This Is Siberian Husky: The Misery Factory

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

The Misery Factory is a two-man narrative sketch-character show set, rather literally, in a factory that makes misery.

It’s a sweatshop – and occupational health-and-safety man’s nightmare – that churns outs both products and abstract concepts, including genital crabs, ‘inflexibility’ and a swimming pool full of dead dolphins, all powered by the wretchedness of depressed bloke called Bill in the basement.

But just because a scenario is absurd, that doesn’t mean all discipline should be discarded, and This Is Siberian Husky, aka Dan Allemann and Simon Godfrey, could do with a stronger plot on which to hang their shenanigans; to make their inventive world more compelling and cover the inevitable hit and miss nature of their sketches.

Yet the hits are strong and the pair are gleeful, energetic and likeable performers, who may sometimes stray into the realm of the hyperactive kids’ entertainer, but largely keep the right side of the line. They share a natural chemistry – one playing things big; the other bigger – as they maintain the appropriate cartoon-like atmosphere for their alternate, dystopian universe.

‘Pythoneque’ - that cursed all-capturing adjective – seems to be the word most frequently used to describe their surreal situations and bizarre creations. Indeed we are transported to Life Of Brian’s dungeon scene when one hapless drone learns he is to be ‘rewarded’ with a fatal beating and his sidekick jealously responds: ‘You lucky bastard!’ But The Goodies might be a better analogy, with their expansive set-up, and sense of childish, rather than intellectualised, fun. Throw in elements of The Mighty Boosh and the multi-character performance style of the Pajama Men, and you’re pretty much there.

Among their preposterous ideas lie some strong lines and fine grotesques (the old crone cackling about mixing vinegar as if it were nuclear fission is an oddball delight) - plus the odd song/air guitar break and a dash of self-referential meta-comedy to prick the illusion.

Even a relatively straightforward situation like a cinema employee finding the tills $6billion short is nicely done, having ambitions beyond the relatively straightforward premise. This scene also stands out as being a welcome change from the maniacal weirdness of the rest of the hour, which otherwise runs the risk of feeling as if it’s only got one gear: surreal overdrive.

There’s still work to be done here, but the still relatively new duo (who won a Moosehead Award last year to develop new and artistically interesting comedy) have a confidence in both performance and vision, plus an acute sense of how to make ‘zany’ actually work, that’s very appealing.

Review date: 3 Apr 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

What do you think?

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.