DAVE HUGHES’S ‘RIDICULOUS’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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On Friday the 13th of March, 2020 I was on assignment for Scenestr magazine at the Brisbane Comedy Festival. I was there to see famous stand-up comedian Dave Hughes.

Earlier in the week the World Health Organisation had labelled the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic. Italy hit with several cases had shut down the country to having people only going to work. France shut down children attending school.

Friday morning the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had been urging people to attend the weekend football. By afternoon he was saying that come Monday no large crowds of 500 or more could gather in public.

A member of his cabinet, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton had tested positive for the virus. The Formula 1 in Melbourne had been cancelled as had the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Wall Street had seen the biggest falls in stocks in one day of trading since the crash of 1987.

Heading into the weekend there was no doubt we were about to experience an economic recession, see our country shut down travel, business and events as much as possible. The most vulnerable in our community to the disease are also the most vulnerable to the pressures that will come to supermarket stocks, health care support or temporary employment.

We’re in for some rough days ahead and so it was some comfort to find quite a few people out at the Brisbane Comedy Festival ready to laugh and to see Dave Hughes a stand-up as recognisable and reliable as any stand-up in this country.

Hughesy made us laugh, laugh about the virus, laugh at ourselves, laugh at him and laugh at our lives. It was a nice reminder of how we need to face the days ahead. With support for our fellow humans and with a sense of hope and optimism. It was a privilege to attend and you can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/comedy/dave-hughes-review-brisbane-comedy-festival-2020-20200316

Karen and I caught up with some friends beforehand and enjoyed our beloved snack bar menu pizzas from the Powerhouse. Then we were off to the Powerhouse Theatre, the largest venue at the Powerhouse reserved for big stars, like Hughesy, to perform.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

The following Monday, the Brisbane Comedy Festival was cancelled. In addition to big name comedians, there are a lot of shows and acts there that run on the smell of an oily rag with performers who sometimes work other jobs during the day. Such cancellations are going to provide them with significant challenges in the weeks ahead too but I know we all want to keep each other safe.

I hope you’re safe, I hope you are able to get toilet paper in your part of the world, I hope we treat each other right and help each other in the weeks ahead. I’ll try me best to do so.

-Lloyd Marken

SPEED: THE MOVIE, THE PLAY REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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On the 1st of March, 2020 I was lucky enough to be assignment with Scenestr magainzne to attend the latest production from Act/React theatre company. I’m a big fan you may have noted from my previous reviews of their productions Love/Hate Actually, Kiss of the Vampire Squid, Titanic: The Movie, The Play and last Christmas Die Hard: The Movie, The Play.

Interestingly enough this production made it’s debut years ago before all of these shows and before I had even heard of Act/React or was working as a freelance writer. It maybe the best one out of the lot of them, it was certainly fun to finally get to see it as part of this year’s Brisbane Comedy Festival.

Karen was unable to make it due to a sore back so I took a mate of mine. We certainly made the cute couple leading to us being asked by one of the performers during the show if we were a couple. We both shrugged and answered “Sure, why not?”. This led to an offer to come back to his place to enjoy some sandwiches. I later advised my mate proudly that I would bring the salami. He correctly pointed out that would make me the meat in the sandwich. While disembarking the bus I cheekily signalled to the performer to call me but alas the moment had passed.

It was a little bit of a shame to have Karen miss the show. At one moment I was asked to relay messages over the phone to ‘Keanu’ on how to defuse the bomb and my mate had his haircut commented on. I’m happy to report my friend had a good time and I was glad he could make it.

You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/comedy/speed-the-movie-the-play-review-brisbane-comedy-festival-2020-20200306

If you’re a local, definitely check them out, many shows have already sold out but there are a few tickets left.

-Lloyd Marken

 

AARON CHEN’S ‘MR CIGARETTE’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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The annual Brisbane Comedy Festival has kicked off and I was lucky to attend stand-up comedian Aaron Chen’s new show at the Turbine Studio, Brisbane Powerhouse on assignment for Scenestr.

