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I caught my first San Francisco Fringe Festival shows tonight, and as promised here's a review. It may seem strange for an Australian in America to see the Kiwi Stand-Up Experience first when there's so much American stuff on offer, but I missed these guys during the Melbourne Comedy Festival in April and was keen to catch them this time around. Here's the review I sent in for the Fringe website.

An Australian Reviews the Kiwi Stand-Up Experience

Mark Scott and Mike Loder have appeared in over a dozen fringe festivals this year before coming to San Francisco. Their format is simple—taking turns to deliver half an hour of stand-up each—but it works well. A few of their opening night jokes, based on their touring experiences in Australia and Canada, were a little lost on the audience—apart from the Australian with Canadian in-laws laughing alone in the third row—so you may not hear the ones about curling and funnel-web spiders during the rest of their run. But they're skilled comics, knowing when to ditch a gag and move onto the next, and when they hit a good one they had the audience right behind them. A few interjections were skillfully parried in the nicest possible way; Mike and Mark were, above all else, bloody good company for an hour.

My personal highlights were Mike Loder's impression of a shark phoning an airline with suggestions for inflight safety equipment, and Mark Scott's references to the 'deadly sharks, gnashing of teeth' in Australian waters. I notice that both of these highlights involve sharks, which is not a complete representation of the show (more a representation of yours truly); for the more sensitive among us, there were also some fine gags about kittens, and the house-redecorating applications thereof. Scott's tribute song about JFK Jr. was a hit, and he even got the crowd singing along with the follow-up about Di and Dodi.

All in all, these Kiwis are well worth your time. And remember, eight of your strong American dollars are enough to feed and clothe a comedian for a week in our Antipodean part of the world, so give generously.

(Actually, that was the review I was going to send. Then I saw that all the other reader reviews were about a paragraph each, tops. So I sent in a heavily-abridged version.)

I had a quick chat with them at the end of the night and ended up telling them about San Francisco rents, which are even scarier than deadly sharks, gnashing of teeth. They'll be touring the clubs in London later this year after a spell at the Dublin Fringe, so if you're in either of those areas (or SF until 9/17) keep an eye out for them.

After the Kiwis I also went along to the Original Action Pack, an Oakland improv group. Having done a bit of Theatresports in my time, I know how fiendishly hard this can be, and they handled the challenge well, giving us jokes about the Leaning Tower of Australian Pisa (the Olympics must be weighing heavily on American minds) and a mime impersonation of bathing in cream while torturing a gerbil on a rack. Nothing earth-shattering—and thank God for that, this is San Francisco—but fun.

First published in Funny Ha Ha, 8 September 2000.

Walk Back West