Prue Blake: Concrete Pigs | Melbourne International Comedy Festival review
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Prue Blake: Concrete Pigs

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review

Prue Blake’s day job is as a town planner… which could be a worrying sign for the future of Australia’s cities, given how messily she’s planned this sophomore show.

The structure – trying to link her gentle anecdotes to her career – is hugely laboured, investing so much in trying to get the architecture of the show to work, with very limited success, rather than in the actual substance of the show. Yet for all that effort, many of her stories are linked to the theme by nothing more than ‘well, it happened in a city…’

The Concrete Pig of the title is her reaction to the work of Danish town planner Jan Gehl, who has been instrumental in drawing up blueprints for many Australian communities. Blake believes that after lots of data-crunching, his suggestions never amount to more than adding more murals – putting lipstick on the concrete cow of the city. 

While Blake insists this show is comedy not ‘edutainment’, that’s quite a lot of stuff to explain just to express a professional bugbear few else will care about. Likewise, we’re invited to hate traffic engineers, though I remain unsure why.

Visit Melbourne Melbourne International Comedy FestivvalMelbourne International Comedy Festiva news and reviews with Visit VictoriaFurther entangling herself in gimmicks rather than content, she spends a lot of time giving someone in the audience a clicker to count the laughs in a Gehl-like way of gathering statistics. At the end, we get a number and, erm, that’s it. Meanwhile, the click itself proves an audible irritant across the hour.

Maybe that literal laugh count – every titter counts – is a way of proving these anecdotes are funny because – one stand-out about outdoor peeing aside – they tend to be mildly amusing rather than  laugh-out-loud. The altercation on a tram, for example, is definitely a cool story you’d tell your mates, and Blake makes a decent job of it, but there seems little added value that makes it comedy.

Blake herself is an endearing presence – her nerdiness combined with her  underconfidence makes her come across as genuine, and her heart is largely in the right place. However, she is uncharacteristically callous when dismissing one elderly woman’s concerns about a massive new building blocking out her garden’s sunlight.

Blake feels like a comic still finding her voice, but focussing on unimportant things like stage dressing and needless novelties while she does.

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Review date: 12 Apr 2024
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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