I came across Chen last year when I attended After Hours and reviewed it for Weekend Notes. After Hours was hosted by Dusty Rich and featured artists with shows doing medleys or their best number or scene and stand-ups effectively doing a tight 5 set. That night Rhys Nicholson absolutely killed and was the best on the night but Chen caught my attention with his swagger commanding presence on stage milking laughs out of thin air on the sheer strength of his persona. So I was keen to see his show and am happy to report everything I thought of Aaron Chen after those five minutes last year remains true.

You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/comedy/aaron-chen-review-brisbane-comedy-festival-2020-20200226

My customary photos from the event I am sad to report are lacking because I left my phone at home. Thankfully Karen has stepped in and come to the rescue so there are some photos thanks to her. Hope you enjoy.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

100 POSTS PUBLISHED WITH SCENESTR

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The night of my first assignment for Scenestr magazine 21MAR207. Copyright Karen Marken.

Last Friday I reached a milestone with Scenestr magazine, I have now had 100 posts published with them online or in their printed copies on the street. This all started with a review I submitted to them of Hidden Figures that Karen had won tickets to see. The review was published 23 February, 2017.

Within a couple of months I realised if I wanted to make the most of my opportunities there I would have to put my hand up to do interviews. Despite having done this in the past at university I was still quite nervous when I did my first interview with the stars of Grease: The Arena Spectacular Meghan O’Shea and Drew Weston almost two years ago. Knowing it scared me made me confident it would be truly rewarding and that turned out to be true.

In 2018 there were 50 posts published online of my work, it is doubtful I will match that output moving forward, there are things I am currently pursuing away from Scenestr but I am grateful to continue my work for the biggest street press magazine in the country.

The opportunity Scenestr gives writers and how that flows onto the rest of the print industry is extraordinary. I hope to be working for them for a long time yet.

Of the 100 posts published, 10% were reviews of stand-up comedians and their shows, 29% were theatre reviews, 28% were film reviews, 32% were interviews and 1% were reviews of Cher concerts.

Allow me to indulge in pointing out some personal highlights such as interviewing DeAnne Smith, Ali McGregor, Palace Cinemas CEO Benjamin Zeccola, Gravity and Other Myths circus performer Jascha Boyce, theatre director Row Blackshaw, Cassie George, talking to director Clare Watson about Our Town, an interview with comedian Sammy J, and my cover story with SNL star Michael Che.

Going to the Young Australian Filmmakers Programme at Byron Bay Film Festival and talking to young director Cody-Cameron Brown about Don Ritchie, OAM, introducing my wife to the cast of Aladdin backstage, a dinner with Lauren Weisberger where my friend Karen B was also in attendance at the Brisbane Writers Festival, slugging back premium blended whisky and sliders at the Kingsman: The Golden Circle preview screening, attending the opening nights of the 2017 Cine Latino Film Festival, the 2018 Italian Film Festival, Brisbane International Film Festival 2018, taking Karen to see Cher last year in concert, having stand-up Tom Gleeson share my review of his show on Facebook.

Some of the best shows I saw were Circa’s Humans, seeing Love/Hate Actually debut at Wonderland 2017England by Tim Crouch at Metro Arts, seeing The Duke by Shon Dale-Jones, Randy Writes A Novel by Randy Feltface, Tim Ferguson’s A Fast Life On Wheels and my first assignment with Scenestr reviewing Queensland Ballet’s Raw.

If you’re been along with me for part of the journey I hope you have enjoyed the ride, I thank you for your support and I hope to continue with you by my side. Two years ago this milestone seemed very distant if even possible and it has been one of the great joys of my life to have had this happen to me at 36 when I was feeling that life was kind of passing me by. I feel very grateful to my editors for their support and knowledge and to all our readers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

http://scenestr.com.au/blog/Lloyd-Marken

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

 

TIM FERGUSON’S ‘A FAST LIFE ON WHEELS’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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Following ImproMafia‘s Heartfelt High on Tuesday night we next made plans to catch up with some friends on Saturday for the last round of After Hours and of course if we were going to do that then we decided we would attend Queensland Theatresports Championships the same night at 7:45pm. So on Saturday 23MAR2019 that’s exactly what we did. There were no pepperoni pizzas or chips with aioli though beloved they remain. We went up to the balcony and chatted with an airline employee from Hong Kong before the show began. I still marvel that this show is for free and it adds so much to the festival. One team, BCF, we’d seen compete two weeks earlier once again they were great as was everyone.

