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Comic's Corner

Showcasing top end comics and local stand-up performers.

By Will Crawford 

The Mechanics of Comedy – Part 3

Comedy is often just story telling from an unexpected perspective. Whether it’s a well-crafted Sean Loch one-liner taking aim at children’s acting abilities, watching Robin Williams dance with a panoply of improvised misfits, 
or a florid journey through Noel Fielding’s surrealist landscape of woodland elves, afro-Caribbean-funk shamans and depressive anthropomorphized moons, comedy is, at its core, a narrative art. 

The Surrealist

In this month’s micro-essay, or “messay”, I examine the ethereal and whimsical stylings of the Surrealist Comedian. The Surrealists commonly dispense with reality’s restrictive undergarments and playfully wander through labyrinthine worlds of quirky characters, strange ideas and novel settings to unearth their laughs. 

The standup comics that can properly be classified as Surrealists include Australia’s own Sam Simmons, Britain’s James Acaster and Fielding, and in the US: the elastic faced Maria Bamford, Mitch Hedberg and Steven Wright. 

Wright is deservedly regarded as one of the modern era’s greatest standup comics, owing largely to his phenomenal ability to craft surrealist one-liners, often taking an idea, flipping a societal convention on its head and marinating the joke in a viscous film of otherworldly joy.

The following Wright one-liners demonstrate how easily he has skipped between the cracks of logic in the universe’s pavement:  
“I busted a mirror and got seven year’s bad luck. But my lawyer thinks he can get me five.”

“I bought a dog the other day...  I named him Stay. It's fun to call him... "Come here, Stay! Come here, Stay!" Now he just ignores me and keeps typing. He's an East German Shepherd. Very disciplined.”

“The other day when I was walking through the woods, I saw a rabbit standing in front of a candle making shadows of people on a tree.”

“I remember my first job…I used to be a narrator for bad mimes.”

In television, Surrealists are less common. In the 50s and 70s The Goon Show and Monty Python’s Flying Circus would often play in surrealist, Dadaist sandpits.

In more recent times, the English series Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, was an excellent, quirky mockumentary about the fictitious makers of a fictitious Stephen King-esque sci-fi hospital drama.

Several cast members launched their careers in this and went on to star in The Mighty Boosh and The IT Crowd. The American sketch-comedy show Tim and Eric: Great Show Nice Job is another impressive surrealist foray.

Australia has rarely embraced the Surrealists. Sadly, the Doug Anthony All Stars were the last group that seriously played with anarchic and surrealist material in prime time.  

To catch some great local comedy and to try to spot an Australian Surrealist (a bit like Where’s Wally or hunting a Gouldian finch) head to:

First Thursdays Comedy – Frustrated and Furious THU 1 MAR | 7.30PM | BROWN’S MART | $10 |

RAW Comedy – NT Final FRI 2 MAR | 7PM | THE VENUE FANNIE BAY | $30 | Conc $25 |

Croc Bite Comedy Open Mic Night FRI 23 MAR | 8PM | MAYFAIR GALLERY | $10 |


Will Crawford is an up-and-crawling comic. He moonlights as a land rights lawyer and policy activist.

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