3 States of Comedy is a split bill show at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival that raises the question: which state is the best? Given that there are only three states in the running, it seems a little unfair, but then the whole thing turns out to be a little biased. It’s a very loose theme really, none of the acts are particularly heavy with location-based humour.
Opening act Gabe Hogan represents New South Wales. Hogan is friendly and likeable, but her obvious nerves and awkwardness often get in the way of her delivery, making otherwise solid jokes fall flat. The audience is sympathetic, but they don’t overcompensate. Hogan draws quite a few chortles but no bursts of out and out laughter. After a few more shows perhaps Hogan’s confidence will be bolstered enough for her to churn out her material to greater effect.
Geoff Setty is the Western Australian act in 3 States of Comedy. A one liner comic, Setty throws joke after joke at the audience. Only about fifty percent of them stick, and Setty bristles at the crowd’s response. Interestingly, the material with the longer, two line set ups is more effective. There’s an aggressiveness to the act, both on the part of Setty and the audience. When a joke doesn’t land, Setting makes a point of blaming the audience for not understanding it. It’s a mildly effective strategy when done once or twice, but he returns to it repeatedly. The crowd seem to bark their laughter response. It makes for an uneasy atmosphere which clearly effects Setty and throws him off further. The strength of one liners sets is the extreme variation from one joke to another, leaving plenty of room for surprises that can draw the audience back in.
Evan Hocking is, effectively, the headliner of the evening, representing Victoria. A fixture at North Melbourne venue the Comic’s Lounge, Hocking is a blokey comedian with a well refined set. He complements his storytelling with physicality, unafraid to move about the small stage and use gesture to emphasise punch lines. Hocking’s material is both relatable and personal, from his successful family members to his childhood. The laughter flows from the audience in waves of relief. Unfortunately, the solidity and length of Hocking’s set are the hallmarks of a good opener for a much larger act, not a headliner.
The trio’s strength is their ability to craft a joke, but its not quite enough to carry a whole hour. If you spot their names in a line up, something like 5 for 5 at 5, head along to see them there.
3 States of Comedy is on at the Downstairs Lounge at the Mercure Hotel at 6pm until April 19th. Tickets cost around $20 and are available online or at the door.