The view of the South Fremantle Football Club’s oval lent an unexpectedly exciting atmosphere to lining up at Rock Rover. The ghosts of punters past lingered in a way that you only get from an empty stadium. With all the jokes from the acts about the venue being a football club as well as the regular interruptions from a next level creaky door as people went to the bathroom aside, Rock Rover was a great venue for Perth Comedy Festival’s Freo jaunt, with plenty of space, comfy seating and importantly, a good, well-stocked bar.
The showcase consisted of six acts, of which the first three were international and the final three Australian. Host for the evening was the hilarious Tahir Bilgic, who built a great rapport with a responsive crowd with his light, familiar humour. His banter provided the perfect palate cleanser in between a very diverse set of acts.
First up we had England’s Jimmy McGhie, who assured us that although he was a “little bit posh”, he wasn’t “properly posh”, as he peppered the crowd with his dry, sometimes controversial humour – even throwing a pretty decent Aussie accent into the mix occasionally. This was my favourite act of the night. Cynical, biting, hilarious.
McGhie set a pretty high bar for his fellow Brit Sean McLoughlin, and the highly acclaimed Chortle Award nominee didn’t disappoint, despite calling Australia “feral” and getting a bit upset that the crowd were not familiar with the game two-up, which took the wind out the sails of one of his jokes a bit. His almost angry, self-deprecating act was hilarious. A definite must-see of the festival.
Canada’s Mark Forward, the final of the international acts, bombarded with oddness and plenty of laughs. Opinionated, passionate about his policies on how old humans should be allowed to get before they’re put down (100), Forward raged while the audience laughed their asses off.
Cassie Workman (pictured above) was the first Aussie act. Slightly awkward, but in a pleasant, friendly way, Workman’s frank delivery of her experience as a trans woman was both funny and touching, her magnetic voice as engaging as the stories she had to tell.
Up next, mullet and all, came the glorious Aaron Gocs, talking us through his experience as a single father with two young daughters. Admitting to “doing a bit of crime at the self-serve checkout” and his love of drive-through takeaways, Gocs’ self-effacing, bumbling Aussie ‘blokeness’ comes across as relatable and the crowd loved him.
Nazeem Hussain closed the night out with legit hilarity, as the ‘halal consultant’ for I’m a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here! talked about his experience as a new father and being a Muslim living in Australia. If McGhie was a strong start to the night, Hussain was the perfect finisher.
Overall, the showcase was a delightful degustation of what the Perth Comedy Festival has to offer, and every single one of the comedians, as diverse as they were, seemed to be a hit with the crowd at Rock Rover.