MICF 2022 Review: “Oops”

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It’s a bold move to create a show that references and celebrates mistakes, yet Callum Straford does both well and in entertaining ways during his show “Oops”. From the moment Callum walks on stage, his relaxed and affable nature puts his audience at ease and that makes this show easy to sit back, relax and enjoy. In fact, the bulk of Straford’s show is extremely relatable – from experiences in school, to going out, technology use and everything in between – “Oops” features strong comedy pieces delivered via all the senses.

The pace of Straford’s sketches and pieces is fast, but not so much that you can’t keep up with all the action and relish each punchline or quick witted comment. I especially enjoyed some choice 90’s throwbacks (and jingles!) along with Straford’s physical comedy sketches, which made me laugh the most. Straford is also a good singer – not one of those people who protest they can sing (but only in the shower or drunk at karaoke) – I’m talking, a decent singer and keyboard player to boot. Straford’s songs are another highlight of “Oops”. Multi talented performer full of surprises for the win! No audience members are ‘put on the spot’ or unfairly highlighted in this show which is refreshing, and both the show content and friendly nature of Straford are ideal for the early comedy timeslot. If you have the chance to see this show, please do. It’s one of those shows where time goes very fast because you’re having such a good time.

VERDICT: “Oops” is a solidly entertaining show with some poignant messages at the end. Highly recommended.

Oops runs from Monday 11th of April – Saturday 23rd April (excluding Sunday 17th) at a brand-new theatre in Bard’s Apothecary (7/24 Crossley Street, in Melbourne’s CBD). Bookings are essential and can be made here

*disclaimer: I attended this show as a guest of the performer.

Performer Spotlight: Max Paton

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Max’s show in the 2022 MICF is called ‘Big Funny’. A quick show intro: “Equipped with nothing but excessive enthusiasm and a titanic sense of self, regular-sized Max is embarking on a one-man sketch show of colossal proportions.” In a country that likes big things, within the city hosting the largest comedy festival in the country, I tracked Max down to chat about his show which I’m sure will be big on laughs!

  1. Describe your show in 3 words: Fast-paced, unbridled absurdity.
  2. Let’s get to know you a little better…imagine you’re on a speed date – describe yourself!
    Max is a wonderfully chaotic idiot-in-training. He’s a charmingly earnest 27-year-old with a penchant for the creative arts and a love for the absurd and ridiculous in life. He recently found a nice pair of shoes in hard rubbish, and has a philosophy degree from Monash Uni…and is currently wondering which is more useful!
  3. What excites you about bringing “Big Funny” to audiences during the 2022 Melbourne International Comedy Festival? This is such a joyously silly rollercoaster ride of a show. Delightful jokes, songs, characters, wild set-ups – all strung together with such infectious enthusiasm you won’t be able to resist getting on board. Melbourne has never seen a one-person sketch show like this.
  4. What was your inspiration (or main inspiration) for your show Big Funny?
    It’s been a tough few years – you couldn’t fault anybody for wanting an escape – and that’s what Big Funny is. A ridiculously creative, over-the-top wild ride of a show. Designed to take you on a crazy journey, stuff you full of laughs and spit you out the other side cackling with glee.
  5. Why go big? Is bigger really better? (innuendo completely intentional!)
    Long answer: Bigger is only better if it’s stuffed it to the brim with good stuff. For example, if you add sawdust to a cannelloni and inflate it like a balloon I’d be extremely impressed given the brittle nature of crust, however it’d also taste like crap. But if you stuffed those same cannelloni with good stuff like chocolate they’d probably taste great. Wait is cannelloni the dessert one? Or is that cannoli? Short answer: Maybe go with a lasagne.

I’m already giggling at the conclusion of this interview so if that’s anything to go by, Max’s show will be big on laughs and fun indeed.

Big Funny runs from Monday 18th – Sunday 24th April at The Motley Bauhaus, 118 Elgin Street Carlton. Ticket details can be found here

Performer Spotlight: Callum Straford

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Callum Straford made his debut in the 2021 Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) and returns in 2022 with his show “Oops” which embraces our mistakes and failures.

Straford says: “In Oops, anything could happen. I want to make the show unpredictable and lots of fun. But most importantly, one that comforts the audience and says it’s okay to screw up from time to time. Or if you’re like me, all the time.”  

Focusing on mistakes / creating a show about mistakes seems like a brave move, so I was lucky enough to have a nice safe (mistake free!) interview with Callum prior to his show run.

1. Describe your show in 3 words: Wild. Unpredictable. Joyful. 

2. Let’s get to know you a little better…imagine you’re on a speed date – describe yourself!
I’m 23, a Melbourne boy born and bred. I’m on Centrelink (probably wouldn’t say that on a speed date) and I love performing and watching comedy. My love for music comes a close second. I’m an Arts Graduate, studied at Monash University. I’ve solo travelled to 11 different countries… the power of Contiki (I think it’s illegal not to say where you’ve travelled on a date, yeah?)! I’m passionate about what I do and I will always go out of my way for my friends and family… and sometimes even if I’ve just met you!

3. What excites you about bringing Oops to audiences during the 2022 Melbourne International Comedy Festival? Audiences are in for an absolute trip. I’m so proud of what I’m setting out to achieve with this show and it’s been a genuine thrill to write and rehearse. As every performer will say, there’s nothing like performing material that you emotionally connect with. This show is very personal and it has made the material all the better and all the funnier. I’m presenting it with skills I have honed from my first MICF show in 2021, and it includes character comedy, musical comedy, mime, sound design, and much more. I hope audiences are going to have as much fun watching this show as I will performing it.

4. What was your inspiration (or main inspiration) for your show Oops?
Primarily, it’s my constant battle with perfectionism. That’s not just when I’m working on comedy, but how self critical I am when I forget my keys or drop a spoon – many people will relate to this. This show gives a big middle finger to our overly self-critical brains and we all have a great time. I also wanted to include things I love, for instance there is a sketch about The Beatles and a guy obsessed with sunscreen. I love The Beatles and I put on too much sunscreen. There’s lots of autobiographical moments in there, too. I connect and have personal experiences with every sketch and song in the performance. 

5. Your show is described as a love letter to ‘every mistake we’ve made’….just to pique our interest, care to be brave and share / describe a mistake for our blog readers?
I accidentally dropped my Airpods into the Yarra River last year. They were my first pair and I had only had them for a month or so. I sat down on the edge of a pier and they just slipped out of my pocket! It all happened in slow motion…. I can still see them, falling, in their case and plopping into the sewer that is the Yarra River. There are plenty of Yarra River jokes in the show, don’t you worry. I haven’t bought another pair of AirPods since...

Sitting down with Callum Straford has certainly piqued my interest and I’m looking forward to experiencing his show and reveling in his stories.

Oops runs from Monday 11th of April – Saturday 23rd April (excluding Sunday 17th) at a brand-new theatre in Bard’s Apothecary (7/24 Crossley Street, in Melbourne’s CBD). Bookings are essential and can be made here

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If you’ve scrolled down this far, here’s a treat for you from Tay Around Town – nobody is immune to mistakes (not even me) so here’s one from my own list! Back in the glory days of travel (pre COVID!) I was hastily booking some flights and misspelled my own name (!!!) and then had to suffer the indignity of paying $100 to correct my own name on my boarding pass *sigh*….on a different trip I miscalculated my landing date in London (hello jetlag!) and rocked up to the hotel a day/ night earlier than planned. Luckily the hotel had a spare room to sell me for that night….luckily London is a big city with many hotels too!