British-born Emma Malik grew up with animals and has over a decade of professional animal handling and training. She’s drawn on this in her first solo stand-up show If You Can’t Train It, Eat It. The show is amusing and much less carnivorous than you may think from the title.
The cosy front room of the characterful Radio Bar in Fitzroy has the appeal of feeling like a Fringe venue. It was a nice change from some huge rooms at MICF where the performer is a distant speck for many in the crowd. Malik used the venue’s intimacy to good effect as she employed a very physical style in telling her comical animal tales.
These included her promotion from animal trainer to extra on a film set, and a spot on Thailand’s Got Talent that didn’t quite go to plan. Malik’s comfort around animals even made her a suitable candidate for Australian TV’s Farmer Wants A Wife.
As Malik jumped from bit to bit, it seemed that she might not appreciate how exotic some exploits from her well-travelled life would sound to an audience. We might benefit from hearing some details along her timeline, such as how a young woman from England came to work on a Thai crocodile farm.
If this relative newcomer’s show lacks some structure, it compensates with novelty. The show will hold a particular appeal to animal fans. Attendees will have a good view of a stick insect and Malik’s rescue dog from Thailand, the latter provided opportunity for some improvisation and interaction with the audience.
There’s a little swearing, but Malik invited the audience to judge if this is appropriate or not. The material doesn’t depend on profanities though, and a wide range of ages in attendance had solid laughs over the journey. Malik had some good payoffs where her world of animal training collided with the trials of modern life.
Still working part-time for a zoo in NSW, Malik is gearing up to perform more. She has another show lined up for the imminent Sydney Comedy Festival, which shows her commitment to turning her unusual background into laughs.
Malik has some cute and charming stories, and comes across as very genuine and caring about animals. That’s important to note so you don’t get the wrong idea from the show’s title, a potential misconception that’s explained in a story about Aussie larrikinism at the show’s conclusion.
Emma Malik: If You Can’t Train It, Eat It
Radio Bar, 79 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Performance: Wednesday 11 April 2018 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 22 April 2018 (Melbourne Town Hall – Monday 16 April)
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: Emma Malik (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte