Bill Bailey - Tinselworm
As crowds of victorious Hawthorn supporters milled through the city to celebrate a Grand Final win, a somewhat less footy-fixated bunch made their way to Hamer Hall. They weren't decked out in team colours, but in the enthusiasm stakes, Bill Bailey's Melbourne audience formed a worthy equivalent to Buddy Franklin's loutish gang. Huddling into the Arts Centre, oblivious to the war cries echoing from the nearby Fed Square, these spectators had a different game to watch.
"So, were any of you there? At the foot-tee?" queries our host, having been welcomed onto the stage with a thunderous applause. "Yes, well done to the Hawthorn."
The audience, of course, don't care. They aren't there to talk about the final, or to take pot shots at the forlorn Cats supporters. They're here for a good dose of silliness and satire, and despite his scant AFL knowledge, in this area, Bill Bailey can certainly deliver.
Renowned for his surrealist ramblings and "bug-eyed druid" appearance, Bailey is most recognisable to Australian audiences as Manny, the hapless assistant to Dylan Moran's tyrannical Bernard in Black Books. Ending in 2000, the BBC series, which ran for three seasons, has developed a cult-like following of devotees Down Under.
Upon the end of the show, Bailey returned to his foremost profession, stand-up comedy, with Bewilderness and Part Troll picking up where Cosmic Jam left off.
Tinselworm is part of a more refined program, but has all the hallmarks of a Bill Bailey gig - audiovisual flourishes, hilarious characterisation and undeniable relevance.
As he paces back and forth onstage, it's remarkable how little Bailey has outwardly changed. His hair, notoriously described by one reviewer as a "shower-curtain", wisps by, and for all his portly plumpness, he's surprisingly agile.
Proof of which comes, conveniently, about twenty minutes into the second act, when our host treats us to an impromptu interpretative dance to the ABC news theme - gymnastics ribbons included.
As always, music forms a considerable part of the show and with merciless sarcasm, Bailey transforms Lionel Richie's sappy classic, "If You Leave Me Now", into a satanic ballad, complete with mood-piece lighting and Exorcist-inspired vocals.
But, if there's one thing Bill Bailey can do, it's transform the most depressing truths into a good joke. The doomsday implications of climate change are referenced in the lyric, "don't worry, it's not the end of the world/except it is," and the current energy crisis is Britain is brilliantly retold in the native tongue of their supplier - Germany.
"Bitte? Ein bisschen Electrizität? Nicht für mich! Für die Kinder!"
Whilst previous shows sought to satirise British culture, Tinselworm takes wider aim, as Bush, creationist theory and Ben Affleck all come into the line of fire. Youth culture isn't safe either, with the 'emo' movement paid homage with an entire song- including a chorus of "I will bleed on your Panini."
As always, our multi-skilled, multi-lingual host enjoys a warm rapport with his audience, leading to discussion and debate (such as the linguistic origins of 'bogan'. Crowd's consensus? "Frankston!").
A treat for fans, Bailey closed with his Part Troll love ballad. The first chord was a sufficient cue for cheers.
"The duck lies shredded in a pancake...soaking in the hoisin of your lies."
Typical Bill - unpredictable, insightful and just plain funny.