Jackie Hatton: Virtually A Reality | Melbourne International Comedy Festival review
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Jackie Hatton: Virtually A Reality

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review

Be wary of the march of artificial intelligence is the message solo sketch comedian Jackie Hatton is spreading – so no wonder the machines want to shut her down. That can be the only reason why the tech doesn’t always co-operate in this ambitious festival debut.

Yet she doesn’t let the occasional snafu faze her, just as she isn’t put off by the smallish audience she attracts for her playful, if slightly messy, take on such a pressing topic.

Dressed in gamer girl clobber, Hatton takes to the stage with a host of glowing testimonials from people who are definitely real and not at all AI-generated avatars. 

Meanwhile, her own alter-ego is an enthusiastic adopter of technology, even using it to conjure up a digital partner for herself – a bot who’s learned his masculinity from the internet. So, of course, it turns out her AI BF is toxic AF.

So enthusiastic is she for the cyber future that she even signs up for Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain implants, although it turns out her tech savviness doesn’t extend to protecting her data, and she falls victim to an unsophisticated phishing scam, with troubling results.

Visit Melbourne Melbourne International Comedy FestivvalMelbourne International Comedy Festiva news and reviews with Visit VictoriaThis cautionary tale can be a little clunky but serves as a solid vehicle for Hatton’s daft sense of humour. The fake AI lets her exaggerate reality and get it slightly wrong, the foundation for all her charming absurdity. Likewise, the fact that her graphics and videos aren’t entirely slick is part of the shtick.

Hatton is a charismatic presence, even if this unrealistically heightened version of herself isn’t entirely convincing, even before we get to the deepfakes. 

The premise allows her to string sketches together naturally, and she’s rammed the hour with gags, from double entendres with her VR lover to myriad small sight gags hidden in incriminating, hastily closed tabs briefly glimpsed on her computer. 

The momentum flags a little towards the end, but the groundwork she’s done in creating a distinctive and unconventional theme to encapsulate her sketches makes her stand out among this year’s batch of newcomers.

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Review date: 14 Apr 2024
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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