Sunday, April 8, 2012

MICF Review - Dr Professor Neal Portenza's "Choose your own Portenza"

Since here at The Ground is Lava have our hearts deeply entrenched in comedy, we thought we'd review a few shows  appearing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
If you'r strapped for time (firstly why the fuck are you here?) then check out the Tuxedo Cat, a great venue offering alternative, interesting comedy. The first three reviews are shows featuring there.

Dr Proffessor Neal Portenza's "Choose your own Portenza"

Firstly, as soon as you enter the room at the Tuxedo Cat, your comedy spidey sensors should be tingling. Party Hats, a cassette walkman (I remember playing M People very fondly as a 12-year-old) and a small remote with a button next to A,B, C and D sit on your chair. As you'll find out, this little beauty helps you make changes to the show. Not in a drunken heckle making the performer feel bad kind of way, but choosing dialogue, characters and scenarios that are performed dutifully. Fundamentally, your steering the way.

And lucky that you are, because if Josh Ladgrove crafted this beautifully chaotic snowball to roll down the hill, he's left it up to beret wearing Dr Neal to steer it along with a tea strainer. We're all invited to Neal's birthday, and in a great "30 Days has December" poem, it's revealed that Dr Neal loves his birthday. And even though he skews a Japanese game show to favour a "pretty lady" from an audience couple, and stares angrily as he opens empty presents that he himself planted, we learn to love Neal as well.

Josh has created an amazing character in Dr Neal; a startled, slightly selfish yet completely endearing man-child. Leaving the show, you feel drained, but in a good way. The energy that Josh brings to each segment, from hurling stress balls at the audience to an amazing self-inflicted sleeper hold, is breathtaking.

Although there's definitely still skill in delivering traditional stand-up, a tight, jam-packed 50 minutes of exciting characters, performances and high production values left me thinking of the former "Wow, what lazy fuckers".

Four stars.

Dr Neal is performing at 8:30 at the Tuxedo Cat up until Tuesday.

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