REVIEW: Skeletons, Kirsty Mann - Melbourne International Comedy Festival

As a performer, Kirsty hates being at parties, because of the age-old small-talk question “What do you do?” If she says comedian, people expect her to be funny. If she says actor, people follow up with “What would I have seen you in?”

She’s right – people are more than their profession and Skeletons dives into the things people are, when they aren’t doing the things that are expected of them when you ask them what they do.

Kirsty also has a secret. She’s a doctor. But don’t tell anyone that – she wants to be taken seriously as a comedian!

Skeletons is a mix of stand-up and storytelling that zigs when you expect it to zag because when you’re juggling two jobs, you might never know where you’ll be in an hour. Especially when you’re on call at A&E or on the shortlist after an audition to play a doctor on Holby City.

Kirsty plays a lot of characters from her life – from an Irish friend (who she readily admits will sound awfully stereotypical) to a work colleague from Brisbane (whose accent she apologises for in advance). And those characters do a lot of the heavy comedy lifting, while Kirsty’s double-life weaves in a lot of drama.

And she finds it impossible to avoid the absolutely life-changing events of 2020, when her comedy star was on the rise and she suddenly found herself stuck in her doctor life, dealing with an influx of COVID patients and not being there for her sick father. It’s a sharp turn into very heavy stuff.

This show has a beautiful shape to it – the balance of an artistic life with a paying job is pretty universal, but the struggle between wanting to be funny and having to deal with life-and-death is the most extreme version of it. Kirsty is very funny, though, and she learned a lot about herself during the pandemic, which feels very relatable.

Skeletons is already an award-winning show at Edinburgh and Fringeworld in Perth and it’s off to a run at the Soho Theatre in London after she leaves Melbourne. I can see why – it’s sharp, thoughtful, wild and hilarious.

And when she asked me what I did for a living, I answered by telling her my day job (Procurement Officer) even though I was there doing this other job – Theatre Critic. Because some of us live double lives we don’t always readily admit to. Sorry to everyone who wasn’t aware I work in procurement!

- Keith Gow, Theatre First

Kirsty Mann is on as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festivaluntil April 7.