Review: Uncompetent

5 years ago
Til Knowles

With a show title like Uncompetent, it is with a little trepidation that the audience climb the stairs to the Tuxedo Cat late in the evening. Once inside the small yet packed room, Oliver Coleman and Emil Freund appear on stage, dressed in white shirts and ties, armed with clipboards. The pair are determined to do their research and make the best show possible for this particular audience.


The market research aspect is less of a premise and more of a framing device. It solidly sets the show’s tone and pace – somewhat unexpected and very rapid, respectively, as it turns out. Uncompetent is a tightly woven and performed show. While occasionally cheekily self-aware, the duo never fall back on that well-worn bit about their own supposed incompetence – they’re ‘uncompetent’ at the surface and titular levels only. Freund and Coleman don’t hesitate for a moment, except to let a punchline sink in. The stage is small, but their movements are large and well coordinated. There are a handful of well used props, a little bit of singing, and so, so much energy.

The content of the jokes themselves ranges from absurd versions of the familiar to the straight up hypothetical, all pulled together by the notion that the duo are giving the audience what they want. In general, an audience at a comedy show want to laugh, and Coleman & Freund deliver happily.

Their Melbourne International Comedy Festival write up compares them to Woody Allen & the Marx Brothers, and another review places them in the tradition of Monty Python, comparisons that do little more than place Coleman & Freund in the grand tradition of sketch comedy that’s weird, smart, and physical. Which, to be fair, is exactly where they belong.

Every festival, people recommend you see one show by artists you’ve never heard of. If you haven’t done it yet (and you hadn’t heard of Coleman & Freund before this review), Uncompetent is a safe bet. It seems trite to say that the duo are ‘one to watch’, but they really are. And by ‘one to watch’, I mean you should go and buy a ticket, and watch their show.

Uncompetent is on at the Tuxedo Cat until the 5th of April. Tickets range between $15 – $20, and are available from the Tuxedo Cat box office or the MICF website. 

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