So, Kitty Flanagan Live! – why the exclamation mark? Maybe because, for a time, Flanagan’s been off making comedy in other ways, like being an author (the book 488 Rules for Life and its sequel) or writing, directing, and starring in the ABC TV series Fisk.
But now it’s time to return to live stand-up. As her MICF blurb advises: “Kitty Flanagan Live is her brand-new show full of hard laughs, good times, handy hints and a catchy little tune about underpants.”
If you don’t know Flanagan’s style, then the above is a pretty good guide. She doesn’t do political gear or graphic sex stories. Instead, she mines the everyday struggles and little annoyances of city life for laughs.
As I recalled some time ago (and it’s still true) she’s given us some very memorable bits over the years. Certain topics for exploration started from her mother’s interest in technology, or odd behaviour as mum gets older, and what might be behind it.
Flanagan also took a critical view of herself, with some snappy material on how being shamed can be a good thing for some of us. Laughs were loud and plentiful, especially in response to some physical comedy, as Flanagan fluently navigated her range of topics.
There might have been a few highlights from past snows snuck in here, but the material stands up well. There was a hint of (relatable) disquiet around certain topics. For example, Flanagan recalled the book on puberty given to school students What’s Happening to Me? and regrets there aren’t other guides for later phases of life.
There are some changes since past MICF shows. Flanagan moved from Sydney to Melbourne in early 2020 and experienced all seven of the lockdowns here. Also, the usual concluding live song with sister Penny now occurs around the middle of the set.
The pair always harmonise well, and strangely, hearing them in person again after such a long time, felt like a step towards living a more normal life in Melbourne again.
If the CSIRO wanted to construct an Aussie stand-up comedy machine, it might come up with something like Kitty Flanagan. She cranks out the punchlines and payoffs at a rate that few of her contemporaries can match.
Certainly, a packed house at the Athenaeum Theatre were well pleased with their hour of Kitty Flanagan Live!
Kitty Flanagan Live!
Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins Street, Melbourne
Performance: Tuesday 4 April 2023 – 6.45pm
Season continues to 23 April 2023
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: Kitty Flanagan (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte