"The festival bookers should be congratulated on their work and we can't wait to go back next year."
Rottofest brings together some of Australia's best comedy acts for a full day of laughing in an all too rare festival atmosphere. The excitement as this reviewer stepped off the ferry and onto Rottnest Island was at breaking point. The build-up around the festival had sold it hard and it was time to see if it delivered.
The Vulture Culture Comedy Hall was packed with patrons, beers in hands, ready to enjoy the first show of the day at dead on midday. The Gala was where the acts would all have five minutes to help you decide who to spend time enjoying for the rest of the day and they didn't disappoint.
The MC was Danny McGinlay who brought the audience up with his high energy anecdotes and some of the festival's best act-outs. Rebecca De Unamuno was the first of the acts and her strong improv background really shone through in her audience interaction. Sami Shah was a crowd favourite, as was Chris Wainhouse. Dave Callan came from the left field, spending five minutes dancing to Britney Spears with moves that couldn't be topped until Sami Shah was spotted hitting the dance floor later that night. The US's Eddie Ifft and his views of Australian culture got the job done. Finally it was time for triple j breakfast show host Matt Okine; the audience loved his mix of short anecdotes with hard and fast opinions. With a schedule for the day locked in, it was time to see some comedy. This is how it went down.
Sam Cribb was the MC for the first main event at The Laugh Bunker. The audience was packed in and Cribb had us hanging on his every word. He regaled us with tales of a 23-year-old struggling to get his life on track. The headline act was De Unamuno, who weaved between solid material and crowd work with ease. Her anecdotes about navigating the singles scene and her improvised Shakespearian monologues brought the atmosphere in the room to a peak.
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Glenn Grimwood was the opening act for the next show in the same room. Sami Shah described him as a new Perth comedian who is "smashing it" — and he certainly did. He found the humour in the depressing tales of a man who was unemployed and couldn't find a woman. Shah was performing the first semblance of what will become his 2016 fringe festival show. He waxed lyrical about Australian politics and racism. For a comedian that's only been in Australia for a handful of years his views were amazingly on point.
It was off to Gov's Bar for the next show. The MC was Cameron McLaren, who pulled out his solid gold to warm up the crowd for Al Del Bene. From the US and now living in Sydney, Del Bene kept the well-lubricated audience entertained with stories about his multi-faceted approach to life. Of particular note was his ability to maintain control in a very rowdy room.
The final show attended for the day was opened by Corey White. He whipped the audience into a frenzy of laughter with his edgy brand of comedy before welcoming Chris Wainhouse to the stage. Wainhouse's comedy can only be described as subtle genius. Some of his punchlines were so beautifully weaved that half the audience looked on in confusion as the other half laughed. His words about the bible had both atheists and the religious in stitches — which is no small feat — before he switched to wank jokes with equally great success.
The festival was a wrap as far as comedy was concerned but there was plenty of partying left to be done at the various venues around the island. There was more comedy than anyone could possibly fit in over the day and disappointingly we missed out on Fiona O'Loughlin along with Matt Okine's solo show.
Our pick for the festival would have to be Rebecca De Unamuno — if you get the chance to see her comedy then take it. As for the festival, if it sounds like the comedians couldn't do anything wrong, it's because they couldn't. The festival bookers should be congratulated on their work and we can't wait to go back next year.