Comedy Festival 2008, The Classic
May 5-10| Reviewed by Jacob Powell

WEARING a red dress and a nonchalant smile Julia Morris took the stage at the Classic this Wednesday evening, sized up the audience, and then launched into a trip around the world replete with stops at various bars, shops, and comedy shows along the way. When she mentioned at the beginning of the show that friends say she likes to talk, she wasn’t kidding! Seemingly indefatigable, this brash-cum-’bashful’ Australian barely stopped to take a breath as she filled the entire hour (plus change) with anecdotes about her travels along with sarcastic witticisms interjected every minute, and often a second, third, or even fourth self-rejoinder to these acid-laced comments she had just made. With nary a stumble in the whole course of the show, to simply say that Morris is confident a comedienne would be to undersell her total control of the stage. This lady knows what she’s about and you get the sense that things don’t often get away on her.

Her routine tracks an eight year sojourn away from her homeland discovering, simultaneously, the joys and foibles of what it is to be Australian in the world and dealing with her aggression in a range of situations: from being derided as fat/large by rude shop assistants as far spread as Singapore and Hollywood; to avoiding becoming the clichéd ‘classy’ Australian traveller; to bemoaning and mocking the extreme PCness of modern day Australia. Though Morris’ set never really dipped she did have her default fallback positions. These consisted of her frequently expressing in a lightly sarcastic manner that she wasn’t being judgemental, or that she was a bit slow, or that as a good Catholic girl she was shocked by her own use of language – all points being clearly untrue. These were almost like some kind of a mantra which she chanted throughout the show. Perhaps these were her mental breathing spaces?

If there was one thing that I was a little disappointed with – and I’m really quibbling now – it is that she traded a touch too heavily on the stereotypical crass, classless Australian image. Not that this didn’t settle well with the good NZ audience – it did – but she could have relied on it a little less. Still, her wit combined with a warm stage persona is more than enough to elevate her many ‘gutter moments’ to something more memorable, for example making aboriginal sound awfully like vaginal. The show ended on a high note with an extended anecdote about the mother of all bad days in the land that political correctness forgot (70s Australian television) involving a girl with no arms, some accidentally flambéed doves, and a live rendition of Stand by Your Man!?

With good use of accents, anecdotes, and observation Julia Morris is provides a high standard of pretty classic stand-up and lends some class to being a brash Australian.