Wine and comedy shows are a lot alike. To be memorable they need to distinguish themselves from the many standard offerings around. The Wine Bluffs with Paul Calleja and Damian Callinan seemed to have a good angle on this. Their show aimed to find humour in skewering snobbishness around wine appreciation.
Well, that’s what it said on the label at least, yet like wine, it’s what’s inside that counts. The show introduced us to Calleja and Callinan playing wine judges. They began by spinning some yarns to educate us on how the business of wine tasting wasn’t as glamorous as we might have thought, especially on the regional circuit.
The show felt a little like another genre pisstake – Jimeoin’s Cooking Show with Jimeon and Bob Franklin. The Wine Bluffs had Callinan bringing the body with a very physical style of presentation, and some dry touches from Calleja.
However, while Jimeoin’s Cooking Show had a lot of absurd surprises and punchy pacing, The Wine Bluffs was too often flabby, lacking definition. Often the blend just wasn’t a sound combination of elements. Some sections, such as one on trying to find the biggest wine wanker in the crowd went on much too long for not a great payoff, as did a segment where the judges instructed a punter in tasting on stage.
Our hosts weren’t very convincing in their roles as they didn’t show us much wine knowledge. As a result, they lacked the sharp insights needed to skewer our vinous pretentions or foibles. However, some of their behaviour – which wouldn’t have been out of place near the end of a big bus tour of a wine region – was as raucous as old-school Barossa shiraz, and was enjoyed by the crowd.
I’d been unable to see this show at a few festivals over the years and was looking forward to cracking open this vintage. I had hoped for a crisp outing. Many in the house appreciated their tasting. Others will find The Wine Bluffs needs more refinement before it becomes a memorable drop.
The Wine Bluffs
The Melba Spiegeltent, Johnston Street, Collingwood
Performance: Saturday 21 April 2018 – 5:30pm
Image: Paul Calleja and Damian Callinan (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte