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April 4, 2012 / Siobhan Argent

Anne Edmonds in My Banjo’s Name is Steven – Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Published April 2012 at Crikey

While Anne Edmonds’ show My Banjo’s Name is Steven does indeed include the titular banjo, this is really a show about how we should all feel better about the fact we’re not Anne. If anything, the special blend of Edmonds’ comedy has a strong focus on proving to the audience just how much you should be glad you’re not her. It’s not so much a sad-sack affair as a celebration of crotch-thrusting and the Australian way of taking the piss, even if you’re taking yourself down. And Edmonds  – in all her nanna-bather glory – plays on the pity-someone-else theme, because while the audience pities Anne Edmonds, she pities a former housemate called Rebecca, who has a naff Aussie accent and a propensity to moon at North Melbourne football club haters. You know that whatever happens, you just have to hope to goodness that Rebecca’s never going to see this show.

Edmonds has the type of naturally hopeless persona that works well with this particular vein of comedy. This includes a pretty duet between piano player ‘Amy’ and Edmonds, who sings about being forced to parade around the streets of Glen Iris in bathers from Savers. Edmonds has clearly found the type of comedy that suits her, primarily the one that offers plenty of opportunities to do wicked dork dances and heaps of booty-shaking (this was a recurring motion that, I argue, could become a theme on its own). My preferred Edmonds physical comedy schtick is what I will affectionately refer to as her ‘Oh shit’ face; it was the look Edmonds gave every time she made a crack about bad anal sex, being addicted to McLeod’s Daughters or any other selection from the cornucopia of humiliating stories she must have tucked away in her comedy repertoire.

Edmonds has a small attempt at personification, hence the title My Banjo’s Name is Steven, but there’s little else about this show that really has much to do with Steven at all. Sure, Steven makes a few brief and valuable appearances, particularly in a song describing the suicidal plans of a depressed possum named Jimbo, but this is more a show about Anne being hapless and weird, which seems to be one of the most beloved themes of Australian comedy for, well, ever.

There are some absolutely golden moments, and while it took her a few minutes to work her way into the opening of the show, the end was a credit to her entire theme of social ineptitude. Perhaps the most important note was that Edmonds ended on a high note. You may never, however, look at nanna clothing the same way again.

Anne Edmonds in My Banjo’s Name is Steven is on Tuesday – Saturday at 7:15pm and Sunday at 6:15pm, from 29th March – 22nd April.


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