Comedy Review: The Just for Laughs All-Star Gala proved funnier than Smash Mouth & sillier too

Ten comedians walk into the Opera House. They deliver some cracking jokes. Hilarity ensues. Rinse and repeat. This is how you could sum up the 8th Just for Laughs All-Star Gala. Local and international comics came together to deliver some wonderful observational and improvisational comedy.

Our nation’s very own Dave Hughes was MC for the night. His dry and sarcastic anecdotes about his family have seen him become one of Australia’s most beloved comedians. Tonight he didn’t disappoint with quips about his risky strawberry and grape-eating behaviour, as well as things like: buying The Block house and perhaps a little too much information from his colonic.

Former Triple J presenter, Matt Okine straddled the lines between good and bad taste. The latter applies to his delivery and deconstruction of a joke involving period blood. While Germaine Greer would have been proud, it divided the room, even more than his clever jokes about the black emoji characters.

Flying the flag for the international comics was Canadian, Ivan Decker with a long bit about juicers. There was some good stuff in it but his gags about dining in the dark were stronger. His set also had a handy message: if you go to one of those restaurants, you can leave your table manners at the door because no one can see you! Comedy with a public service announcement, two things you don’t normally see combined together.

It is difficult to describe Reggie Watts’ set. He began by jamming along to some looped sounds that he’d laid down. The music was very high in the mix so it was hard to hear what he was saying. It seems like the point was to poke fun at Triple J. He then delivered a great, Eastern European accent and graduated to some jokes about AC/DC. If you’re confused, a maze would be clearer.

Cal Wilson was a darling, describing getting old, house renovating and vegan pet food manufacturers. She was clever, witty and endearing. Fortune Feimster had a different tact with her set. She remembered being the fat kid and tom boy at school. She was loud and proud to be a large lesbian from the South. She had a nice coming-out story because a rainbow appeared out of nowhere on cue. They say don’t work with kids or animals but in Feimster’s case, the weather can actually be more predictable.

For a taste of New York the house were treated to Ryan Hamilton. He talked about sugar, tennis and haircuts. It was pleasant-enough but the trophy for the funniest and silliest performance of the evening should go to Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood and Greg Proops from the TV show, Whose Line is it Anyway? They played the Sound Effects Game where they improvised building a house while two rather drunk audience members made up the sounds. A lot of their off-the-cuff remarks were about how different the sounds produced were from the expected ones. The trio summed it up best as a soundtrack from onomatopoeia island and what you get when you combine physics, airflow and lot of alcohol. Indeed.

The eighth Just for Laughs Gala had been one funny night at the Opera House. These all-stars knew how to work the large concert hall and provide the funny. They certainly hit more home-runs than those all-stars Smash mouth once sang about. In sum, there was a little something for everyone in this motley crew of funny men and women.

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

The reviewer attended the second performance at the Sydney Opera House on November 25. For more details about Just for Laughs Sydney head to justforlaughs.sydney.

Natalie Salvo

My writing portfolio can be found at: https://nataliesalvo.wordpress.com/