 

Afterwards I got some lemon, lime & bitters and sat down with Karen killing time. I ran into the talented sketch comedian Mark Lombard who confirmed with me that I had written the review of Brisburned@Work for Scenestr. He thanked me for the review and I congratulated him on the show. I enjoyed the exchange. You see performers around all the time at the Festival and I never quite know what to do but Mark did.

As we got closer to the time for After Hours our friends arrived and we went outside to the river to meet them. I talked up the highlight reel aspect of the first After Hours we saw but noted it could be different tonight and boy am I glad I added that disclaimer. We descended to the Turbine Studio that night and saw something more akin to what I was expecting the first time. Some comedian came out snorting and rubbing his nose before referencing he’d been drinking. Another felt he was dying and referenced that a fellow comedian Demi Lardner was laughing at him backstage while this happened. I don’t know if anybody was trying out rawer or edgier material for this particular show but if not, they were hardly conservative acts. Also with the festival wrapping up there were no cabaret shows trying to sell last show tickets, just comedians plying their trade. We saw Demi Lardner (energetic and brash – totally owning her set), Matt Stewart (the nicest and one of the funnier people on the night), Tom Ballard (the biggest name probably there that night and a solid closer although even he seemed to note there was a lot of anger in his bit). Blake Freeman (who does the kind of gross awkward humour that makes you nervous but kind of gets away with it because there’s something so likeable there). There were two more and I liked them but their names escape me. Dusty Rich was of course on hand to compere and came away the winner of the night doing some audience interaction with a big unit named Cammo. The only thing funnier for me was Ballard explaining where smashed avo comes from.  We stole off into the night again certainly having experienced an After Hours not as good as the first one we saw but still remaining a show we would be eager to see next year. In fact a strong had been made to see if more than once every year!

That left my assignment for Scenestr magazine the next day over at the Ithaca Auditorium in Brisbane City Hall at 5pm. If you’re of a certain age you know of the Doug Anthony All Stars, they were just before my time but I saw some old The Big Gig episodes on Foxtel in the 90s and heard them whispered about in awe. One member Paul McDermott became a big deal to me with a little show called Good News Week which was of my time.

A relative of mine had MS and I saw her fight it for two decades. I took part in the fundraising Moonlight Walks for MS along my city’s river in 2007, 2009 and 2010  thinking about her and many like her. Some of them taking part in the walk.

You see Tim Ferguson has MS, he’s 55 and he’s in a wheelchair. He was diagnosed in 1996 and went public in 2010. That was nine years ago when he walked with a cane. Diagnosis means one thing in terms of how things are going to end but that one thing is coming for us all. There was something deep and shared in Tim’s show. There was a little boy talking about his Dad, a rebel apologising, an young man passing on wise counsel, a sick man proving his virility, an old man looking forward to the future. I told Mark Lombard on Saturday night that Brisburned@Work was Karen’s favourite show at the festival and I was telling the truth. On Sunday night we left the auditorium and Karen turned to me and said “I have a new favourite.”

You can read my review here http://scenestr.com.au/comedy/tim-ferguson-review-brisbane-comedy-festival-2019-20190326

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr. is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

That concluded Brisbane Comedy Festival 2019, I had been on assignment 4 times with Scenestr, once for Weekend Notes and seen all up 11 shows. It has been quite a month and I feel really blessed and I thank you for coming along for the ride.

-Lloyd Marken

 

HEARTFELT HIGH REVIEW AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

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I have certainly been in full festival mode at this year’s Brisbane Comedy Festival.

