Tuesday Vaudeville @ Speakeasy HQ

One of the (many!) things I love about living in Melbourne is that no matter what day of the week, there’s always something to see / do / visit. Tuesdays are often a quieter evening during the week and I have been working extra hard at my daytime job lately so I decided to check out the new Tuesday Vaudeville evening at Speakeasy HQ. Tuesday is widely know as ‘cheap’ Tuesday for many activities (ie the cinema, restaurant deals etc etc) and the entry fee at Speakeasy HQ on Tuesdays is no different, being $7. Yes, you read that correctly – I was entertained for 2 and half hours for the miserly sum of $7! Plus there are also special bar prices – what more could I want on a Tuesday evening?!

I was excited to see this show as it contained a variety of acts – many of them I had not seen before (or rarely seen). First up on stage was Ukulele Will, who charmed the audience with stories and anecdotes along with his sunny and enthusiastic ukulele playing. Ukulele performances can be a bit bland at times / a bit ‘samey’ but this is NOT the case with Will. Each song he performed had a different tempo and vibe (from jazzy to tropical to lounge type music). My personal favourites from his performance were a song about gay pirates, and a lounge version of the Cannibal Corpse song ‘Rancid Amputation’. Given these song choices, I have no doubt that each performance from Will is a  different adventure!

As usual, a visit to Speakeasy HQ is not the same without a visit from the ‘host with the most’ and all-round-awesome-guy Roy Maloy. Roy knows how to charm his audience, and on this evening the audience were lapping up his jazz lounge rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells like teen spirit” as well as a famous Bobby Darin song (with some Melbourne lyrics included) and classic Frank Sinatra songs, which Roy clearly enjoys. It just so happens that the Tuesday Vaudeville show at Speakeasy HQ includes an ‘open mic’ section for people to get up on stage and sing a song for a prize (drink card). There were many brave souls who elected to do this at various points in the evening, including: a popular street busker; a talented young lady who sang in English and French; a set of twins and an assortment of other ladies. Whilst it was clear that some entrants had sung before on stage / in front of an audience, I’m sure that wasn’t the case for all of them so I applaud their bravery in that regard. It isn’t something I would be comfortable with (unless it’s karaoke and I’ve had a few drinks)! Including an open mic section in the show is great because it adds even greater variety and surprise to the evening, as well as supporting local talent.

Acoustic sets seemed to be the order of this evening, however I was assured that the lineup varies wildly each week. I heartily enjoyed the acoustic set from petite purple-haired charmer Damielou Shavelle, who treated the audience to a rendition of the classic sultry song “Fever” as well as one of her own songs “I’ll do it myself”. Damielou was at ease with the audience and gave us plenty of smiles and laughs throughout her performance. She was a delight to listen to, full of pizzazz and left the audience wanting more. I look forward to hearing more from her (especially the songs she has written).

I could write more about my fantastic Tuesday adventure however I’d hate to spoil the evening for you, in case you’re keen to attend the show. Suffice to say the rest of the lineup for the evening was exactly what you’d expect from a vaudeville show with hoop dancers, hypnotic contact juggling and even some comedy. Keep a lookout for MC Names – you can’t miss his quick wit, awesome hair and swish outfit.

I’ve only been to one installment (of many I’m sure) of Tuesday Vaudeville at Speakeasy HQ and it is already the most fun I’ve had on a Tuesday for a long time! Don’t miss the chance to see the show and support some local talent in the process.

Tickets are available at the door at:
Speakeasy HQ – 522 Flinders Street, Melbourne


MICF Review: “I’m not Harry Potter” performed by Gabriel Francis

I will admit, I’m a big fan of the Harry Potter franchise (Slytherins, represent!) so you can imagine my delight when I run into a young man outside the Melbourne Town Hall who has been gifted with the Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) looks. He mentions the name of his show and adds that there are not many Harry Potter related jokes in his show. Not to be discouraged, I make a time to attend and grab a ticket and remember to bring my cloak and wand for the evening (seriously).

