Monday, 18 September 2017

Melbourne Fringe: The First Annual (Doris to Insert) Festival


Welcome to Bess County, somewhere in rural Australia. Their quirky inhabitants are getting ready to put on a Festival for the first time and, because it’s 2017, there is a reality TV show that is going to judge them. And, if they are lucky, Australia’s Got Festivals’ host Grant Denyer might pay them a visit.

Australia has a rich history of sketch comedy and that’s what The First Annual (Doris to Insert) Festival is, a series of sketches about the denizens of Bess County trying to impress the whole country with their personalities and their wares.

The show starts off on shaky ground, with a couple of skits that relied heavily on the most juvenile of sexual innuendo. The show is devised by members of the Improv Conspiracy, but this isn’t off-the-cuff, so you’d hope they could have trimmed some of these dud gags.

Thankfully, the show improves, once we get to know some of the recurring characters and the ongoing story of the missing-in-action Mayor of Bess County, who is skyping them from Rio de Janeiro. While the ladies of the town are excited by possible Denyer sightings, local radio host Gary Biskit explodes in expletives at the mention of his name.

Doris is trying to kickstart her new couture business, making jeans for snakes. And a local bloke, concerned about how beauty pageants might be perceived in this day and age, decides to parade sheep in bikinis. The ghost tour of the town was the absolute highlight, though.


There are plenty of solid laughs in the back half of this show and kudos to the team for interacting with pre-recorded video and adding in a couple of catchy tunes. With a bit more thought, some tough choices and a firmer hand, this show could be tighter and funnier; making fun of festival fever is a solid premise for a comedy. 

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