Let’s Get Practical! Live is less comedy than it is theatre. It’s satirical and absurd, a sharp dive into the disintegrating mind of a toxically anxious tonight show host. This isn’t just watching a man’s mind unravel, it’s sitting in it while it does.
The second offering from the Very Good Looking Initiative focuses on Elliott Gee as a washed up, strung out tonight show host trying to return to the stage/screen after a nervous breakdown. Oranged to oblivion in a bright blue suit with slick black hair, Gee and his glittery backup dancers are like bizarro game show hosts, sans contestants to remind them of reality. Gee perfectly encapsulates toxic masculinity and its damaging effects on the male psyche. It’s nihilistic, surreal parody.
Fair warning, stay away from this show if you don’t like that grating white noise that so often gets played as a shortcut to tension in independent theatre. The tech cues are excellent, as sound is deployed to slowly render Gee’s mental state askew. Likewise, the costumes capture a sense of glitz and filth. Honor Wolff and Patrick Durnan Silva’s characters seek to subvert their own side-plots, twisting repetitions into something uncanny.
The Very Good Looking Initiative self-describe as ‘trolls of independent theatre’, so it’s little wonder the show makes more sense (thematically, not narratively) if you think of it less as a comedy festival show and more as a Fringe show, which is where it first debuted. It’s not so much dark as it is chaotic, the frantic attempts of a man trying to return to something, anything he once believed in. If you like a bit more theatre in your comedy and can laugh in the face of anxiety, Let’s Get Practical! Live is on at the Malthouse now.
Let’s Get Practical! Live is on at 9:30pm at the Malthouse Theatre until 22 April as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tickets are available at the box office or via the MICF website.