Fast forward almost a week and despite the show name, I find myself down a dark laneway in the city faced with a number of unmarked doors – no one is around and I speculate whether I should start knocking on doors and find out which one I should enter….for a show not intending to reference Harry Potter, it is starting with a very mysterious set of circumstances! In no time, the assortment of audience members are led into an intimate theatre, with a bar set into a bank vault – we may as well have been in the basement of Gringotts (the wizarding bank from Harry Potter)! Okay, okay enough with the Harry Potter references – I hear you.

On the stage is a paparazzi photo of Daniel Radcliffe from a movie premiere, propped up on a chair. Gabriel appears and warmly greets the audience, pointing out that he is not Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), but asks the audience if they see a resemblance (a resounding YES!). Gabriel goes on to tell us stories about his time and adventures in Melbourne, and trips to places in Europe (Paris) and Japan. No topic seems to be off limits in this show, with Gabriel conjuring plenty of laughs as he recounts various drinking, dating and travel adventures (among other stories). Gabriel has a friendly personality, and at points during the show he would ask questions of various audience members (which I’m unaccustomed to). When some audience members sent a couple of one liners / jokes Gabriel’s way, he was able to laugh along or ‘disarm’ them in a relaxed fashion. Gabriel is able to lead the audience away with him during his stories, so the audience feels like they go on the same adventures with him.

I was sad when it was time to leave as I was enjoying Gabriel’s stories so much – everything seems a little more intriguing when the person looks like one of the most famous wizards in literary history! Coupled with the secretive location and stories from faraway places, I forgot that I was in Melbourne (my hometown) until it was time to leave. Gabriel was happy to hang around after the show and meet his audience and share an extra few laughs which was lovely.

VERDICT: Gabriel’s resemblance to Daniel Radcliffe, his engaging personality and surprising stories amount to him charming his audience with ease. An enjoyable show, just don’t tell him that ‘you know who’ sent you!

Tickets: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/i-m-not-harry-potter#

MICF Review: “RanDOM” performed by Dom Chambers

You may think it’s a bit strange to be attending a magic show during a comedy festival, but let me assure you that “RanDOM” conjures up plenty of laughs amongst the amazing magic. It was a full house on the night I attended and the audience was eagerly awaiting the start of the show. I never really know what to expect during a magic show, and the audience was feeling the same way and buzzing with excitement.

People expecting a ‘stock standard’ classic magic show featuring perhaps some linking rings and some rope / card tricks will be surprised to learn that this show contains none of those items. “RanDOM” does away with many of the expectations and assumptions people may have about magic shows and vanishes them. Billed as ‘modern comedy magic’, the show delivers that in spades with Dom referencing certain well known YouTube videos featuring blenders, and touching on subjects like internet dating throughout the show. Dom himself is self depreciating, aware that magicians have some challenges in life (like being distrusted, and being seen as not having a ‘real’ job) however it is clear to all that Dom is superbly talented at magic. He often had the audience in the palm of his hand with his relaxed and witty banter. Being a magic show, this show has plenty of audience participation (but not of the ‘scary’ kind) – often audience members could be helping out from their seat. Dom comes across as larrikin – the guy at the bar that everyone wants to be friends with (just more magical!).

After the show, plenty of audience members were seen to be talking amongst themselves of all the wonder they’d just experienced. This is an exciting show, it will leave you leaning on the edge of your seat wanting more. The show is called “RanDOM” but I assure you that the laughs and enjoyable levels can’t be described as such.

VERDICT: perfect show for people who are unsure about magic shows, people who want something special and memorable alongside their comedy, or perhaps people who’ve “seen it all”. This show appeals to so many people and it was so enjoyable – see it before it disappears (last show is at 6:30pm on April 9th)!

Tickets: https://events.ticketbooth.com.au/event/random

MICF Review: “Nanette” performed by Hannah Gadsby

I will admit that I generally do not frequent the larger theatres or the more famous headline acts at the Comedy Festival – I prefer to watch the small, intimate shows of the ‘up-and-comers’ and shows in the smaller venues. This year, a friend of mine mentioned that her Comedy Festival tradition was to see Hannah Gadsby’s show. I thought I’d go along – I didn’t know too much about Hannah (aside from what you’d find on Wikipedia and social media) but I was keen to attend.

