me look fat?’; wives are never wrong, husbands always are…

It’s not to say there isn’t some truth in the clichés – they wouldn’t have endured so long otherwise – but there’s little comic mileage in repeating ideas that are already such widely accepted currency you’ll hear them in any bar in any city. And there’s no twist to them here, they don’t sneak up on you stealthily; just presented as if they were fresh insight, when they are nothing but.

As a show it’s wonderfully staged, with loving attention to detail from the greeting on the way in to the party favours on the way out. North and Foran as groom and best man are both engaging performers with spot-on timing, great warmth and decent singing voices that they put to use across a range of musical styles. But it won’t come as much surprise that the lyrics are often uninspired – changing the opening to Bohemian Rhapsody to ‘Is this the real wife?’ for example. Yes, it’s that simple.

At one point get to demonstrate their musical talents in a montage that employs five distinctive musical styles… all for a variation on the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ brush-off line. That’s symptomatic of the whole show: nicely done but one hackneyed joke is stretched out over five long minutes.

Foran goes uncredited in the title, which is odd as this definitely is a double-act of equal partnership; but then maybe he doesn’t want his name on this dreary, if wonderfully-performed, slice of matrimonial hokum.

Reviewed at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, April 2011

Review date: 1 Jan 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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