Stuart Daulman’s A Very Good Year is a late-night mixture of crooning and comedy. Gently parodying the late night jazz bar, a form that feels more like a dream than a memory to younger audience members, Daulman’s latest show draws thick laughs from the audience and a surprisingly lovely singing voice from the host.
A member of sketch group Fancy Boy, many will know Daulman from the troupe’s daring and bombastic ABC series. Daulman’s comedic sensibility is a little softer here, as his material leans more towards uncanny comedy rather than the out-and-out outrageous. The jokes here are often cheesy pun based two liners or trite political observations that draw laughs less from the initial groan-worthy content and more from the structure of it – the repetition, the alteration, and the over-exaggeration. Some of the audience members are clued in on the nature of Daulman’s comedy from the start; others leave somewhat bewildered at the end of the hour.
The songs are all well performed by Daulman and his pianist, with occasional accompaniment from a special guest. They’re songs of yesteryear that often start with or contain a single gag before slipping into a more serious rendition.
There is a thin through-line, a retrospective of 2016 similar to the off-handedly topical premises of the late night variety shows which A Very Good Year homages. For the most part though, it’s a string of jokes and old standards, built for the comfort of the 11 pm crowd.
A Very Good Year is on at 11 pm at the Melbourne Town Hall on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until 22 April. Tickets are available online or at the festival box office.