Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at aridhianderson.com.
Stand up comedy about travel experiences
John Green and Rakhesh Martyn are British comedians who have travelled to and lived in a number of different places including Melbourne, where they recently presented their show Great Expatations as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The show is all about their funny travel experiences and adventures, and is split into three parts - Green's stand up segment, Martyn's stand up segment, and then a joint impromptu segment responding to audience prompts about their own opinions of nightmare travel destinations.
Green's segment was the strongest part of the show, and got things off to a promising start with anecdotal comedy about his travels in Europe, America and Mauritius, his observations about fellow travellers (who were sometimes quite cringey), and his progress with his romantic relationship (an entertaining story of how he came to be engaged). While his content was strong overall, and drew positive responses from the audience (the show was sold out the night I attended), I couldn't always catch everything he said, possibly owing in part to his heavy accent and unassertive delivery.
Martyn's segment, by contrast, was more animated and varied, and in addition to verbal narration of his stories, also included the use of printed posters of social media screenshots. Although his segment was also well received by the audience, his content felt somewhat lacking in substance, as he seemed to rely heavily on self-deprecating humour, mostly about his ethnicity (he is Sri Lankan born) and physical appearance. The bizarre story about how his head began to trend on social media after a television appearance was definitely funny enough to warrant a place in a comedy show, but in the context of all his other jokes putting himself down, I found myself wishing he'd offer something other than himself for us to laugh at.
The final segment was, unfortunately, a bit of an anticlimax, especially after the substantial build-up that ran parallel to most of the show. A bucket and a pad of post-it notes had been passed around the audience while Green and Martyn performed their segments, and every audience member was asked to write the name of "the worst shithole they'd ever been to". The task wasn't easy, I certainly couldn't think of anywhere I'd travelled to that I'd call a "shithole", but a full bucket made it back to the stage where Green and Martyn took turns reading prompts and giving their own opinions on why the places named in the post-it notes were "shitholes" for real. I'm not sure if this segment added anything to the show.
Despite its hit-and-miss format and humour, Great Expatations was a reasonably entertaining show overall, and would probably be a good fit for travel enthusiasts, especially travellers who enjoy hearing (or having) a whinge about travel experiences gone wrong.