No News Like Old News

No News Like Old News

Here it is, folks. Two months out-of-date, but it’s the review of my shows in Melbourne that came out a mere six days after the last show I did there. Better late than when?



From the moment Canadian comedian Todd Van Allen stepped on stage in front of the iconic brick wall at the Alley Bar we knew this was going to be a quintessential stand-up show. What we didn’t know, however, was whether or not it was going to be a good one.

Van Allen began his show referencing Melburnian culture with his impressions of a recent gig he did in Frankston – a tactic that seems to be very popular with international comedians. Poor old Frankston certainly copped a beating during this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Yet, thankfully there mustn’t have been any Frankston locals in the audience, as his jibes at the town’s expense were met with knowing nods and sniggers.

At times the cultural gap between Canadian and Australian humour was evident but generally Van Allen’s intelligent and self-deprecating style of comedy was received well. Playing to a modest and relatively timid crowd of about 15-20, Van Allen was able to assimilate their passivity and exploit it for some of his funniest moments. Without a doubt the comedian’s strength is his ability to improvise, his surveys of the audience throwing up some unique and humourous responses. In a slight twist, Van Allen’s alter-ego character, the local historian Titus Malcolm, took questions from the audience in a totally random and funny manner which again highlighted his abilities as a great improv comedian.

As a generous gesture Todd gave about ten minutes of his set to his fellow Canadian Byron Bertram who proved very entertaining. Doing impersonations of British and Australian comics, for the short time he was on, Byron was very impressive – slightly manic – but impressive.

Overall, “Home and Away” was a fun hour of traditional stand-up comedy infused with some classy improv.

– Brigitte Stone”

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