Mel & Sam: High Pony | Melbourne International Comedy Festival review
review star review star review star review star review blank star

Mel & Sam: High Pony

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review

One day, Mel O’Brien and Samantha Andrew will write a darkly comic rock opera that takes Broadway by storm. But for now, we have this high-energy, in-your-face blast of a musical comedy show, full of spiky attitude, cutting lyrics and memorable melodies – and it’s a joy.

They are powerhouse, kick-ass cabaret performers who own the stage - and probably any neighbouring ones too. Their vibe may be gloriously chaotic, but beneath the zippy banter, the show’s tightly written and performed – and it needs to be, as backing tracks are very unforgiving.

With no big theme, High Pony takes its name from the hairstyles sported by the netball players of their opening number – a nine-and-a-half minute, fully choreographed banger full of hilarious double entendres suggesting, heaven forbid, that there might sometimes be lesbian undertones to the game. So catchy is the refrain of ‘net-fucking-ball’ that you’ll surely only ever refer to the sport in that way in future.

Later Lesbians Don’t Get the Ick, And That’s Science! is a bad-taste masterpiece, drawn from the pair’s hard-won personal experience. Babies Are Cancelled is an earworm for the child-haters. (#NotAllBabies of course). And for the showstopper, we learn the troubling truth of the relationship between Little Orphan Annie and Daddy Warbucks.

Across the board, the dirty-minded Mel and Sam display an outlandish lack of decorum or decency. Even when doing quite a clever skit based on Where’s Wally?, which starts with a poignant lament of a ballad, they drop in a sick joke. It's probably the only one of the hour that might actually be ill-advised.

Other scenes offer exaggerated parodies of real-life characters such as the basic middle-class mum, with well-ordered zip-lock bags and colour-coded chopping boards, and a brilliant take on a couple of rough-arsed bogan blokes. They frequently drop character, making the show looser and building a stronger rapport with the audience as we get to know the real Mel and Sam. They seem fun. 

As it’s a sketch show, there are a couple of weaker moments almost by definition, but these winsome duo have more than enough charisma to style those out for the few short minutes until the next solid-gold big number.

Mel and Sam have a big, appreciative fan base, which adds to the Party vibe of a show that’s flamboyantly entertaining from start to finish. 

• Mel & Sam are performing a final show of High Pony at The Capitol at 6.45pm tomorrow

Review date: 11 Apr 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Live comedy picks

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.