That’s One Damn Sexy Ape

That’s One Damn Sexy Ape is exactly what Melbourne International Comedy Festival is about, for better or for worse. Where else could a show about a hunky ape both terrorising and arousing guests at a local zoo find its audience? 

Our sexy ape is Bubo (the suitably sexy, Christopher Trimarchi). Born in captivity, he’s been a staple of the zoo for over twenty years, quietly whiling away the time. That is until he’s suddenly thrown into the spotlight when an errant toddler stumbles into his enclosure.

Having lost the public’s favour, our zookeepers (Rupert Bevan and Perri Cummings) enlist the help of a public relations team (Asher Griffith-Jones and Dax Carnay) who decide it’s time to lean into Bubo’s natural assets. 

Directed and written by Melbourne-staple Gavin Roach, the show is at its chaotic best when it leans into this absurd premise. A strip tease to Billie Eilish from our horny primate was sheer dumb fun, and a boardroom brainstorming techniques to increase Bubo’s sex appeal even funnier. But despite being only forty-minutes, the show feels too long.

It stumbles past various underdeveloped side-plots – from a romance between zookeeper and ape, to Bubo’s retirement – or shoehorns in last-minute character arcs that feel completely unearned. There’s always room for sheer tomfoolery at Com Fest, but this is a show that unfortunately thins out its initially evocative premise so much that it can only pull out cheap gimmicks to fill the time.

These are capable actors, but too often, scenes descend into screaming matches, overacted punchlines, or exaggerate moments of slapstick. In the close quarters of the La Mama Courthouse, it felt particularly messy. Cumming’s calm restraint was a welcome reprieve. There’s certainly a good show here, but more work is needed for it to really work.

That’s One Damn Sexy Ape
La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton
Season: 16 – 21 April 2024 (ended)

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Image: Christopher Trimarchi as Bubo in That’s One Damn Sexy Ape – photo by Darren Gill

Review: Guy Webster