Comedy Review: Jess Karamjeet: GRIEF-SEX-RACE, Club Voltaire, MICF 2024

A 30-something, mixed-race, bisexual immigrant (with guitar) lets us into her world.

Evoking Neighbours nostalgia on a journey through dreams and loss and several intersections of identity, Jess Karamjeet’s show GRIEF-SEX-RACE is intimate and affecting  – a testament to the healing power of laughter. 

Karamjeet seamlessly holds the energy of the room despite unexpectedly needing to switch up her set. Due to a family emergency, Sophie Gibson, the other half of the duo, is no longer performing in GRIEF-SEX-RACE. For the last few nights of this production, Karamjeet performs a solo version of the show, also known as Redundant Neighbours Writer Does Stand-Up (MICF 2023) and Redundant (New Zealand International Comedy Festival 2023 & Auckland Pride 2024). 

Still working with the flavours of the original show, plus some additional treats, Karamjeet breaks up her candid and well crafted stand-up with a handful of original songs sung with guitar. From songs exploring her invisible disability, fibromyalgia, internal physio and having a ‘tight-ass’ as a medical condition, to the competing dimensions present in mixed-race people, Karamjeet breaks down the challenges and awkwardness of deeply personal experiences. 

Grounding the show in key facets of her identity, Karamjeet slips between the ways that her queerness, disability and her mixed-race Indian-Scottish-Irish heritage crossover and emerge in broader narratives of grief, relationships and her writing career. 

Through a string of weaving vignettes, we follow Karamjeet through Britain, across Asia, and then to Australia and New Zealand. While backpacking, and exploring romantic and sexual adventures and identity dilemmas, she is chasing one dream: to write for the iconic long-running television series Neighbours.

Karamjeet finds that Tall Poppy Syndrome is rampant in New Zealand and Australia, despite the narrative Neighbours feeds young British girls like her growing up: that young women move away from little Ramsay Street to chase their big dreams. It’s heartwarming to watch Karamjeet’s dream unfold as she makes it to the Neighbours writers’ room and works on boundary-pushing narrative arcs.

While this version of the show did not hold an extensive exploration of grief, Karamjeet tenderly guides us through the passing of her father, providing a soft opening to sit with grief and consider a sense of connection post-life. 

Read: Comedy review: Sarah Keyworth, My Eyes Are Up Here, Town Hall, MICF 2024

Jess Karamjeet creates an intimate and laughter-inducing hour where the audience is wrapped up in her tender story, dipped in grief and soaked in humour that is honest, joyful, unafraid.

Tickets: $21-$26

Jess Karamjeet: GRIEF-SEX-RACE is performing at Club Voltaire, until 18 April 2024 as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF 2024).

Monique Nair is a Melbourne/Naarm based writer of Indian-Italian-Polish heritage. She is a screenwriter for My Melbourne (2024, Mind Blowing Films, Screen Australia) and co-edited Mascara Literary Review’s debut anthology, Resilience (2022), published with Ultimo Press. An alumni of the West Writers program with Footscray Community Arts, her writing has been published in Kill Your Darlings, Mascara Literary Review, Voiceworks, Peril, and Swim Meet Lit Mag. She has performed or presented at Emerging Writers’ Festival and National Young Writers’ Festival.