Adelaide Fringe 2012

Fiona O’Loughlin in The Divine Miss O

0 Comments 18 March 2012

Presented by More+Comedy
@ Arts Theatre
THURSDAY 15th March

Most people know by now what to expect when they walk into a Fiona O’Loughlin show: anecdotes about her family; liberal use of the word ‘fuck;’ usually a rant or two about a handful of public figures; and plenty of cheerful references to her well-publicised problems with alcohol. This is pretty much exactly what you get at Fiona O’Loughlin in The Divine Miss O, the comedienne’s twelfth offering to the Adelaide Fringe in as many years.

Except she’s added something new this time. Interspersed between O’Loughlin’s stand-up segments are pre-recorded ‘interviews’ between Fiona and two outrageously gay PR agents at Bitch PR, an agency to which Fiona has supposedly gone in order to get an image makeover. It becomes increasingly obvious that O’Loughlin is targeting the gay audience with this particular show (the clincher being her entrance on stage in a Cher wig singing Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.) As O’Loughlin herself happily admits, she’s struggling to generate fresh material now that her kids are all grown up, which apparently means it’s getting increasingly difficult to tell embarrassing stories about them for public amusement. This new angle has good and bad repercussions for her act. While the Bitch PR video is good for a laugh – the guys in the video do hilarious impersonations of the bitchy gay stereotypes usually found in Hollywood rom-coms and American TV shows – the fakeness of the staged clips does clash with the ‘no bullshit’ persona that radiates from O’Loughlin every time she opens her mouth – a persona on which she’s built her entire career, in fact.

That being said, there were perks to the new format. Even I was looking forward to the cataclysmically-funny result when, at one point, O’Loughlin flounced onstage wearing a peroxide-yellow wig while a pre-recorded voice intoned ‘it doesn’t matter if you love Him, or capital H-I-M.’ While O’Loughlin piked out of that particular song before it had even started (Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, if you’re unfamiliar) she does close the show with a rendition of a Bette Midler tune you’ll be unlikely to forget anytime soon (I won’t give away the name.)

All the window dressing, however, doesn’t detract from the heart and soul of O’Loughlin’s show, which are still her stories about her family. Her poor kids are shown no mercy; one of them is casually and repeatedly referred to as a ‘big fat bald guy’ throughout the entire introductory segment. While I did notice one or two of O’Loughlin’s stories from previous live and TV gigs being sneakily recycled throughout this show, they were all so expertly told that I didn’t mind in the least hearing them again. O’Loughlin’s apparent inability to resist the humour of her own stories – she cracks up constantly throughout the show – only adds to their charm.

Throw in a rant about Dr. Phil, F-bombs exploding left, right and centre (including the rather awesome word ‘fuck-knuckle,’ which I’d never heard in my life before that night), and a closing story about a howlingly hilarious social gaffe from her time in rehab, and you have the latest proof as to why O’Loughlin, more than a decade into her career, continues to lead the pack in Australian comedy. The Divine Miss O, indeed.

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