Having such a booze focused culture in Australia, Tales From My Liver – a comedy night focussing on alcohol fuelled adventures – is an apt idea.
The often messy hi-jinks associated with these stories would logically be suited to a grungier venue than the classy surrounds of Melbourne’s Madame Brussells. Several performers mentioned feeling out of place in both its front bar, themed like a private tennis club, and the mahogany-lined parlour where the show took place. On the plus side, the lounge room feel gave the perfect atmosphere for storytelling; sitting in a comfy chair on a winter’s night with a drink in hand while listening to talented comedians tell their tales.
Our host, and event organiser, Simon Keck treated the audience to a number of short tales. Most of them involved drunken sexual encounters, a theme repeated by other performers. Rather than engage in audience banter to warm the capacity crowd, Keck briefly outlined the show concept before launching straight into his first story. He often inserted his own tales between the featured acts, linking to what had just been told, demonstrating clear evidence of a huge back catalogue of stories he has on this topic.
Tegan Higginbotham was the first act who, despite constant apologies for her limited drunken experience, presented a delightful story about getting tipsy to endure a dull social gathering. Given her sweet, youthful persona it was perhaps for the best that she didn’t regale us with a story where she lost her dignity and innocence. This cheeky observational tale suited her personality perfectly.
Pete Sharkey hit the stage next with a couple of short pieces about his attempts to get away with drunk-driving. This lovable larrikin won over the crowd with these tales of irresponsibility and his spirited delivery had us all chuckling at his foolishness.
Trav Nash kicked things up a gear with a high-energy performance where he didn’t even bother using the microphone to tell his pair of tales. One was about a less than classy sexual encounter while the other detailed his wacky antics in the face of physical aggression. Nash’s highly animated performance, exaggerated shouting and wild gesturing, kept the crowd in stitches.
Following the interval came Lou Sanz, who took this opportunity to read an excerpt from a book she is writing. Even though it mentions drinking in passing, this story detailing a rendezvous with a clueless suitor in a less than romantic setting didn’t strictly adhere to the brief. Delivered in Sanz’s dry, sarcastic tone using plenty of colourful, hilarious descriptions, it was an entertaining tale.
Steele Saunders presented some of his honed routines from his usual stand-up repertoire of drunken yarns, including a story that culminates in an extreme episode of binge drinking. A slacker with a cynical edge, his polished delivery provided a constant stream of laughs.
Tommy Dassalo followed with a couple of short tales, one that appeared new (about teen drinking hotspot Surfer’s Paradise) while the other was a variation on a familiar routine that worked in the drinking angle. This was classic Dassalo, celebrating youthful folly with a glint in his eye.
Rounding out the evening was David Quirk, who included some stories which have been seen on stage before only as brief ideas. He was able to extract extra mileage out of these – and freshen them up – by expanding upon the details. Even though it had the veneer of storytelling, Quirk used his carefully measured stand-up style to keep all glued to his every word.
This evening is a welcome addition to the storytelling scene. All the performers expressed enthusiasm for the future events run by Keck which are already in the pipeline. With the room filled to capacity – albeit only 50 punters – it seemed that Melbourne loves to laugh at others’ drunken misfortune.