Felicity Ward – Busting A Nut

1 April 2019 | 10:54 am | Anthony Carew

"Ward delivers classic stand-up, barrelling forward in search of laughs, even if that means making jokes about farts."

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Like the thrill of the slide warning of mature subject matter that appeared before a Degrassi episode, the sign outside Felicity Ward’s MICF show promises strong language, adult themes, and, oh, god, crowd participation. There’s not much of the latter, not really, but when a crew of four files in ten minutes in to Busting A Nut, they’re quizzed on their lateness, leading to a long, ad-hoc back and forth on parking in Melbourne’s CBD. Ward lived here for five years, she assures us, so she’s almost a local; although it's a shorter stint than the six years she’s now spent living in London.

Melbourne traffic and a love/hate relationship with London are staples of comic conversation, be it on stage or off, and Ward hits plenty of familiar material: tales of family holidays, new husbands, marriage, weddings, mothers-in-law, yoga classes, Instagram. At a time when performers are poking at the form and meaning of a stand-up set, taking things to new and uncomfortable places, Ward delivers classic stand-up, barrelling forward in search of laughs, even if that means making jokes about farts.

Ward’s most aided by her sense of boisterous energy, the physicality of much of her comedy, the elasticity of her vocal delivery. She has a great grasp of callbacks, bringing back old punchlines at unexpected times, often having two prior gags collide into one. There’s some dexterous moments of misdirection, where the joke comes at an unexpected time, or from an unexpected place; the best of those — which she acknowledges herself, proud as punch with her lines — both being about her arsehole.

It’s funny stuff, delivered with elan, but as a whole Ward’s set — especially for those hoping for more exploration of mental health, as she did with Felicity’s Mental Mission — maybe feels a bit lacking. “That felt like it came from a place of truth, didn’t it?” she says, at one point, as a wry bit of self-commentary. But while Busting A Nut was filled with truths, few of them seem hard-earned. Instead, the laughs come easily. The show may come with a warning, but there’s no real provocation.