Dancing terrorists and church chaos: Just another day at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for UK duo

April 11, 2012

Culture & Events, Melbourne

They’ve given audiences lycra, satirical contemporary dance and the overwhelming urge to clap and bounce along to their parody of dancing terrorists… Now UK comedy duo Tom Roden and Pete Shenton from The New Art Club have hung up their leotards to return to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with their new show. We catch up with them to find out what makes them laugh about travel through Australia…


The New Art Club will be performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2012

Q. Your new show is pitched as a rampage through the English countryside. Now you’re Melbourne regulars will you be coming up with a show through the Australian bush?

The show is based on a true story about two villages in Cambridgeshire.  One is called Meldreth and the other is called Melbourn.  No ‘e’.  We thought this coincidental detail might be enough to gain some local interest without having to pander to the Australians by changing the word pounds for dollars etc.  But if it doesn’t work out we will almost certainly be returning with our hilarious take on the Crocodile Dundee story ‘Paul Hogan ate my hamster’. We’ve not actually been outside of Melbourne so we wouldn’t consider making something about the outback as we don’t even know what it is. It sounds like something that someone from Yorkshire would call their back garden, as in “ere, our Keith would you go out back and get t’shovel from t’shed”. I’m not sure that there really is an outback.  I’ve been in Australia for over 7 weeks now and I still haven’t even seen one of your so called marsupials. I’m beginning to wonder if this is all just a fiction.  Show me something with a pouch Australia.

Q. Chaos in the church and dancing terrorists. Sounds dark. Does Melbourne get British humour?

 So far, so good.   Its not really dark, it’s more silly and a bit arty.  Today a man stopped Tom and me in the street and told us that he’d been coming to the comedy festival for the last ten years and ours was the best show he’d ever seen.  I don’t know for sure that he was from Melbourne and I didn’t ask him exactly how many shows he’d been to see over that time.   But that is at least some evidence that Melbourne gets New Art Club’s version of British (I’m not particularly nationalistic so…) humour.

Q. What can audiences expect from your new show?

The new show is an interactive comedy show.  We tell a story and play a series of games with the audience, it all adds up to something that makes perfect sense and is broadly about conflict.    The audience are part of the action.  So they should expect to get involved in a lovely way that’s not about being nasty towards anyone and is all about telling a story in a funny, delightful and engaging way.   They should also expect to see two men talking, shouting, singing, moving about and doing one and a half funny dances. They also get to witness what we’re calling experimental physical beat-boxing and others are calling making funny noises whilst moving in odd ways.

Q. Where do you head when you’re not onstage?

Today I spent the afternoon in a sand pit on the park playing with Alex Horne’s children,  which was really nice – though I got a lot of sand in my shoes.

We went to see The Cats v The Hawks on our day off on Monday, which was extremely exciting.   We had decided to support Geelong as we were informed that they were out of town Bogans who had come good.  That seemed to reflect our lifestyle choices.  Although I still don’t really know what a Bogan is; I suspect it to be a somewhat anti-working class term like Chav in the UK, which aims to demonise poor and disenfranchised people.   Is this true Australians? You seem to be very liberal with this term which is, ironically, rather illiberal of you.

Mainly we sit in our apartment working, trying to make funny things funnier or hanging around with other comedians attempting an air of nonchalance and unconcern with being funny whilst simultaneously being so hilarious – just in our every day banter type shizzle – that they feel like if only they could be funny and cool like we are then their lives would be complete and they wouldn’t have to go on stage and beg for strangers to love them.

Q. What do you think of Melbourne?

I think Melbourne is a groovy place to be.   I have found Melburnians to be very hospitable and friendly folk.

The other day I went out to Carlton and sat in someone’s kitchen and drank white wine.  That was a nice dose of homely normality.

Q. Favourite Aussie joke?

Pretty much anything that Greg Fleet says makes me laugh.   I also saw Felicity Ward last night and she is brilliant and funny.

I don’t know any jokes but I do think its funny when Australians say…. [sadly readers, this was too rude to print].


 See The New Arts Club new show:

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival runs from 28 March 2012 – 22 April 2012.

Book tickets at comedyfestival.com.au

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