Comedy reviews: Best of Comedy Zone Asia, David O’Doherty, MICF

A sample of Asian flavours and styles and a veteran of laughter-making.

Best of Comedy Zone Asia, Arts Centre Melbourne

Using the superlative ‘best’ to describe any art form is problematic and this includes the inexact science of trying to make people laugh. Best of Comedy Zone Asia offers up five comedians, including the effervescent MC Fakkah Fuzz (Singapore), Sonali Thakker (India), Anirban Dasgupta (India), Sakdiyah Ma’ruf (Indonesia) and Douglas Lim (Malaysia). The quality of the delivery and the content of this mixed platter is mixed, with some jokes landing solidly while others not so deftly. Because of the pandemic causing disruption and postponement of touring many performers were denied an audience and this may explain why some of the material in this show feels a bit untested.

Nonetheless, there are some good chuckles to be had from each comic as they range widely in topics: from the responsibilities of, and detours from, being a ‘good’ Muslim and being raised in conservative Indonesia, to the generation gaps between mother and daughter, the joys of new fatherhood, creative censorship in India and the rivalry between Singapore and Malaysia. Of the five, Lim is the most accomplished; he brings an energy and confidence to his act that the audience picked up on and rewarded.

If you don’t want to commit to one (unknown) comedian for an hour, it’s prudent to see a collective show such as this one. This way you’re able to have an entrée-sized taster of different flavours and styles.

Best of Comedy Zone Asia will be performing at the MICF at the Arts Centre Melbourne until 23 April 2023. Tickets: $25-$35

David Doherty, Forum

That Irish comic David O’Doherty managed to fill the not-inconsiderable space of the Forum Theatre is testament to his popularity and the fact that after over 20 odd years of making comedy, he is a sure-bet with crowds keen to once again see this gregariously shambolic man with his ‘tiny piano’.

David O’Doherty. Photo: Supplied.

Dressed once again like an over-sized toddler with sneakers and cap, and with his keyboards balanced on his knee, O’Doherty immediately gets the audience on side when he ambles on stage and announces, ‘Let’s fricking do it!’ Yes, after facing the usual COVID mess-up with performing routines (Pfizer, not laughter, was the best medicine he reminds us), he’s thrilled to be back doing what he does best, even though he does express puzzlement about the longevity of prevailing in his chosen craft.

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O’Doherty moves between spoken word and song as he regales us with mini tales about his jazz musician father, his emoji-illiterate mother, attempted bike and identity theft, and his pet peeves (celebrity chefs, vaping among many others). His routine may seem rambling and an inconsequential stream-of-consciousness at times, but he’s too much of a consummate professional to leave things to chance. There’s real skill beneath the apparent laissez-faire delivery.

David O’Doherty: Tiny Piano Man will be performing at the MICF at the Forum until 23 April 2023. Tickets: $32-$43

Thuy On is Reviews Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her first book, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was published by University of Western Australia Press (UWAP). Her next collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Twitter: @thuy_on