REVIEW: Saturn Return Policy, Jaxson Garni - Melbourne International Comedy Festival

In astrology, the “Saturn Return” is when Saturn returns to the same place in the sky as when you were born. While the planet Saturn has an orbit that lasts closer to thirty years, astrologists consider the power of Saturn’s Return to kick in around the age of 27. Performer Jaxson Garni faced a lot at age twenty-seven and his show reckons with everything that changed – and whether or not it’s helped him figure out what really makes him happy.

Saturn Return Policy has a strong conceit – reflecting on job loss, a change in direction and an overseas trip that Jaxson hoped might push his career as a comedian to new heights. But the show is rather formless, skidding from one anecdote to another and not really taking advantage of the central concept. Jaxson opens by asking the crowd if they believe in the idea of “Saturn’s Return” without really exploring what it means. If you’re going to hang your show on an idea, define it first. And if you think people might change their mind during the course of the show, the show has its work cut out for it.

Jaxson has a lovely stage presence and knows how to work a crowd. Some of his comedic observations are smart and funny but a series of humorous stories don’t always lead to a cohesive show. Jaxson talks about shifting from stand-up to drag, but I would have liked him to explore this more – why make that change? What is it that he likes about drag over comedy? And what’s the overlap between the two that might make this show unique?

There’s nothing wrong with a comedy show veering from topic to topic, but if you’re going to give your show a thematic throughline, every bit has got to add more and more to that discussion. And if you promise a fifty-minute show, make sure you’re not looking for bits to pad it out after half-an-hour.

Maybe it’s good that Jaxson has found drag, because this set was a bit of a mess.

- Keith Gow, Theatre First

Saturn Return Policy is on at Melbourne International Comedy Festival every weekend until April 21.