Hannah’s show is called “Nanette” – I do love a vague title as I was curious to find out what this refers to. As expected, Hannah’s show was peppered with anecdotes and personal stories (including one referencing the show title). These personal stories were fascinating, and often quite raw. There were laughs during this show and couple of snappy one liners that I heartily enjoyed, however this show is full of deeper emotions. Hannah cares about a lot of topics close to her (politics, art, community, identity) and these are discussed at length during her show. The audience clearly cared about Hannah’s topics, for they were shared topics many could relate to – many times I heard murmurs of “here here!” and “YES!” from audience members, and even the glistening of eyes when topics hit home for some people.

There were points during the show where Hannah mentioned this would likely be her last show, and that she would be “moving on” from comedy (moving on where / to was not mentioned – it’s a mystery!), so if you’re thinking of attending I would recommend on doing so. This is a powerful show, and if you’re an existing Gadsby fan, I’d hate for you to miss out!

Upon leaving the theatre, I left quietly – I guess I was stunned a little. I was surprised that Hannah shared so much about her personal circumstances and upbringing with her audience. This show left me with a deeper feeling – that each one of us can get out there and make the change we want to see in the community. I like to think that everyone left the show feeling a little more connected to each other.

VERDICT: Please see this show if you’re already a Hannah Gadsby fan! This show is powerful and should be seen. If you’re a “first timer” attending a Hannah Gadsby show (like I was) I have it on good authority that this is unlike her ‘usual’ show so you may wish to keep that in mind. If you like your comedy with a side of political and social commentary then this show may appeal.

Tickets: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/hannah-gadsby-nanette

2017 MICF Show Review: “Creepy Dummy” performed by Sarah Jones

I have seen Sarah Jones’ unique performances of ventriloquism before, so I was excited to hear about her solo show entitled “Creepy Dummy”. The show certainly lives up to its name, with Sarah introducing us to various “guests / friends” over the course of the evening. Each guest brought a different dimension and style of humour to the show, much to the delight of the audience. Some scenes had me on the verge of crying with laughter!

Whilst portions of the show teeter towards various shades of “creepy”, Sarah’s friendly smile and warm personality always manage to keep the audience (and show) on track and she keeps the laughs rolling! Regular checks are made for audience welfare, and to ensure the right levels of “creepy” were being maintained. I’m pleased to report that on the evening I attended all audience members were having a great time. This show has too many highlights to mention here, however special mentions go to the guest appearances from Sarah’s relatives and a certain friend of hers (you’ll know who I mean if you see the show!).

VERDICT: Another delightful show from Sarah Jones, perfect for weirdos / strangelings and lovers of comedy that is offbeat (while still being upbeat!).

Tickets: https://thebutterflyclub.com/show/creepy-dummy

MICF info: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/creepy-dummy#

Tay Around Town is still seeing shows around town!

Hello lovely readers! Over the past 6 months you may have wondered such things as “Where has Tay Around Town gone?”….maybe she’s hasn’t had any adventures to write about? Maybe she has gone away? etc etc….WELL! I just thought I’d mention that I AM still seeing shows around town and having many adventures! The lack of posts has largely been due to my day job changing and becoming more demanding lately, and a couple of bouts of illness (which never fail to ‘keep me behind the 8 ball’).

Having said all this, it is Melbourne International Comedy Festival time in my hometown and I have been seeing shows so you will see some reviews posted up here shortly! I extend my thanks to readers and friends who have been ‘checking in’ on me. Onwards and upwards from here!

Review: “Cardinal Sins” performed by Frank Hampster

IMPORTANT NOTE: The show I reviewed focused on sensitive subject matter- the sexual abuse of young boys by members of the Catholic Church. Consider this a trigger warning – if you’re sensitive to this topic, DO NOT READ ON. LEAVE NOW!

