Wednesday, April 13, 2016


I went out with some friends last night to catch some more comedy. I decided on Paul Culliver, a young stand up comedian who won the Comedy Award at the Perth Fringe Festival, which suggested that his show might not be disappointing and unfunny.

As it turned out, this was merely a suggestion.

I'm not quite sure how Culliver won the award for exactly the same show as he was presenting in Melbourne, given that his show was worse than any of the comedy performances I saw at Perth Fringe. Did he blackmail someone? Offer sexual favours to a judge with a fetish for physically lackadaisical suburban youths? Or (and I think this is the most likely reason) did he luck onto the rare Perth judge with exactly the right level of PC sanctimony and self-loathing to find his show dazzling... although not actually funny in any accepted sense.

There's something depressing about a cosseted white boy presuming to lecture an audience on white privilege and, in the process, mansplaining and whitesplaining sexism and racism. Far from the wryly humorous speaker of truth he no doubt imagines himself to be, he came across as a pampered little prince who'd never realised that his way is not the only way and his realisations are not groundbreaking, except perhaps to mummy's bridge friends.

The most ironic thing is that he probably took a place in the Festival from a non-white person or a woman who could have told us about racism or sexism from the perspective of someone who'd actually experienced it. Talk about appropriation.

Fortunately after that the night perked up. I was taken to a restaurant accessed by some back stairs off a laneway, which turned out to specialise in rotisserie chicken, like a Nando's reinterpreted by the cool kids from an art college. I didn't catch the name, which is unfortunate, as I'd like to recommend it.

This was followed by drinks at Melbourne institution Siglo. Siglo is a rooftop bar on the fourth floor of a Victorian building on Spring Street, an adjunct to The European restaurant. While we were there the staff silently retracted the roof, offering lovely views of the treetops, Parliament House and Parliament Gardens. My friends and I dropped by for a nightcap and ended up staying for several.

It saddens me to think that a place like Siglo wouldn't survive in Perth. I remember glancing at my watch and realising that it was nearly midnight on a Tuesday, but the bar was still thronging with people chatting, laughing, drinking martinis and smoking cigars. Melbourne is not by any means a 24 hour city - there are only a handful of 24 hour supermarkets, and good luck finding a tram after midnight - but in the romantic comedy of Australian urban life it's like the manic dream pixie girl played by Zooey Deschanel to Perth's uptight conservative bumbler played by Michael Cera. Even if Siglo were somehow magically duplicated into one of Perth's few remaining buildings older than Gangnam Style, by 10pm they'd have shut down the espresso machines and locked up the liquor cabinets, and by 10.15pm they'd be calling security on the people who hadn't left yet.

In fact the only place less likely to survive a cross-Nullabor transplant is Madame Brussels. Which saddens me even more.


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