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Black Apple Theatre Presents 'Look at the Funny Lady' at Wesley Anne

Home > Melbourne > Shows | Quirky | Performing Arts | Gay & Lesbian | Theatre
by Jeni Wilson (subscribe)
Teacher educator and author of many teacher reference books. Amused by random ideas and loves random acts of kindness. Enjoys writing humour...seriously!Please see my Instagram: wilsonjeni
Event: -
Raunchy, hilarious and a bit queer
performance,comedy, theatre, musical, variety acts, stand up, burlesque, monolgues, cabaret, gay and lesbian
Source: Black Apple Theatre Facebook


One of the beauties of being a Weekend Notes writer is opening night invitations. Look at the Funny Lady: A Fiesta of Female Funniness – was one of those special occasions.

I love the surprise of going somewhere I've never been before and seeing something that I my might not otherwise choose to go to. However, I did a little homework and knew it was a part of the Midsumma. We had a reserved table at the front of the theatre on opening night, so I was praying that this show is not too interactive and looking at the funny ladies has nothing to do with me.

The Wesley Anne is perched right in the middle of thriving High Street, Northcote. The small theatre is a very casual one with an eclectic collection of tables, chairs and ottomans placed in an apparent haphazard manner. Tonight, there will be many people standing at the back.

performance,comedy, theatre, musical, variety acts, stand up, burlesque, monolgues, cabaret, gay and lesbian
A busy bar to grab a drink before the performance


Many of the audience tonight appeared to be connected to the cast and crew, for example, I met someone who was a student of the musical director, and another who was a writer for one of the performers. The age group varied from people in the young 20s to their 70s. I don't know the exact definition of a hipster, but I think there might be quite a few here tonight.

The busy bar next door is an intricate part of this laid-back trendy little theatre. There are many clues indicating that this was once a church. I'm sure that the long-standing toilet graffiti was not part of the original establishment. One of the comments raises an important question about whether or not the bloke behind the bar looks like a famous film star. There are several considered responses dating back to 1993. It's not the ordinary toilet graffiti; perhaps it could be considered on par with the current standard of many blogs?

It's hard to sum up the performance in a nutshell. In the advertising it was described as one part variety, one part cabaret and two parts anarchy. Look at the Funny Lady by the Black Apple Theatre Company sounded more like a fancy intoxicating cocktail, than a live performance. Bring on the Pina Coladas.

I thought tonight might be a little bit like 'Mum's the Word', a comedy I saw decades ago about becoming a mother. That night I was still crying with laughter when I got in the car. I hoped that this would be similar. Those early years of joyous and torturous child rearing are 'nearly' over, two divorces later, a fiesta it ain't, but there's certainly a need for some funniness.

performance,comedy, theatre, musical, variety acts, stand up, burlesque, monolgues, cabaret, gay and lesbian
A bustling little beer garden down the back


The performance started with no introduction other than 10 very different females parading from the back of the theatre to the stage all singing A cappella. Each has their own part to play, with most performers having a solo. Many are musical acts, some monologues, stand up comedy and others bordering on burlesque.

performance,comedy, theatre, musical, variety acts, stand up, burlesque, monolgues, cabaret, gay and lesbian
Source: Black Apple Theatre Facebook


Early in the show I was sipping on my drink, ironically at the same time as the first performer commented 'whether you are for or against torture, you will need to be hydrated'. It was not a reference to what was about to come.

Next, the uniquely voiced piano accordionist, dressed in sequenced hot pants and fishnet stockings, introduced herself as sort of a stay at home mum - without kids. She's sang a very funny version of 'Big Spenders' about Myki evaders.

When another performance started to relay her very reasonable list of what she wanted in a perfect man, (tall wide smile, smart, studious and can cook), I thought this was getting too close to home and predictably too close to reality for; you guessed it, how their perfect mate ended up being gay. I reflected on how undemanding females are in comparison and the length of a male counterpart's list of the perfect female – that one stretches for many pages! How clever this skit is to make you think about the benefits of the underlying themes.

One of the girls sounded like a Disney character pouring her heart out about the inequitable unfairness of life and the lack of the foreseeable solutions.

My absolute favourite for the night was the ode to a very thing famous female Sara Lee, without a 'H'. Her timing, subtle and not so subtle body language had the audience laughing out loud. At one stage she paused to indulge in a plate of Sara Lee cake and took more than the time necessary to relish it and then to lick the plate clean. The lyrics were hilarious.

About halfway through the show I was trying to make connections between the acts. Many seem to be parodying Americans, with over exaggerated accents. A few of the others were clearly pro lesbian. Another underlying theme was about girls who don't fit in. I noticed several times during the performance that the inclusion of catastrophes bought silence to the theatre, but you could hear the music and laughter from the bar next door.

I will make mention that there is an amount of heavy duty swearing. There are very few things in life that I know will be true forever, but one of them is about two little words spoken during the show. I have never and I will never speak them in my entire life.

So, what is this show all about? To me it was all about women being brave and bold, everyday struggles and human tragedy, and about women tackling issues of sexuality. It is about how women manage all of these things, sometimes in space of five minutes with the support of the sisterhood. Look at the Funny Lady is about what women hope for, dream about and fantasise about. This fiesta of female funniness celebrates the diversity of women.

performance,comedy, theatre, musical, variety acts, stand up, burlesque, monolgues, cabaret, gay and lesbian
Laugh and be laughed at!
Source: Black Apple Theatre Facebook


The women in the show are not afraid to laugh at themselves, women and the human race. The performance a group of talented and hilarious women is something that not everybody appreciates. They are blatantly brash, confronting and proud. The song 'I am Woman' rings strongly in my ears. Certainly too strong to ignore.

I am woman, hear me roar… with laughter.
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*Jeni Wilson was invited as a guest
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Why? For a good old chuckle and to celebrate queer culture
When: 23 Jan -1 Feb
Where: 250 High Street, Northcote
Cost: From $25
Your Comment
Loved this review. I follow alot of Jeni's posts and thoroughly enjoy them.
Keep em coming.
by eve.c (score: 2|302) 2314 days ago
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