It was a dark night that I attended this satirical show, as dark as the subject matter itself that Frank Hampster was about to delve into. An intimate, but interested group of people had gathered to watch and listen to Frank Hampster’s accounts of growing up in Ballarat in the 70’s and 80’s. For those unaware, Ballarat is a region of Victoria with a notorious history of hosting many members of the Catholic Church who have sexually abused children. Frank was dressed in black and took to the stage, eyeing his audience with some mild suspicion. I stood out in the audience, with my pen and paper (for reviewing) and Frank asked who I was writing for  – concerned that I was attending on behalf of some lawyers (or perhaps that I was a lawyer myself?). Oh, how that made me laugh!

After some reassuring from the audience (and host), Frank went on to speak about some colourful stories of his time on day trips with priests, and some theories on why he believed priests (and other members of the church hierarchy) ‘got to be that way’. Frank mentioned that priests (and the church itself) are all about patriarchy, power and maintaining power, and this was a theme that coursed through all the contents of the evening. A quote I particularly liked was when Frank likened church abuse deniers to climate change deniers. Quite poignant in these times.

Throughout the evening, Frank was Frank by name, frank by nature which was refreshing given the subject matter. Due to ongoing court cases and events, Frank couldn’t name all the priests and divulge all the details he wanted to and reverted to pseudonyms for some of the stories and anecdotes. Nevertheless, this did not detract from a compelling evening. There wasn’t a dull moment between Frank pacing about the stage staring down audience members, to him singing a song based on the responses of priests’ to allegations in court (which was well put together).

The ending of the show held a few surprises, and the audience was treated to a Q and A session with Frank after the show which I think was a great way for people to find out more. For those who are asking why a person would make light of this (especially as an abuse survivor), Frank mentions “you gotta make people laugh, or they’ll line up and kill you”.

VERDICT: This show was eye opening, and confronting at times but some of the best shows are. Highlighting this subject matter and having an abuse survivor speak about it is the opposite to the past actions people have heard about – the covering up of documents and destroying of evidence by the Church. Sure, this show isn’t for everyone (hence my ‘trigger warning’) however for me it was a glimpse into another world and a reminder for me to be grateful for my own life and experiences within it.

Tickets: Next show is on Thursday September 15th at Speakeasy HQ. See more details at

Disclaimer: I attended this event as a guest of Speakeasy HQ.

Review: MSFW fashion show “Urban Bloom”

On a mild evening after work I was invited to the Melbourne Town Hall to experience a show of ‘ready to wear’ fashions as part of Melbourne Spring Fashion Week (MSFW).  MSFW is truly an institution in Melbourne and helps to ensure the city shakes off a gloomy winter and prepares for a mild, colourful spring. I met a lovely group of ladies outside the Town Hall and we ascended the blue carpeted staircase, under an arch of beautiful fresh flowers and made our way to the VIP bar. I felt very special being in the VIP bar as we were in a very plush room, adorned with paintings of some of the previous Lord Mayors of Melbourne. I thoroughly enjoyed sipping on Campari and Tonic, some champagne and partaking in canapes while discussing all things spring, events, foodie destinations in the city and travel with my new friends. The VIP room quickly filled with fashion aficionados, sponsors and some special guests.

 After sharing plenty of laughs and stories, we all tottered down to the fashion runway area (not without quickly grabbing another glass of champagne on the way). I did feel very privileged to be in 4th row away from the runway – such a good spot for people  / model / fashion watching! Clutching our goodie bags (and champagne!) we all settled in for an exciting show. The runway itself was styled with large pastel paper flowers which I admired, as I make the same sort of flowers in my craft room (albeit on a much smaller scale).

 I was pleased that this runway show featured ‘ready to wear’ pieces, meaning that if I really liked a piece I could go out and find it at a store such as David Jones, or another well known store that carried the particular designer’s label / pieces. Over the evening we saw sweet, flowing and stylish outfits by designers and labels Kate Sylvester, Megan Park, Yeojin Bae, Alice McCall, Nevenka, Uma Wang By Cose Ipanema, Akira, and Romance Was Born at David Jones. Each label and designer had a different flair and emphasis for their set of outfits, with the models strutting to different pieces of music.

