Comedy nights at Papa Gede's is the brainchild of stand up comedian Chris Leben of Hungry Beast and Triple J fame. The opening night was Tuesday 20th January with an anticipated following on the third Tuesday of each month. The venue is tucked behind Kent Street at the end of a cobblestoned laneway through a short tunnel in a redesigned garage.
The owners of Papa Gede's, Lara Dignam, Michael Dhinse and Joshua Ng have fashioned their cosy cocktail bar on a New Orleans voodoo saloon complete with animal skulls, skeleton trinkets and velvety coloured walls. But don't be alarmed as it's all smoke and mirrors. The staff are completely harmless, perfectly friendly and the atmosphere is alive.
So who is Papa Gede you may ask? As cleverly stated in their drinks menu he is "a psychopomp, a soulful guide who protects the living and brings lust and laughter to all". Which is exactly why this is the perfect setting for a night full of sinful stand up comedy. The opening night was masterfully hosted by Cam Knight who set the scene with his charming larrikin style. Declaring his new fatherhood, shaming the young audience members and taking us down memory lane with a trip to the races he kept the intimate crowd of patrons wanting more. But alas, he was only our host and his job was to introduce the support acts of Alice Fraser, Tom Cashman and Geoffrey Windle before the headliner Tom Ballard joined us in the second bracket.
At just $10 a ticket, it simply seems too little a price to pay for a fun night being entertained by Australia's comedic crop. Shuffling through the crowd to take front stage each comedian faced a full room of mixed age guys and girls some standing, some perched at the bar, some lounging on comfy arm chairs and some sitting on the floor. The first bracket kept us laughing for 40 minutes before a surprise guest performance by Wil Anderson. Although I am a great fan of his I must admit feeling a little underwhelmed by his repertoire of reprimands towards the younger audience members and his slap in the face commentary at our $10 ticket compared to his $70 Opera House tickets the previous night.
Nevertheless we were not there to see Wil Anderson. After a short break to catch some fresh air outside under the stars, the headliner Tom Ballard took centre stage for the second bracket and he did not disappoint. My first time witnessing Tom's laid-back Aussie approach, openly homosexual humour and hilarious punch lines he made the night completely worthwhile.
Papa Gede's and Chris Leben have hit on something particularly unique here. Together they are introducing Sydney siders to affordable clever comedy in a venue which is full of character and good vibes. Their next comedy night on the 17th February at 7.30pm promises to be just as successful with a lineup including Becky Lucas, Sam Campbell, Rhys Nicholson and Matt Okine headlining.