Stephen Hall: Letters From My Heroes

by | Apr 3, 2023

By Nick Pilgrim 

For more than a decade, I have had the good fortune to review The Melbourne International Comedy Festival. During this time, these shows covered as many themes and variations as the jam-packed calendar allows.

That being said from a comic perspective, Letters From My Heroes is brand new territory for me.

A veteran actor of stage and television (Bond-A-Rama,Fawlty Towers Live, Spamalot, Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell) Stephen Hall merges his brilliant gift for vocal mimicry with a compelling narrative on what makes a star.

Showcasing more than twenty local or international entertainers and identities in snapshot succession, he details and deconstructs their various quirks and mannerisms with confident and devilish, pinpoint accuracy. A hypothetical journey is locked into place, where Hall pretends to write to each of them for career advice. In no special order, the artists featured in these imaginary replies include:

  • Woody Allen
  • Shane Bourne
  • Pierce Brosnan
  • Bill Connelly
  • Sean Connery
  • Maurie Fields
  • Morgan Freeman
  • Dawn French
  • Paul Hogan
  • Dave Hughes
  • Liam Neeson
  • Jack Nicholson
  • Michael Parkinson
  • Joe Pesci
  • Rodney Rude
  • Jennifer Saunders
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Homer Simpson
  • Jason Statham
  • Christopher Walken

Never far from turning the tables on himself either, Hall demonstrates expert flair for physical comedy as well. One segment where he impersonates a ventriloquist’s dummy from the doll’s perspective is pure magic.

The impetus for making this kind of show is drawn from a highly personal story about how Hall’s father left when he was six years old. Struggling to find meaning without a key male figure to guide him, allows Hall to dive deep into the entertainment industry for assistance instead.

Walking a politically correct thin line but never crossing it, Hall also addresses what it means to be a white middle-aged man doing stand-up. Meaning, certain impersonations which may have been funny once, aren’t acceptable now.

Ending the show on a high note, Hall ties all the impressions together in a clever tribute set to Spandau Ballet’s iconic eighties hit, Gold.

If the opening night audience’s engaged enthusiasm was any indication, the show’s swift fifty-minute running time will leave you impressed and amazed. I defy anyone with an appreciation for this special gift, not to leave satisfied and charmed by Letters From My Heroes.

Playing until Sunday April 23 at the ACMI – Swinburne Studio, this is a festival must-see.

 

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