Adelaide Fringe 2012

Claire Hooper – The Work

0 Comments 18 March 2012

Presented by Token Events
@ The Deluxe – The Garden of Unearthly Delights
FRIDAY 16th March

Most people have heard of Claire Hooper through the hit TV show Good News Week, where she acts as a team captain and channels her comedy stylings through discussions of current affairs with other A-list personalities from around Australia. The show she brings to the Adelaide Fringe, however, is quite different, instead drawing inspiration from Hooper’s views on art; namely, what does and doesn’t constitute it. One particular work she mentioned again and again throughout the show was a work of art which involved 100 million hand-painted porcelain replicas of sunflower seeds – is that art? Isn’t it?

It’s an odd choice of subject matter, and perhaps a rather limited one; while it could have filled a segment of her show, it wasn’t really enough to carry the whole thing. Laughter from the audience on her ‘art jokes’ was primarily of the polite and abbreviated kind rather than hearty and sustained, and there were long pauses between gags where Hooper seemed to struggle to think of what to say next. This is part of her onstage manner, of course, which unfortunately didn’t translate well to the acoustically-limited confines of The Deluxe at the Garden of Unearthly Delights. The same could also be said of her notoriously deadpan delivery, which does work within the confines of a well-amplified Channel 10 studio in Sydney, but at The Deluxe often came across as more subdued than intended, even lifeless at times.

However, despite all the aforementioned working against her, Hooper made the best of a bad situation and managed to carry the evening capably, if not spectacularly. Some of her other gags fell flat – the random emergence of a woman from a box onstage ten minutes into the show received a lukewarm reception from the crowd and made no sense to me at all. Especially since I couldn’t even see said box over the heads of the crowd, which means something as I’m six foot two.

Hooper’s best moments came when she broke free of her rehearsed routine and engaged with individual members of the crowd on the spur of the moment – the tried-and-true technique of greeting latecomers as they attempted to sidle past the stage to their seats drew laughs, as did her brilliant response to an audience member telling everyone about a letter to the editor she’d once written about the “state of the world.” “Don’t take this the wrong way, but… couldn’t you have just told your cat?” Points also to Hooper for carrying on like a trooper (yes, I went there) when two gentlemen near the back decided that the middle of her show was an excellent time to stage a loud, energetic conversation that filled the entire tent (luckily they left soon afterward.)

All in all, the show was still good enough for me to come out of it with an opinion of Claire Hooper as an excellent comedian who picked a bland idea for a show. I still have faith in you, Claire. But next time, drop the sunflower seeds.

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