What better than a good laugh to forget the gloom of Labor's constant slide in the polls? Or as stand-up comedy artist Judith Lousy puts it, "Don't crack the shits, guys, crack a joke instead!"

Lousy sets the tone for this year's bigger-than-ever Argus Comedy Festival. "Basically we're about bringing a more cerebral approach to the business of belly laughs," explains the whacky monologuist whose stage delivery the Age recently described as "martini dry". A self-confessed "ball-breaker", Judith nevertheless sees herself as "having a healing role in a dysfunctional society". She may be "Australia's edgiest new comedy voice" (Gay Observer) but she is devoted to making this country "a place that's a bit less psychologically fucked than it is now". Her comedy, in other words, is therapeutic, or as she puts it herself": "My monologues, which are what my act basically consists of, are basically designed to encourage my audiences not so much to piss themselves - though of course they do - as to know themselves. So-called 'humorous' comedy by itself, without something that gets in under your skin, just leaves the audience's repressions bottled up behind a smokescreen of laughter. I go beyond the laughs to dissect the psyche and if that means what some people call talking dirty, I talk dirty."

Lousy was a rookie comedian in the Burchett Hill University students' Gang Bang Show when she was spotted by director and arts entrepreneur Robyn Lesdyke and invited to combine her feisty monologues with the part of Ophelia in Lesdyke's all-woman comedy staging of Romeo and Juliet at the Adelaide Festival. Gigs on IBC comedy shows followed. She was even invited to perform her "anti-religion anti-comedy" sketch "Jesus! You Actually Believe that Crap?" in a Compass edition on "Faith and Humour", though she declined scornfully when challenged by a conservative newspaper columnist to present a similar sketch on the Islamic religion, describing the challenge as "disingenious shit-stirring".

Lousy joins a strong international team of comedy talent for this year's festival. Guest performers include Scottish stand-up comedian Billy Foulis, Seamus O'Sweare, a stand-up comedian from Dublin, stand-up comedian Lenny Scheisser from New York, promising young New Zealand stand-up comedian Nelson Smutt, Fijian stand-up comedian Wesley Guano and, of course top Australian performers Will Krude, Dave O'Yawne and Marieke Esterhazy-MacPherson ("the blonde blackfella" who recently went to court to show that her 0.008 per cent of Tomanjeri blood qualified her as what she calls a "fully paid up Aboriginal person").

Last year's Argus Comedy Festival was universally acclaimed as the best yet although one critic in a right-wing journal ("fascist rag," shrieks Marieke) had the temerity to break ranks and said that having sat through "what must have been platoons of stand-up comedians not once was my face tempted into even the shadow of a smile." "God there are some sad-arses around," was Judith Lousy's reaction. "Lighten up, mate. Or why don't you just go and dig a hole and die in it?"

12 April 2012

1 comment:

  1. Classic Argus!

    I've missed your column in Quadrant.

    My favourite was your piece about Robert Hughes: 'Ah, the thrill of the open road!'

    More please.