Comedy Review: Doggo by Alice Tovey, MICF

Self-deprecating and sassy comedy from a performer whose creativity shines through in the wickedly clever lyrics of her songs.

Alice Tovey’s Doggo is burlesque par excellence. It is burlesque, stand-up comedy and musical theatre combined, and delivers a punch. I went to the show hoping for endearing, rollicking comedy about dog parents and their beloved dogs, and I was not disappointed. However, the show went further – juxtaposing the foibles of humanity and canine-ity, and trying to make sense of everything from troublesome questions about career choices to existential questions about death.

Tovey’s comedy is self-deprecating and sassy. She brings glamour to the burlesque but parodies and subverts that glamour as well. Her musical talent is obvious. She has a powerful voice and her creativity shines through in the wickedly clever lyrics of her songs.

There are the elements that you would expect in music-hall burlesque but there is more – mock conversations with disapproving parents and grandparents, interrogation by a fearsome ‘Dog Judy’, and all-encompassing gender critique.

Tovey’s introspective commentary gives her comedy a therapeutic tinge. We hear about what it means to bond with beloved pets and then to eventually say goodbye to them. Tovey takes us through her childhood memories and then reimagines sorrowful memories of letting go of her childhood dog, and in this reimagining we process a multitude of emotions about letting go and crossing over to the other side. There is mirth and catharsis side by side. Tovey brings impressive emotional intelligence to her writing and performance.

The venue itself, The Butterfly Club, is something of a unique space, promoting artists whose work verges on the unconventional and alternative. It has a warm and inviting atmosphere, and seems to be a hub for many promising comedians and performers. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival and its partners have demonstrated tremendous skill in promoting such diverse performers across an amazing array of venues in Melbourne, overcoming the many challenges of last year and their ongoing impacts. It is heartening too to see the community response, and I hope Melbournians will make the most of the remaining days of the festival. 

4.5 stars: ★★★★☆

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
The Butterfly Club, Melbourne CBD
2-11 April
Written and performed by Alice Tovey

Arjun Rajkhowa
About the Author
Arjun Rajkhowa is a writer and academic who divides his time between Melbourne and the Pilbara.