Sara Schaefer: Going Up

MICF23-Sara-Schaefer-Going-UpOur top-of-brain recollections of comedy festivals might include certain common topics presented via stand-up, with varying degrees of swearing and success. But, there’s a craft and an art to comedy, and American Sara Schaefer knows more about this than many.

Her MICF show Going Up is a seminar aiming to educate her “pre-comic” audience on how to rise through the levels standing between an unpaid performer and comedy stardom.

The show is “Direct from opening runs in New York and at San Francisco Sketch Fest.” Yet, a MICF audience might feel that something has been lost in translation here.

As our host, Schaefer used different views of certain situations to explain the differences between alternative styles, such as those of the “misdirection” or “sex” comic.

The segments were often a touch long as we generally had a good idea of where these were going. Quite regularly our responses to revelations were more like an internal “Mm, that’s interesting” than loud laughter.

Our host appeared in a dark denim coveralls, as if she was trying to hide that she is a woman. There were also sporadic accounts of the verbal and physical violence Schaefer endured across her career, mostly from male comics, and her own negative self-talk.

It might just be that, despite the unreal cult setup, the amount of real trauma here can shunt an audience out of a mindset for appreciating comedy.

However, the show generally did very well in creating the vibe of a recruitment session for something like Scientology. There was insider terminology, sacred symbols, and a certain mysticism about the mission of ascending the rungs towards greater levels of success.

Schaefer varied her presentation by using a variety of props and styles. Her projected slides showed figurines in scenes from the world of comedy, and were a regular source of amusement.

Between these, and the miniatures deployed live, you have to respect Schaefer’s attention to detail and commitment to her particular slant on the artform.

Going Up is well outside of the mainstream, and Schaefer’s courage in pursuing that is admirable. One expects that it would be fascinating to hear more of Schaefer’s views and experiences of comedy. The outing is likely to produce much more post-show conversation than many at MICF 2023.

Sara Schaefer: Going Up
Melbourne Town Hall (Cloak Room), 100 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Performance: Wednesday 5 April 2023 – 7.50pm
Season continues to 23 April 2023
Information and Bookings:

Image: Sara Schaefer (supplied)

Review: Jason Whyte