The Crimson Goat Cabaret Club Super Show

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Veterans of the Melbourne comedy scene, Elliot Goblet and Slim Whittle set up the monthly Crimson Goat Cabaret Club in Prahan last year in a bid to recreate the ‘golden age’ of maverick cabaret acts of the Seventies and Eighties.

Hosting these comedy festival specials, Marty Fields paid tribute to the pioneering, experimental spirit of early clubs such as the Last Laugh. ‘Comedians today copy a lot of ideas,’ he said. ‘These guys were originals.’

A fine sentiment, only somewhat diminished by the fact his own routine comprised almost entirely other people’s material, gags that might, by a generous definition, be considered in the public domain, although someone, somewhere once wrote them.

There’s a definite old-school feel to the line-up, featuring some traditional if talented turns such as magician Nick Nickolas, ventriloquist Dean Atkinson and vaudevillian physical comic The Bellboy (whose shtick seemed rather amateurish at this show). Jon Jackson lived up to his billing of ‘extra enormous vocal range’ with his soprano operatic singing; while Mic Conway added lots of class to stock magic and juggling tricks with the addition of music from Robbie Long.

The best comedy is timeless, of course, as exemplified by the dry, offbeat one-liners of Goblet himself, the wonderfully deadpan creation of Jack Levi. Self-styled ‘uncrowned king of country and western’ Slim Whittle – the alter ego of Mitchell Faircloth – was a little muddled in his stand-up banter between songs, but there are some good gags nestling in there.

The enduring appeal of these comedy frontiersmen is probably best exemplified by Bob Franklin, now nominated for the Barry after all these years. Here he performed straight stand-up, not the character that’s winning him acclaim in the Town Hall, but the off-kilter material and careful, considered delivery are just as winning in his own persona. Andrea Powell’s octogenarian Ethel Chop, on the other hand, recited her witlessly filthy routine to near silence.

A mixed bag, then, as such an eclectic line-up was probably always destined to be. Although it is notable that the line-up boasted few performers from today’s cutting-edge of cabaret performance, with the notable exception of acrobatic Anna Lumb. One thing that presumably made those early days so exciting is that they weren’t so beholden to the acts of 30 years previously.

Reviewed at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, April 2011

Review date: 1 Jan 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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