I have to give full credit to Wil Anderson – if just for being a man who takes chances on things. The story goes that while in Auckland for the New Zealand Comedy Festival last year, he stumbled into comedy club The Classic to find a bunch of twenty-somethings spinning tales on Harry Potter and Spiderman. Overjoyed with what he saw, he brought the Fan Fiction crew – Rose Matafeo, Heidi O’Loughlin, Tom Furniss, Joseph Moore and Steven Boyce to Melbourne to unleash their white hot lashings of pop culture references and questionable storytelling on an unsuspecting public. And in a country where one can see episodes of the Big Bang Theory up to fifteen times a week, putting on FanFiction Comedy at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is a very smart move – a captive audience awaits.
The show moves quickly – the FanFiction crew along with special guests (at time of review, made up of Justin Hamilton, Adam Richards, and Wil Anderson) race through stories based on television, film, and comic characters. The stories are all unique but share a common theme – they are all hyper-detailed, and are often concerned with story elements that you wouldn’t see on the screen or page. Moore kicks things off with a hilarious Junior Masterchef: Australia story detailing one contestants wish for a date, spelt out in barbecue sauce. Furniss moves Sex and the City to the Gold Coast, a world full of Zumba lessons and bad accents. O’Loughlin’s letter on the Hufflepuff badger draws hard laughs from the Harry Potter fans in the audience, while Anderson gets jokey on a tale of what Batman is up to now with the Joker behind bars (spoiler: Arkham Asylum is turned into a Pie Face). Hamilton and Richards even get touching with stories of a friendship between The Flash and a young boy, and Sarah-Jane dealing with an unruly Doctor. Steven Boyce provides special comments following each story, either asking hyper-detailed questions of his own (“Does The Flash only have fast legs, or is the whole of his body fast? Because it would be weird if his legs moved fast but his arms moved at normal speed.”) or letting us known his background with the subjects (“I read all the Harry Potter books. Until she started writing more.”).
Ultimately, you don’t even need to be a big fan fiction nerd to enjoy this show. While it helps to be a pop culture fan, the comedy offered is universal and the storytelling interesting and well-written. The audience enjoys it but the nine members on stage love it even more, frequently laughing at each other’s tales and enjoying each other’s company. While the show could easily go beyond its assigned 75 minutes it keeps a careful eye on the clock, so if you’re not enjoying the story on right now, you’ll be presented with a new one in less the next five minutes. FanFiction Comedy keeps the smiles coming throughout leaving you feeling like a million bucks by the end. Like an evil super-villian, there is no reason that FanFiction Comedy can’t conquer Melbourne, if not the world.
- Mike Brown