The annual Feast Comedy Debate is a personal highlight of the year and the first date locked into my diary from the Feast Festival program before I even begin to look at other offerings.
The event centres on two teams, comprising three comedians each, who debate either for or against the chosen topic. The seventh member is the host, who keeps things moving and, occasionally, under control as the comedians battle it out for the final audience vote.
The proceedings can be as random as the topic, as evidenced last year when regular participant Lori Bell hosted and quickly lost control, creating a highly entertaining evening of ad libs and interruptions; or when drag queen Malt Biscuit hosted in 2011, keeping the proceedings on track but spicing it up with some good old fashioned lip syncing routines.
This year saw popular entertainer and Feast’s Artistic Director, Catherine Fitzgerald, take the reins, introducing Nath Valvo, Geraldine Hickey and Malt Biscuit to argue for the topic Same Sex Marriage – Why Bother? Arguing the uphill battle against the idea of marriage equality were Lori Bell, Sally Goldner and Thomas Jaspers.
Falling far short from previous years, the debate elicited enormous laughs nonetheless, thanks to the quick quips and unexpected antics of the comedians. Fitzgerald, sadly, began proceedings by introducing all but herself then brought the comedy to a standstill before the first of two intermissions by announcing poor ticket sales to some Feast events and asking the crowd to support the festival more. It was neither the time nor place for the announcement and could have been handled in a much better way at the end of the night.
What did work, were the comedians, with Nova FM’s Nath Valvo ringing his mum for her 61st birthday, Malt Biscuit parading in a wedding dress, and Thomas Jaspers envisioning the melodrama of gay divorce. Only Sally Goldner disappointed, opting for facts over fun. With only 5 minutes each to present their case however, the debates all moved quickly.
Only one of the two intervals were necessary for such a short show, giving the team captains an opportunity to prepare their final responses. Even so, this one-night only event remains a Feast highly and an annual comedy highlight for myself. It’s a showcase of some of our best comedians, who get to strut their stuff with both prepared material and on the fly. It remains fresh and relevant each year and I’m already waiting for the date to pen next year’s event in my diary.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
The Feast Festival runs until 24 November with a full program of events available from website.
- Feast Festival
- Lori Bell Comedy
- Nath Valvo
- Geraldine Hickey
- Thomas Jaspers on YouTube
- Sally Goldner of Twitter
Feast Comedy Debate
When: 20 November 2013
Where: Fowlers Live, Lion Arts Centre
Photo: Comedienne Lori Bell. Source: Feast Festival Facebook page