The morning before the opening night of Issy Phillip's ASMR Live I'll admit I didn't really know what ASMR stood for. I knew it involved whispers, crinkling chip packets and a slew of hugely popular Youtubers. A quick Google reveals that ASMR doesn't refer to the whispers or the YouTube videos, but to the sensation they elicit – autonomous sensory meridian response, a tingling and, for some people, relaxing feeling that people get from specific auditory and visual stimuli. Judging from opening night Issy Phillip's show does a much better job of eliciting a very different response from the audience: laughter.
It starts with a whisper over the speakers. "Hello." Then Issy Phillips bounds onto the stage with an energy that doesn't quite match the deliberate hush enveloping every word. We're quietly introduced to the comedic side of ASMR with 'ASMR' funeral. Every sob, whimper, tissue packet and family quarrel add to the tingling feeling at the back of your neck. While Issy hisses "put that sandwich down, you didn't pay for this!" I'm in stitches, but I can't help but wonder if she can keep this going for the whole 45 minutes.
That's when Phillips turns the show on its head. Instead of an evening of whispers, the audience is taken through an audio-visual exploration of Internet trends from incels to TED talks and Call of Duty to "do you feel old yet?" memes and threatening chain letters. The jokes are all funny, but it's Phillips' energy that really carries the whole show. She takes on a range of different characters including her 'woke dad' and a housewife with a candy crush habit and an excellent aim (Issy, please upload this song to YouTube).
ASMR Live lacks the polish of some of the bigger comedy names you'll find at The Garden or Gluttony, but that's really an endorsement of the show. While the jokes are obviously well planned, there's an energy and spontaneity that some comedians miss. Whether she's singing and dancing, posing philosophical thought experiments or showing off card tricks, Issy Phillips is a hilarious force of energy who can command the stage with a few simple props and some multimedia tricks up her sleeve. This is the type of show that fringe festivals are supposed to be about.
Tickets for ASMR Live are available from the Adelaide Fringe website. There are two more shows on Saturday 16th and Friday 22nd of February, both at 11.05pm at the National Wine Centre's Ferguson room.