MICF: Ashley Apap Restless

by | Apr 1, 2024

By Jessica Taurins

Ashley Apap is restless, but we didn’t need the title of her show to figure that out.

Half-energetic and half-exhausted, Apap is a comedy powerhouse running on adrenaline and good vibes from the crowd. Her show at the 2024 Melbourne International Comedy Festival is titled ‘Restless’, centred mentally around her ever-running brain, and physically around an adorably decorated bed onstage with cutesy pillows and an Eeyore plush.

‘Restless’ is a bid for connection from Apap with the audience and the world around her. She is candid about her chronic illnesses, including but not limited to ADHD, funky ankles, and bowels that can’t be tamed, and that instantly brings the audience closer to her.

The show is one with a lot of audience interaction, she encourages us to sit up close in the already-intimate performance space to take part, but it isn’t uncomfortable. Apap is skilled in making a typically scary thing – talking to a comedian during their live comedy show! – just like a chat with a friend.

She is eager to hear what keeps us awake or how we try to fall asleep each night, while regaling us with tales of embarrassment that have kept her up at night as well. Her truths are comedic, sure, but vulnerable as well, and are delivered with an air of sincerity that makes us feel like a family.

Then, to break the tension, she says a little pun and grins a charming grin and reminds us that we’re supposed to be having fun.

Apap’s constantly speeding brain and her stream-of-consciousness performance style are wonderfully crafted to keep the audience on their toes, experiencing her world alongside her. Accessibility rules in Apap’s shows, as she pushes hard for accessible venues, has an evening where the show is Auslan translated, and has performance recordings and live streams for those who can’t attend in person.

For her personally, she can be derailed – a few times by her parents in the audience, and a few where she loses track of where she’s up to in her script. However, her confidence to call for a prompt from her director-slash-tech makes any momentary pauses utterly forgettable in the face of her ability to go with the flow.

Apap is a transcendent performer who continues to shine each and every night. She brings humanity a little closer each night in ‘Restless’ and should absolutely be the top of anyone’s list of great Australian comedians.

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