MICF: Thalia Joan That’ll Do: The Glamour of Giving up

by | Mar 31, 2024

By Nick Pilgrim

In 2024, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is better than ever.  With enough content to fill a small phone book, there is something for everyone.  The bread and butter of this annual three-week event, stand-up and its many iterations is the most prevalent medium of all.

Modern society demands certain expectations of its young.  In particular, millennials appear put together even though they are falling apart at the seams inside. Taking this notion and running with it, Thalia Joan builds her act around the art of giving up. In other words, fake it until you make it! (Striding to the stage wearing form-fitting after five paired with white sneakers, was a nice touch that added to the overall theme ahead.)

Armed with a solid list of topics ranging from the pressure of making (and breaking) New Year resolutions to being stood up on a date, Thalia Joan exudes the high energy necessary to maintain and keep audience interest.  Further points of interest included turning thirty, trusting your gut in a crisis, and why trying jazz cabbage can be justified. (I had no idea it was a trendy nickname for marijuana until her show. So, you learn something new every day!)

Running at a tight forty-five minutes, the set simply flies by.

While her presentation appears scripted, polished, and well-rehearsed, Joan also has that innate skill necessary to make for a spontaneous evening’s entertainment. Meaning, her act never looks forced or laboured.  Sprinkling several musical numbers into the show (with one being based on an unhinged barrage of texts she sent to her date after the above-mentioned no-show), adds to the comic’s manic charm.

There is something quite therapeutic about milking personal trauma for laughs.  (Think legends such as Maria Bamford and Rita Rudner). In Joan’s case, doing it with a winning smile makes this experience all about perspective. Included within her lighthearted observations, Joan also asks some bigger questions such as “Are you where you expected to be in life?” Unexpected as this component is, gives her routine pertinent and lasting bite.

She also engages with her audience at key points during the performance, allowing us to further connect with and relate to her considered and topical material. For the shy girls and guys amongst us, there will be several moments of audience participation as well. You have been warned!

With a bubbly house style similar to stand-up stars such as Nikki Britton, Rachel Berger, and the late Cal Wilson, I could not think of a better way to kick off cocktail hour or a catch-up with friends. Joan also has a knack for running with a joke and wrapping it inside another one.  The level of concentration for this kind of anecdotal storytelling takes expert-level ability.

More than a standard set-up and punchline model consistent with stand-up comedy, Joan knows how to work the room and keep it personable. This alone is worth the price of admission.

Playing until Sunday, April 14 at The Dove Club in Little Collins Street, “That’ll Do: The Glamour of Giving Up” is definite food for thought.

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