My favourite pieces included lacy dresses with frilly sleeves and ornate collars, some of which looked like they were right out of ‘Alice in Wonderland’; the use of large kimono like sashes on outfits by Akira; and a very ornate sequin and beaded jacket on one of the models. I’m sure you can spot that in my photos as that jacket was a real show stopper! Accessories differed wildly – I enjoyed the flat boater hats seen on many models, and one designer even matched their models with pieces of Australian flora (gum leaves and wattle sprigs).

 At the end of the show, all the models walked out in pairs (Noah’s Ark style!) and appeared on the runway, before walking single file right in front of the first row of seating, until they disappeared backstage again. This was a nice way to end a show, as I’ve never seen models walk off-catwalk / runway before, and this also granted us a closer glimpse of our favourite pieces. It was such an enjoyable night and I’m very grateful that I was granted the opportunity to attend the delights of the evening.

 Disclaimer: I attended this event as a guest of the InterContinental Hotel, Melbourne.

Cake tasting adventure: ‘Frankenzumbo’ cake by Zumbo Patisserie

In Australia, there is a TV program airing nationally, called “Zumbo’s Just Desserts”. This program features acclaimed baker of delicious sweets, Adriano Zumbo, and a group of aspiring bakers / pastry chefs etc that must emulate his creations and take part in challenges.

Zumbo has his own patisseries in Melbourne and Sydney, and to coincide with the TV show there have been some special releases of some of the cakes and desserts shown. Recently, I was lucky enough to purchase the rare “Frankenzumbo” cake. This cake was only available for 3 days, and I had to repetitively visit the bakery one morning to ensure I could have a mini “Frankenzumbo” cake of my own! The concept of the “Frankenzumbo” cake is similar to that of the savoury ‘ Turducken’ (a chicken stuffed inside a duck, which is then stuffed inside a Turkey)…but in a sweet cake form. The “Frankenzumbo” cake was a mini donut, sitting atop a lemon tart which was above a chocolate brownie, all encased in meringue with a mini pavlova topping!!!

I must admit that I marvelled at how this creation was constructed. As I sliced the cake in half to reveal all the glorious layers, I was impressed how everything was held together in a delicate meringue shell. I did share a portion of this cake with a work colleague, but then the rest of the cake became unstable so I promptly devoured the remainder. Each layer tasted as it should – the chocolate brownie was rich, the lemon tart had a tang, the pavlova layer was sublime- however the doughnut layer was the weakest (taste wise). It did taste like a donut, but the texture and placement didn’t match the rest of cake. I would have preferred a ‘wagon wheel’ type layer with jam and marshmallow…or even an ‘iced vovo’ inspired layer.

Even though the cake was small(ish) once my belly was full of cake, it felt like I had eaten 4 cakes in one. I was full for the entire morning and only had a small lunch that day. It was the highlight of my day. Fifteen minutes after purchase, the layered cake was out of my life, as quickly as it had entered.

Over a week later, and I’m still telling all manner of friends and people about this cake. I wish more people had the chance to experience and enjoy it.

Review: ‘London’s Burning’ Vaudeville Show

On a chilly Thursday night, I took a friend and my mother along to see ‘London’s Burning’ at Speakeasy HQ. Billed as featuring the UK’s best vaudeville performers, I was very excited and curious to see the show. Seeing this show had good timing in my life, as I have a number of friends currently in the UK who I was missing so this show was like a pretend trip to the UK. We were all welcomed into the theatre by the lovely Speakeasy HQ staff, and were lucky to have a front row seat close to all the action. The host for the evening was the sassy and brash Charlie Chapstik, dressed in the Union Jack colours. Charlie addressed the audience with an ‘East End of London’ accent…if you’re unsure of what this sounds like then I encourage you to see Charlie Chapstik in action! Sensing that there may be some newcomers in the audience to vaudeville  / burlesque (one of Charlie’s specialties), Charlie went on to instruct the audience in the proper way to encourage a burlesque performer, and conduct during the show while also hinting at what we may expect during the rest of the show. Charlie performed a mini burlesque routine for the audience, which had the audience cheering, applauding and eager to see more.


