When: 28 March - 21 April 2019
Where: Archive Room, Trades Hall
Written and performed by: Alex Ward
Ward has been a comedian for around five years now and is a writer on The Project so it is not unreasonable to have high expectations. I am not sure they will be satisfied. Having said that the show does have a lot of laughs and, if not uproariously funny, it is definitely down home feel good.
No Flirting does not explore political issues or social justice. It is just Ward talking about some absurdities in her daily life and exploring notions in that hyperbolic way comedians do.
The show starts well with her telling us about her very recent doomed flight to Brisbane for the festival. Suffice to say she is lucky to have arrived. I laughed a lot and settled in for a fun hour but then out came the dog...
Ward identifies as the mother of a small dog named Kyle. She loves that dog. Even we, the audience gave a loud "Awwww" when we saw his picture. Ward loves her dog so much she lost track when she saw his picture too.
I wish I could say this was the set up for some punchy humour but most of the rest of the show was cute stories about Kyle, a rather far fetched jealousy tale revolving around her girlfriend, and the trauma of sharing her dad's bathwater as a child.
The night was cute and gentle and I suspect an older audience might enjoy it, but I didn't find it edgy or relevant so as the night went on my laughter died. I should mention Ward has crafted a perfect template for a stand up routine and hit all the construction markers. It is more that because the material wasn't engaging for me I saw the architecture instead. It doesn't help that Ward does nothing with her appearance to engage us either.
I found myself (perhaps harshly) thinking of this show as middle class white privilege on display. Ward's boringly preppy ensemble was backed up by her stories about kissing girls in school.
Ward apparently went to a single sex school which, to me, indicates a private education. This becomes apparent with her assumption we all say goodbye to the opposite sex in the high school years.
In the dad water story she talks about getting roll ups in her lunch box every day. A nice score if you can get it!
The other (unintended?) give away was her story about her mom wanting to score ecstasy through her. Any lower class mother would know exactly where to score for herself!
The other tip is in the jealousy story when her girlfriend said she was selling the spare 42" TV they had been keeping in their closet... Still, nobody says comedy can't be classist. I am just not in her social strata so it was hard for me to relate.
The biggest disappointment was the coup d'etat joke. When she pulled out the tag line I didn't understand what she said and I never understood every time she said it even after I had figured it out by context. I am not saying comedians need perfect enunciation but you have to make a tag line clear. So here is my pro tip when you check out the show for yourself - when she says "Shatnet" Ward is actually saying shat in it. It will all make sense when you're there, trust me.
Ward has a good, if unassuming stage presence, and she crafts her comic journey well. I just would have liked material which actually spoke to me and that I felt I could care about. It probably doesn't help I am a cat person...
No Flirting is low key so it is a great inbetweener if you do a full night of Comedy at Trades Hall. Oh, and if you too identify as a mother to your dog you will fall crazy in love with Kyle.