Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at aridhianderson.com.
Truthful, entertaining comedy with a diverse line-up
NEUROTICA is a newly launched recurring comedy event by Squirt Comedy, held on the first Thursday of the month, every two months, in the basement of Caz Reitop's Dirty Secrets, Collingwood (access by stairs only). It is an intimate venue, well-suited to the personal, confessional nature of the show, which the show hosts describe as "creative comedic non-fiction".
The idea for this night originated with three women - Vidya Rajan, Rose Bishop and Xanthea O'Connor - who envisage this show as an enduring variety night of sorts, where a diverse line-up of artists (different each time) perform short segments in whatever format they prefer, whether stand up, sketch, songs, storytelling, etc. The distinguishing feature of this show is that the content is always truthful and originates from the presenting artists' lived experience (or personal trauma - which, as Rajan observes, makes this night a fun, financially viable alternative to traditional therapy).
I attended the February 2019 edition of NEUROTICA, which was their first event after their soft launch in late 2018. The line-up for this show featured talented comedians of diverse gender identities and ethnicities and had segments covering an astonishing variety of truthful everyday experiences - parental issues, dating and relationships, annoying housemates, biggest fears, masturbation, poop (a lot of poop), and more. The highlights of the evening for me were Elyce Phillips' therapy homework (which had the audience rolling in the aisles), L Scott Jose's aww-inducing segment about the golden bridge between him and his father, Jordan Barr's discovery of the clitoris, and Scout Boxall's response to Louis CK. The other presenting artists, also very entertaining in their respective segments, were Sashi Perera, Patrick Rehill, Vidya Rajan, Xanthea O'Connor and MC Rose Bishop (who did a remarkable job of holding the evening together, despite being unwell).
The honest and personal nature of every performance, coupled with the very intimate space and audience, made the evening feel like an extended family get together (except the jokes were actually funny). There was a sense of respect and safety shared between the performers and the audience members, which made the participatory elements of the show feel comfortable and safe. There was definitely a therapeutic feel to the evening, with performers sharing very personal stories and audience members receiving them respectfully and empathetically. It was a night of comedy, but it wasn't always light - there were serious moments, heavy moments, emotional moments and moments that called for serious reflection. But on the whole it was entertaining, and an event I'd definitely return to again.
The next edition of NEUROTICA is scheduled for the first Thursday of May 2019.