Karen and I with her best friend saw Raven On Thursday night 14MAR2019 at the Brisbane Room in Brisbane City Hall. Raven On was a one woman production from Act/React starring Natalie Bochenski making peace with the impending end of the Game of Thrones. As a fan of Love/Hate Actually and Bochenski I eagerly awaited attending. Yet I found the show a little padded out and indulgent, missing the interplay and contrast with a fellow performer. Yet Bochenski remains one of the most entertaining and likeable presences you can find on stage. There were definitely highlights for me including a video of her Nan, a rap recap of the series that I hope goes viral , a gif involving David Bowie and an epic sword fight. Not to mention Bochenski herself, she’s kind of amazing. So I enjoyed it but thought it could have been even better yet despite my misgivings Karen and her friend were adamant it was a great show so there you go. Maybe there was something in the fact that I got excited when a poster for Independence Day appeared whereas they were more moved when Colin Firth’s performance in Pride and Prejudice got covered.

From there that Sunday we saw Queensland Theatresports Championships again at the Brisbane Powerhouse which was even better than last time if that is possible.

Then on Tuesday night I was on assignment for the first time for Weekend Notes to attend ImproMafia‘s latest show Heartfelt High a lampoon of all teen shows form the 1990s. It was a thrill to get to review the show for Weekend Notes and keen readers will observe I’ve seen some shows from those involved with ImproMafia. Lord of the Thrones, Animated! at Brisbane Comedy Festival 2018 and they present Queensland Theatresports Championships. Performers involved are also part of Act/React and The Shadow Collective. It’s fair to say I’m familiar with their work and I’m a fan. Opening night of Heartfelt High did not disappoint but I do hope for larger more boisterous crowds to be in attendance at subsequent shows. You can read my review here https://www.weekendnotes.com/heartfelt-high-impromafia-brisbane-comedy-festival/

Weekend Notes are a growing online magazine with a wealth of contributors based out of several cities across the United Kingdom, Australia and New York. Articles are leisure related and can include a wide variety of subjects from rainforest hikes to cultural festivals, from what hot new play is on at your underground theatre to a ultra trendy eatery. Writers are paid for their work based partly on how many views their articles get so please feel free to stop by and show some love.

-Lloyd Marken

 

AFTER HOURS REVIEW AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

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It was Saturday the 9th of March at the Brisbane Comedy Festival, and Karen and I were having a wonderful time. We had arrived mid afternoon on a sunny day, attended a performance of Brisburned@Work for Scenestr which Karen really enjoyed, taken in a session of Queensland Theatresports, run into some people we knew and really had a great time and had our fill of the tasty bar food. Yet the day was not yet over as we descended the stairs that led to the Turbine Studio.

The Turbine Studio a smaller more intimate venue is housed right next door right across the Visy Theatre on the same floor – the river level. Despite seeing some fantastic shows at their more glamourous cousin the Powerhouse Theatre I have to admit I have a soft spot for these two venues and maybe in particular the Turbine studio just because it tends feature shows or entertainers that are building towards something. I saw Nath Valvo at the Turbine Studio when he was big in Melbourne but growing his fanbase here, one of the first performances of Love/Hate Actually, Cassie George in There’s Something About Mary(s), the promising debut of the Grass Is Dead On The Other Side and so as I headed to see After Hours at the same venue it felt appropriate. By choosing to attend I was in on a secret, by staying later I was somehow more hardcore and more genuine than other audiences but little did I realise what a treat I was in for. You can read more of my thoughts here https://www.weekendnotes.com/after-hours-brisbane-comedy-festival/

Afterwards Karen and I headed off into the night to home and bed. It had been a good day spent at the Brisbane Comedy Festival 2019.

Weekend Notes are a growing online magazine with a wealth of contributors based out of several cities across the United Kingdom, Australia and New York. Articles are leisure related and can include a wide variety of subjects from rainforest hikes to cultural festivals, from what hot new play is on at your underground theatre to a ultra trendy eatery. Writers are paid for their work based partly on how many views their articles get so please feel free to stop by and show some love.

-Lloyd Marken