The show so good they named it twice. The Special Comedy Comedy Special brought together a bevvy of local and interstate comedians for a one night only evening of laughs at Adelaide’s iconic Her Majesty’s Theatre on 30 October 2021.
Flat cap wearing Trio Sepia entertained the incoming audience with their unique Americana and Depression-era sound. Garth Chin (accordion), Mick Durant (bass) and Mike Jenkins (guitar) unexpectedly remained on stage for the duration of the show affording each performer an inimitable musical introduction. Their incidental comedic routine with host Jennifer Wong, at times, lacked finesse but was charming, nevertheless, and served well as the precursor to some marvellous comedy.
Joining us after a two-week quarantine plus significant lockdown in Sydney, Chinese-Australian Wong delighted as punny host and translator for the evening. From Good News Week, The Serpent’s Tale, Plonk and Chopsticks or Fork? Wong now found herself at the OzAsia Festival, leading the audience in a Mandarin lesson while dropping pun after pun. From her vibrant dress to her lustrous personality, Wong was the comedic cog who kept the wheels turning for the evening.
The 2009 Adelaide Comic of the Year, Australasian Jason Chong (his dad is Singaporean and his mum has been kicked out of The Austral), summed up his set as “very dumb”. Yes, it was but, it was also hilarious. A comedic veteran, Wong impressed with his scripted childhood reflections and spontaneous moments, including a call back to Wong’s set, in a highlight of his professionalism.
Musical comedy duo The Coconuts. Leela Varghese and Shabana Azeez may have only broken onto the scene in 2019 but, their set did not represent their comedic youth. Kids may recall Varghese from her televisions stints in Totally Wild and BTN, and Azeez from The Hunting, The Letdown, and Why Are You Like This? but The Coconuts show should by no means be viewed by kids. Songs including You’re a Little Bit Racist straddle the line of nuance and frankness. They inevitably leap headfirst into R rated bluntness in such a sweet and seemingly innocent manner that you cannot help but laugh out loud.
Self-proclaimed “halfie” and 2015 Raw Comedy National finalist Nicholas Huntley is the legacy of a Vietnamese father and Irish mother. With a set focused on judgement, he shows no fear on stage, enthusiastically redesigning jokes that do not land in the hope of getting the desired return.
The finest sketch comedy group in all of Croydon, and the third finest in the greater Croydon area, The Golden Phung, may have hung up their sketch comedy hats years ago. But, Adelaide was treated to a one night only mini Phung reunion for OzAsia Festival. And they rejoiced, especially the woman sitting two seats down from me who laughed non-stop for their whole set. Roy Phung and Eddie Morrison showed they have still got it as they powered through a handful of sketches on this wide brown land of ours.
Seventy-year-old and one hundred and fifty-two centimetre (and shrinking) comedy legend Kehau Jackson brought a joyful take on modern-day politics to the stage with her dry humour. From her commentary on stupid people, including an example from the Adelaide Advertiser, to her solution for Australia’s slow COVID vaccination roll out – drug dealers – Jackson generated laugh after laugh. It was disappointing she could not be afforded a lengthier set, but the payoff was that headliner Dilruk Jayasinha followed.
Fresh from his two-week quarantine and Victorian lockdown, Logie Award-winning Jayasinha, who is now a household name thanks to his prolific career, demonstrated why he is one of the nation’s sought after headliners. His ten-minute well-rehearsed, quick-fire set was a balanced mix of affirmative, upbeat candour, and self-deprecating humour. Recontextualising his personal achievements of 2020, including the use of LifeLine, highlighted his vulnerability and relatedness despite the celebrity. Jayasinha was the cherry on top of a brilliant night of entertainment.
The Special Comedy Comedy Special was a night of…special comedy. In fact, it was substantially more than that. It was the largest showcase of talented and diverse Asian-Australia comedians ever gathered on one stage in the country bringing some much-needed laughter. It was a fabulous addition to OzAsia 2021.
OzAsia Review Anita Kertes