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2011 Tales From My Liver Review

Drunk jibing

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.

Colin Flaherty
Chortle 2011

2011 Good Grief – **** Herald Sun

INTIMATE venues can be the very hardest places – and not just for the guy on stage. There’s nowhere to hide in the audience, either.

What if the comedy isn’t funny? What if the unfunny man picks on you? Gets mad? Won’t let you leave?

The performance space under Caz Reitops bar in Smith St is rudely, charmingly,alarmingly small.Seated two rows from the back at Trav Nash’s one-man show, I was also three rows from the front.Never mind, but I’d read another person’s review of Nash’s work, and it had mentioned a “wall of confrontation” he created between himself and his audience.

Sigh. I steeled myself for a spit-sprayed assault.

Nash, in his brown trousers and with his little paunch and wild eyes, is certainly intense, barely drawing breath as he delivers the story of his life as a square peg in a round hole (his birthplace Adelaide’s the hole) like an impassioned, bewildered plea for understanding. But there is no “wall”.

Even during the more hysterical moments in his story – the bit about his Mum’s spooky doll collection, his first encounter with Christian music, his existential breakdown in a potato factory – he takes you with him.

The “uncomfortable boy” schtick works: far from trying to escape, I wanted to take Trav home and show him my Star Wars toy collection. In a tiny space, his head virtually butting the ceiling, Nash pulled off a great show before a tiny but appreciative audience.

After a very slightly shaky start, it reached masterful heights. And it’s not hard to imagine him filling a room much, much, bigger.

Star rating: ****
Cathy Osmond – Herald Sun 2011

2011 Good Grief – Chortle

In this unapologetically autobiographical hour, Trav Nash explores his childhood to show how it helped form the adult he has become. For a debut show it certainly ticks all the boxes of appeal – high energy delivery, plenty of amusing lines, lots of interesting ideas – but it is the underlying logic that prevents it from being a brilliant show.

The main thrust of this performance is that Nash is a free spirit rebelling against his conservative parents; a noble and valid stance to take. He describes all the injustices that he had to endure, which in the eyes of a child were certainly huge, life changing issues. The problem is that revisiting these memories in hindsight, he still seems to have some resentment that time hasn’t eroded.

While he attempts to pass himself off as a kooky character that makes mountains out of molehills – and there may be an inkling of irony behind his motives – he doesn’t quite push it far enough to allow us to suspend our disbelief. Instead he comes across as just a brat who had a comfortable life.

That said, he has created a show full of great ideas and engaging stories. Material covering the innocence of childhood provides plenty of nostalgic laughs as he references many familiar cultural items most people hold dear. His parent’s eccentricities are exaggerated to great effect and other authorities are given a cheeky retort.

He is a dynamic performer who has an air of over-eagerness about his delivery. This occasionally trips him up verbally but he manages to keep it together and get this production flowing smoothly. He gets so worked up that you can almost see steam pouring from his ears; it’s highly animated and amusing to watch but you may also feel concerned for his well-being.

Nash certainly has a way with words, using colourful analogies that take some lateral thinking to get your head around. He adds a touch of whimsy to his lines to exaggerate his observations to make them things of unique beauty.

There are meaningful messages about everyone getting along and striving for a sense of belonging running throughout the hour. These nudge the boundary of preaching at times but Nash’s enthusiastic cheerleading keeps us smiling.

Colin Flaherty
Chortle 2011

2011 Good Grief – Laugh Track

If every stand-up routine were as wildly verbose as the brick-of-anecdotes-to-your-face style of Melbourne comedian Trav Nash, one gets the sense the craft would either sky rocket to new heights of popularity or collapse like a sick dog in a gutter, saved for brave souls with insatiable appetites for loud and offbeat storytelling.

In his new show Good Grief Nash has finessed his charmingly geeky pop culture obsessed personality and matched it with the nous of a comedian clearly well practised in working small rooms that do not need (but always have) a microphone to project his booming voice, which is typically pitched somewhere between outrage, shock and bemusement. But it isn’t hard to picture Nash performing in big rooms in front of large and adoring audiences.

