Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at aridhianderson.com.
Stories about monkeys, the police, and brushes with death
Most people think their lives are interesting till they meet someone at a party telling some truly crazy stories. And then they can't help but wonder, how can so much drama happen to one person? Matt Harvey's Comedy Festival show, I Got Bit By a Monkey Once, is exactly this sort of experience: an hour of true stories about travel, brushes with death, and encounters with the police, which will probably give you a fresh appreciation for the simplicity of your own life experiences. (Unless you've actually got crazier stories than that, in which case put on your own show!)
Matt Harvey seems to find himself in situations that make for funny stories. He handpicks five of these stories and takes us on a journey through them, effortlessly crafting clear visual images and timelines so that we can re-live his experiences exactly how (he says) they happened. He begins with a story about being bitten by a monkey in Bali, goes on to the story of a very intimidating invitation to LA from a stranger in a public toilet, then a story about a scary fire-related incident, another story about being arrested on his way home from a work party, and finally a story about being mugged by some very creative criminals. Harvey's storytelling is refined but unpretentious, and his performance is easy to sit through. His stories have the ring of truth to them and are believable as things that can happen (to other people) while still being incredible enough to entertain you for a whole hour.
Harvey says there are no messages or takeaways from this show, but I think that depends a little on how you receive these stories. I definitely found myself reflecting on the situations he found himself in, and wondering how I'd respond if I were in his shoes. All five of his stories are distinct in their essence and mood, and are memorable, which always creates scope for some reflection, no matter how light. There's definitely no deep message that the stories inherently preach, but that doesn't mean that this show lacks substance: it is a lightly meaningful experience, and at the very least, an enjoyable hour.