Culture + Events: The Comedy Store Local Showcase @ Zoo Bar

The Comedy Store Local Showcase @ Zoo Bar Leichhardt

Tuesday, 4th August

Featuring: Dave Bloustein, George Masseur, Bryan Chandler, Bruce Griffiths, Jack Druce and Smart Casual

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Comedy is making a come back. After having nearly died out in the Sydney scene in the early 2000’s, the gentle trickle (and often roar) of laughter is becoming more and more common at venues across the city. Whilst not the comedy headquarters of Australia, Sydney now has its fair share of live comedy nights and of course a spiritual home in The Comedy Store located at The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park. It’s the Comedy Store team that is behind the Local Comedy Showcase at Zoo Bar Leichhardt each Tuesday night, an event which aims to bring the best home-grown and a sprinkling of top notch international comics into the suburbs of Sydney. Having featured such established comics such as Steve Hughes and Tahir as well as a raft of up and coming talent, The Comedy Store Local Showcase is certainly living up to that promise.

Having been to two previous side splitting outings, it was not a tough sell to brave a cold northerly wind and venture out on this Tuesday night. With a crew consisting mainly of comedy virgins but with a couple of old hands thrown in as well, we arrive at Zoo Bar about fifteen minutes before the scheduled start and have time for a quick cocktail (pricey for the end result) before being ushered inside and to our table. It’s a $10 cover charge but it includes some really nice pizza and is quite good value considering a ticket to The Comedy Store or Sydney Comedy Festival will easily cost you double that or more.

The night begins with our MC Dave Bloustein who has the unenviable task of breaking the ice. He has a nice casual demeanor but some of the jokes miss their mark. He tells us it’s his first gig in Leichhardt (and presumably outside of the Eastern Suburbs) and it shows as a lot of his humour is very localised and misses its mark with a mixed Inner West crowd. Still it’s a solid effort carried on some casual charm.

The first act is Leichhardt’s own George Masseur who we have the privilege of catching up with for a quick chat at the end of the evening.  I’ve seen his set before but it still generates quite a few laughs and our comedy virgins respond vigorously. There is an honesty and vulnerability to his comedy, although an hidden behind a carefully constructed veil of macho bravado. He creates characters well on stage and has the audience easily relating with tales of interracial friendships and overbearing parents. In our chat he reveals that he has only performed on stage four times before but comes from a sketch comedy background having previously worked with the guys from Fat Pizza. He also lets slip that he doesn’t get a lot of other comedians and thinks they are funny without necessarily getting their jokes and so bases his comedy purely on his own experiences in everyday life. It’s simple stuff but its works well.  It’s easy to see he’s passionate about making people laugh and tonight George Masseur is the Rocky Balboa of Zoo Bar, although you can’t help but get the feeling that Dolph Lundgren might get the better of him.

Second act Bryan Chandler fails to make much of an impression in a short set but the final comic of the first act, Bruce Griffiths definatly makes an impression.  He’s a strange looking man, not unlike the long haired Umbilical Brother, and spews forth a scatter gun delivery of one liners. It’s a unique presentation and takes some serious balls to stand behind the mic and back your one-liners to win over an audience more used (and comfortable) with conversational comedy. Best known as a writer for most of the top comedy radio and tv in the country, unfortunately he uses some of his best material first (including “If you could have any superpower what would it be?  …  China”) and his set losses momentum quickly.

After a fifteen-minute interval we are back for our two headliners. First up is the teenager Jack Druce who seems a little bit intimidated by his headliner billing and passes without much notice. Final act of the night is comic brothers in arms Ben and Nick Mattick aka Smart Casual. With a comedy derived from “teenage mutant ninja turtles, childhood and pre-sleep arguments”, they are riding the folk comedy bandwagon (a la Flight of The Concords) for all its worth.  On stage they present as one part sunglass at night wearing, stylish guitar wielding, knights of the comic round table and one part flannelette clad, bed haired and hobbit bearded vagrants – but that may also describe the boys themselves. The songs are not terribly memorable but serve their purpose and soon the guys have Zoo Bar giggling and toe tapping. We catch up with them afterward and when asked why they are in comedy and not a real band, they reply “because musicians suck dick and we wanted to suck tit.” Its juvenile boy humour at its finest and every answer for the rest of the interview is quickly followed with the half afterthought, half pleaded request to please not print that. With day jobs as teacher’s aids to protect, we have begrudgingly obliged.

The Comedy Store Local Showcase at Zoo Bar can be a little hit and miss, but with the promise of more big name Australian and international headliners to come and the chance to catch Australia’s next comedy sensations whilst they are still cutting their teeth, it sure beats Tuesday night TV.

You will love this if: you’re in a need of a laugh- maybe not a full belly laugh but atleast a giggle.

You will hate this if: you really don’t find other people funny.

The Comedy Store Local Showcase is on every Tuesday night at Zoo Bar, Norton Street, Leichhardt (upstairs, front of Norton Plaza). Bookings are essential so email [email protected]

Images (L-R): Smart Casual, George Masseur and Bruce Griffiths

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