Psychiatry, A Cure for Sanity?: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Maryanne Campbell’s stand-up routine - Psychiatry, A Cure for Sanity? part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival - questioning the effectiveness of medical treatment for psychological disorders makes a mockery of the mental health industry.
Psychiatry, A Cure for Sanity?:  Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Psychiatry, A Cure for Sanity?: Melbourne International Comedy Festival First of all, a warning to all those who are sensitive about depression and related disorders – this show probably isn’t for you. Maryanne Campbell’s stand-up routine - Psychiatry, A Cure for Sanity? part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival - questioning the effectiveness of medical treatment for psychological disorders makes a mockery of the mental health industry. Using her experience as a psychologist as the basis for her performance, Maryanne questions the modern notion of ‘sanity’ and whether medical treatments to bring people to the norm are actually necessary. Unfortunately this underlying premise is ultimately left unresolved and the audience is left floundering in the throes of an unconvincing argument while being bombarded with expletives in the process. The performance wavers between a psychology 101 lecture, sporadically filled with slides of random information, and a disgruntled piss-take of the profession Maryanne regards as encouraging mental disease. Whilst it is easy to target societies’ current obsession with psychological issues, Maryanne’s hodgepodge of factual information, spliced with deprecating comments about the her taste in men, interspersed with spontaneous vocal eruptions all culminate in an utterly lobotomising night out that will leave you straight-jacketed in horror at the fact that the speaker is actually a registered psychologist. With an over-reliance on her written notes during the delivery of the show, Maryanne’s performance smacks of unprofessionalism. The show also lacks a logical structure. One minute the audience is steered down the self-deprecating path of Maryanne impersonating herself on acid, while the next minute we are being asked to poke fun at Anthony Robbins’ penis extension. Use of technical psychobabble terms and acronyms also pops up in random places, which further bamboozles the audience. The comedic impact for the routine derives mainly from ridicule of an apparently hypocritical industry. However in attempting to deliver an absurd take the mental health debacle, Maryanne fails to deliver any material based on wit, pun, satire, or any of the things that actually make comedy work. Instead Maryanne comes across as far too aggressive and results in offending her audience rather than garnering any empathy. If laughter is the best medicine then the idea of a jaded psychologist psychoanalysing psychiatrics should be pure comedic gold and provide the opportunity to induce the audience into an euphoric state of self-imposed happiness. Unfortunately, this show had me scratching at the walls trying to escape the asylum I felt I had wandered into. The show’s saving grace is the length. Although it feels never-ending, the condensed timeframe of 35 minutes is hopefully not enough time to cause too much mental damage. However Maryanne has enlightened me on one fundamental point… beware of those who proclaim that they practice in curing the ‘insane’. Psychiatry, A Cure for Sanity?: Melbourne International Comedy Festival Date: 11 - 18 April Times: Tue - Sat 7.30pm Duration: 35 minutes Venue: Northcote Town Hall - Studio 2 189 High St, Northcote Prices: Full $25 Concession $15

Revelly Robinson

Thursday 16 April, 2009

About the author

Revelly Robinson is a playwright and novelist. Her debut science fiction novel Pangaea is available from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/415698