Sam Brooks marks the halfway point of the comedy festival with two slam-dunk shows from Billy T Award winner Guy Montgomery and Snort regular Donna Brookbanks.
Guy Montgomery: Let’s All Get In A Room Together
It’s hard to sum up why Guy Montgomery is special as a comedian. He mixes the affability of the popular guy who was nice to you in high school but you didn’t know why with the complete absurdism of the strange man at the bar who has been staring into the middle distance for the past 15 minutes.
This makes for a strange audience dynamic. There are the people who have been coming to see Montgomery since well before he won the Billy T Award – the die-hard comedy fans who know what he’s all about, who want to see something crazy and want to see something a bit shambolic. And then there’s the general public (read this with exactly as much disdain as is intended) who are drawn by his blokey approachability.
He’s an unpredictable performer, even though this show is clearly well-rehearsed, so when an audience member throws a wrench in the work, intentionally so because the general public are the absolute worse, Montgomery’s persona shifts into something much more angry and bizarre. It’s an absolute credit to him that it entirely works.
There’s not a lot of people doing completely absurdist comedy in this country, who will start us off with a seemingly innocuous story about being a good house guest and end up in a seemingly cataclysmic event, but Montgomery does it as easily as you might see a middle-aged dude making jokes about his wife.
It’s Montgomery’s persona that gets people in the room, but it’s his out-of-the-left-field stadium that keeps everybody coming back.
You can book tickets to Guy Montgomery: Let’s All Get In A Room Together here.
Donna Brookbanks: Cat-Lady-in-Waiting
I’ve been loving Donna Brookbanks onstage for ages. I’ve seen her do Snort countless times, where she proves a beautiful counterweight to the bigger personalities in the crew, and I saw her do 20 minutes in last year’s festival as part of a line-up with Brynley Stent and Alice Snedden (you should be kicking yourself for missing it, honestly).
Brookbanks’ first hour is a delightful mixture of theatre and stand-up, with Brookbanks’ personality taking front-seat and driving us all the way home. Self-deprecation is an easy go-to for comedians, especially local ones, because an audience is less likely to beat up on you if you beat up on yourself first. Brookbanks is self-deprecating, but there’s a darkness to it that not only is appealing and a valuable point of difference, but it actually provokes us into laughter.
Brookbanks also stands definitively at the borderline of being completely comfortable onstage – she’s more in her body and physically expressive than many stand-ups I’ve seen this festival so far – and being awkward as a person. That mix is something that’s hard to master. It’s even harder to plumb the awkwardness for material while still delivering that material as confidently as possible, and the fact that Brookbanks has mastered it so early on in her career bodes incredibly well.
This show also has the one and only pun I have laughed at in the entire festival, and the most beautifully sad-funny ending. See it.
You can book tickets to Donna Brookbanks: Cat-Lady-in-Waiting here.
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