The first act was a comedian, introducing himself as Gabe (Gabriel)…I’m VERY pleased to report that he was a dead ringer for none other than Harry Potter! Luckily, he spoke about this himself (apparently it is a regular occurrence for him to have people point out this likeness) otherwise I’m not sure I would have highlighted it. Gabe’s comedy was anecdotal and modern, mentioning stories of drinking adventures, Uber rides and his time in Melbourne. It felt surreal hearing modern jokes in my hometown from a Harry Potter lookalike, however I immensely enjoyed his set. Promptly, a performer named Miss Crystal glided onto the stage and presented a whimsical and mesmerising contact juggling routine to the David Bowie classic ‘Dance Magic’ from the movie Labyrinth. For those who are unsure of what contact juggling is, it is style of juggling that David Bowie’s character (Jareth) performs in that film. On the rare occasions that I’m blessed to watch contact juggling, it never fails to take me away to another place entirely. The performance by Miss Crystal was no different. With wide eyes, I was mesmerised as I watched the deep red crystal ball dance and jump from hand to hand seemingly by unseen forces. I was completely taken away – such a brilliant routine.

Alex  – who was described by Charlie Chapstik has having a ‘Posh’ accent appeared on stage to tell us jokes, stories and to read poetry.  Alex amused the audience with stories of his time in Australia, including a very colourful description of what sights to expect on the Gold Coast, as well nuances of / his struggles with the Australian language (in particular the Aussie penchant for shortening words).  Alex read us a clever poem featuring popular Aussie shortened words, which the audience enjoyed. Bonza!

A charming lounge singer names Andy C was next on stage. Hailing from Brighton, he had a very strong, lush British accent. He sung some classics for us – “Miss Jones” and “Mr Bojangles”. I looked around the audience to see many people’s eyes shining with delight. Andy C easily had the audience in the palm of his hand. My mother enjoyed the pace of music and we all swayed along to the beautiful songs. Prior to interval, Charlie Chapstik returned to surprise us all with a Charlie Chaplin inspired burlesque routine – something you need to witness in person to believe. Charlie Chapstik is a magnificent performer and certainly likes to surprise her audience!

 By the time interval arrived, I’d heard so many different accents from the UK I was starting to question what city I was in, and was also keen to check a map when I got home to pinpoint all the different places mentioned. During interval, we were lucky enough to speak to Gabe (the Harry Potter lookalike) again, which was very exciting!! We purchased delicious and snacks and another round of drinks (of course!) before the show continued.

Alex “Posh boy” returned after interval and revealed he was originally from Worcester / Worcestershire (don’t even mention that sauce!!!) and I was pleased when he uttered some classic British phrases. He comes across as genuine, which I think the audience appreciates (particularly in a comedian). Undoubtedly the most impressive part of his performance was when he read out an account of what happened with the whole Brexit situation, in the style of Shakespeare (making references to many Shakespearean works in his prose). The crowd was speechless and deeply impressed.

Coming to the end of the evening, Andy C returned to the stage in style – he chatted to the audience (which I enjoyed because he does have a lovely voice) and then mentioned that some people have pointed out his likeness to a popular singer – Robbie Williams!!! My friend had already discussed his likeness to Robbie Williams during interval so we were both especially delighted when Andy C sang Robbie’s popular hit “Rock DJ”. We were the most excited audience members in the room as we sang along and danced in our seats!! It was one of the highlights of the night.

For the finale, the audience was treated to the dazzling and sultry burlesque of Marilyn Mocktail. Marilyn has the most wonderful smile, you can’t help but be seduced by her and beautiful, twirling routine. So graceful and playful all at once. Marilyn’s routine caused much whistling, cheering and delight from the audience. It was a perfect end to a thoroughly fun and sassy show. I’d had so much fun that I wanted to stay in ‘pretend UK’ and was reluctant to leave and return to my usual life.

Verdict: I have seen vaudeville shows at Speakeasy HQ before. Speakeasy HQ specialises in this entertainment form, and the venue sets the bar high. This show by UK performers was fantastic. I didn’t know what to expect and was surprised and entertained by each performer. If this show returns to Speakeasy HQ, please go and see it! My mother and friend each enjoyed the evening. It was the perfect escape within a busy working week.

Disclaimer: I attended this event as a guest of Speakeasy HQ.