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Sunday Age

ABOUT TOWN

Author: WITH MELISSA KENT
Date: 01/03/2009
Words: 1255
Source: SAG
          Publication: The Sunday Age
Section: News
Page: 22
Laughed? They almost did Melbourne International Comedy Festival launch, Siglo Bar, Spring Street

BRACE yourselves for hilarity, people: our new Lord Mayor fancies himself a bit of a comedian. The Right Honourable Robert Doyle - the very same man who, ironically and unintentionally humorously, decried bogans and bad buskers upon election - bravely decided to try out his "dad humour" at the launch of the 23rd Melbourne International Comedy Festival. "If it's not funny, I guarantee I will put it away forever, but if it is funny then I want it included in the program in years to come," Doyle warned, before unleashing this gem: "A horse goes into a bar. The barman asks, 'Why the long face?"'

Oh stop, please!

Thankfully MC Denise Scott, who actually IS funny, came to rescue in a flesh-coloured leotard complete with nipples and pubic hair - a cunning diversionary tactic to distract the crowd "from the fact my show is shit", she modestly claimed. Scott touched on the importance of laughter in gloomy times, arguing that comedians can be quite useful, although she admitted, "If there was a raging fire front racing towards me, I know who I would rather have by my side."

The festival, which runs from

April 1 to 26, promises 23,782 minutes of comedy and a line-up that includes 201 stand-up shows, two films and 54 international acts. Headliners this year include US satirist Janeane Garofalo, Alan Partridge star Steve Coogan, and Irish stand-up Dylan Moran.

Comedians including Justin Hamilton, Damian Callinan, Arj Barker and Tom Gleeson milled around, snaffling free drinks and providing funny quotes for journalists.

Gleeson told us his show Going at It with a Big Stick was in the bag: "It's been finished for about a month - now I have another month to make it seem spontaneous."

Still on the stick theme, guests were handed small twigs emblazoned with the slogan "More laughs than you can point a stick at" - a gift Barker found unsettling: "I've often thought comedians are like dancing monkeys on the stage and the stick doesn't allay those fears ... 'poke it, make it tell a joke!"' he quipped.

Short and sweet

Tropfest Film Festival, Sidney Myer Music Bowl

On Sunday we dug out the picnic hamper, rinsed the plastic wine glasses and presented for duty at the 17th Tropfest Film Festival. Rug space was tight in the Sidney Myer Music Bowl as thousands of short-film devotees settled in to watch the festival's 16 finalist shorts, which this year included an interpretation of the word "spring".

As always, the films showcased some truly talented and original emerging filmmakers. Our favourite was a sweet animation about a tiny clay man who climbs out of a travel bag and plays a comb piano. Another dealt with a delusional pirate's enduring obsession with spring rolls. Underbelly star Gyton Grantley proved a crowd-pleaser in two films, including the hilarious Being Carl Williams in which he is mistaken for the gangland killer on the streets of Bondi and kidnapped by two dimwitted thugs.

Another popular entry was Bargain! in which Bogan Pride's Rebel Wilson tricks her sister's hunky boyfriend into stripping for $500. The winning film, Be My Brother, by Newcastle director Genevieve Clay, was a touching drama about a young man with Down syndrome, played by Gerard O'Dwyer, who charms a woman at a bus stop with a Shakespearean soliloquy. O'Dwyer was a popular choice for the best actor award, while Wilson won best actress. Clay, who is just 20, took home a prize package of $100,000, including a trip to Los Angeles to meet film executives, and $5000 cash.

Second prize went to Abe Forsythe for Being Carl Williams and the third prize to Fences, by Tim Dean.

Wit and a bit

Moonlight and Magnolias opening night, Playhouse

Frankly my dear, I dont give a damn! Its a great line and one that About Town likes to deploy in many and varied situations.

But who knew that the immortal word frankly - uttered so callously by Rhett Butler at the end of Gone with The Wind -was actually added at the last minute during a chaotic rewrite?

This intriguing snippet is revealed in Moonlight and Magnolias, a wisecracking comedy by Bruce Beresford about the behind-the-scenes making of the epic corset drama. Spied at the Playhouse on opening night on Thursday were Kath and Kim stars Gina Riley and Jane Turner, Underbellys Kevin Harrington and Madeleine West, comedian John Clarke and actress Robyn Nevin. Also in the audience were 200 Country Fire Authority volunteers and people who lost their homes in the fires who had been given tickets by the Melbourne Theatre Company. The play, which Beresford directs, is based on a true story about the writing of Gone with The Wind and picks up as producer David O. Selznick tries to save the project from disaster by locking his director and a screenplay rewrite guy in a room with nothing but a typewriter and a supply of brain-food (peanuts and bananas). Its not just funny but it gives some wonderful insights into the trials and tribulations of filmmaking, Beresford told us after the show at the ANZ Pavilion. Its written in that 30s comedy style, because it is set in the 30s and retains the fastpaced wit that was popular at the time.

EMAIL: PARTIES@THEAGE.COM.AU

KATIE BLAKE AND JUSTIN HODGE

KING'S DOMAIN, MELBOURNE

STEVE HOLLAND

All she wanted was someone to take over her job, but this pair found there's no accounting for love.

THE old adage goes that opposites attract - and then over time the loving couple comes to resemble one another. It isn't always true.

Sometimes people marry a version of each other.

That seems to be the case for Katie Blake, who wasn't looking for a husband when she first spoke to Justin Hodge - she was looking for somebody to take over her job as a finance manager.

It wasn't love at first sight.

"It was a telephone interview so I didn't even see him," she said.

However, Justin had "the right qualifications".

They hit it off during the hand-over period, and "became good friends".

Apart from a passion for accountancy, Katie and Justin have much in common, having both grown up in the country.

Katie was born in Melbourne, but left when she was six months old to live on a farm outside Canberra.

Justin was from the heart of sheep country: Wagga Wagga, NSW.

They also share a love of travel and as a young couple they hit the road to see the world. Their at times exhausting journey took them across South America, Africa and Europe.

"We were away for a year in total and knew if we could travel together we could live together forever," said Katie.

Justin, flush with the romance of France, asked his sister to bring a diamond from his grandmother's ring to Paris.

At a castle in Scotland, he dropped to one knee and presented a newly made ring.

"Just for the fairytale aspect," he said.

Katie answered as if she was adding up numbers: "Of course."

The 80 guests who watched them marry at King's Domain were treated to an unusual maths lesson. Katie's having a baby. This time one and one made three.

If you would like your wedding, commitment ceremony or major anniversary featured, email sundayweddings@theage.com.au

YOU KNOW YOU'RE A MELBURNIAN WHEN ...

You think it's normal for a street to change its name three times in a kilometre.

LIZ NAUMANN TEMPLESTOWE

 
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