Comedian Ben Pobjie steps offstage to review and rate his audience at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.


Audience: Ben Pobjie’s Trigger Warning

Venue: The Forum, Melbourne International Comedy Festival

**1/2

The audience began this show with great promise, managing to find their seats and occupy them with smooth confidence, suggesting good things to come. Hopes were further raised when they applauded warmly as I took the stage and responded well to my opening joke.

However, it quickly became clear that while great at making first impressions, the audience’s inexperience and what might have been first-night nerves were going to cost them. For a start, the crowd committed the unforgivable sin of being too small. In a room that can fit thirty, the audience only numbered around twelve – better preparation and tighter direction could’ve avoided this glitch.

It also rapidly emerged that, while they started strong, the audience lacked a full hour’s worth of decent material. The early stuff included an excellent riff on how hilarious I am; but halfway through the show I became quite embarrassed at the poor quality and unoriginality of the spectators’ muted chuckles and observations on awkward silence. Frankly, the cliché of the audience that isn’t intelligent enough to understand my jokes has been over-played in recent years, and it did this audience no credit to rely so heavily on this tired trope.

Things did pick up a little late in the piece with some solid comedian participation work – one audience member in particular had a witty routine about what he did for a living and whether the lady next to him was his girlfriend. But even this ran out of gas – subsequent riffs on what made one bloke late and whether they’d seen anything good on TV lately falling flat.

By the time the finale rolled around, a rather limp variation on the old ‘slightly confused clapping’ routine, this comedian was well and truly glad to get out of their company.