Nash begins Good Grief with the announcement that what we will see and hear will be all about — and for — himself. The audience have purchased entry into a one man counselling session in which the star of the show more or less identifies himself as both a rabid froth from the mouth fruitcake and the only person capable of rescuing his sanity.

Good Grief presents a stuffed trough of memories and pop culture observations that Nash feasts on with the dauntless energy of a starving feral pig, and that energy is very much infectious. The show consists largely of reflections about growing up, such as a bit focusing on his toy collection (Nash is livid when he reflects on a transformers toy that turns merely into a rock – what marketing genius was responsible for that?) and his parents’ foibles and follies, such as his mother’s collection of dolls and his discovery of a doll without a face, which he uses as one of many reasons to draw a cranked to 11 “what’s the deal with…?” response and vent wild-eyed outrage.

The more prolonged stories tend to be stream of consciousness rants delivered with gusto, and refreshingly devoid of the dry self-referential techniques that often blunt the sharpness of contemporary comedians. Nash in fact is the antithesis of dry comedy; his brand is wet, slippery and fluid, a verbal goo that flows from his gums and sticks to the audience.

Small stories break out of larger narratives to occupy substantial pockets of time, and just when you think the original tale has been relegated to the dust bin Nash inevitably finds a bridge back to it. This structure creates a circular energy that will win audiences over with its natural flow or, if the wrong crowds are gathered, clang in the ears of punters who prefer more staccato, compartmentalised comedy. If you want broad, straight-up, conventional clean-cut humour this show is not for you. However, playing it broad and homogenizing his routine would likely serve a death blow to Nash’s natural eccentricities, which flow through the show as effortlessly and impressively as any comedian you’re likely to see at this year’s festival.

Perhaps Nash’s greatest achievement is building a performance that manages the tough feat of being earnest and personable while coming on like a sock full of pennies to the nads.

Quirky, original and very funny, Good Grief is a hoot, and at 12 bucks a ticket no one can complain about the price.

Luke Buckmaster
Laugh Track – 2011

2006 Best Of Adelaide

Turning up to the lucky dip grab bag Best of Adelaide Comedy is just after work (as much of the audience did) proved a rather strange experience.

It’s a tough gig working a crowed just out of work on a Tuesday at six o’clock with only one drink under their belt to ease them into good time mode.

Jason Chong, Trav Nash, Jason Pestle and Ben Darsow did their damn best.

Chong the MC and Pestle are stars of the moment; Chong on Nova, Pestle as the night’s holder of the Legend’s Spot.

While Darsow has nice line in self deprecating comedy, Chong’s fantastic kung-fu like tales of life as Australasian boy make you wish he was in his own comic version of the series and Pestle’s transformation of the fart joke into a tennis like sport is truly original, the night belonged to the guy I think is the next big thing, Trav Nash.

The world of Trav Nash is a surreal, very scary blend of childhood fantasies and nasty adult proclivities that have their genesis in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and the Golden Arches of McDonalds.

Nash’s candy coated tales with horror filled centres come across as a kind of proto punk-emo like revenge fantasy enthusiastically told with a glass of white in hand. You want to run. You wonder what drugs he’s on – not that you’d try ‘em but you sure can’t pull yourself away from taking it all in.

David O’Brien
dBmagzine 2006

2007 Lost The Plot Review

Rhino Room Comedy and extreme body-piercing

Adelaide will never look quite the same again after an evening with mild-mannered crazy Trav Nash.

Some of his best material links local landmarks with characters and situations from the city’s underbelly but the fun doesn’t stop there.

A projection screen with dot points takes the audience on a nutty excursion into how the mind works with a Rorschach test and an amusing but over long home movie.

Then there’s the surprise appearance of extreme body-piercing freak show artist Mr Tetanus. There’s a point to his presence but you have to ask whether it’s reasonable for an audience expecting a night of stand-up comedy to be confronted by his grotesque, stomach-churning displays.

Nash ends singing along to a curiously affecting version of What the World Needs Now is Love.

He’s a subterranean artist in control of his material but he could be in danger of losing the plot.