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April 18, 2012 / Siobhan Argent

Tina C in Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word – Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Published April 2012 in Crikey

If you’re really after a famous celebrity to tell you how you can better yourself, Tina is your gal. This ‘nine-time Grammy-award winning’ country music singer is here to discuss (in her painful southern twang) what she calls our ‘Abor-jye-nal’ issue. For her show Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word, she’s come equipped with a bunch of slideshows, a tiny pair of shorts and a scattering of diamantes slathered on most aspects of her coquettish country outfit. She’s the bitchy high-school friend you never wanted.

After interviewing artist Christopher Green recently, it’s hard to reconcile him with his most well-known character. She is this sequinned, fringe-covered woman with enviable legs, and he is the artist who only a few weeks ago sheepishly acknowledged to me his love for country music.

Tina is more than an antithesis to Green, she is Tina, a personality au fait. She is horrible but in a fascinating way, like picking an itchy scab, and so real that Green seems to disappear completely beneath the façade.

Tina C is not a drag show, at least not in the conventional sense. Green is simply inhabiting a different person in order to talk about controversial topics. It’s a shame, then, that the mere fact that he is playing a role seems to have thrust his particular brand of entertainment into the ambiguous cloud of parody shows, ones that don’t attempt anything near as interesting as what Green is doing here.

Take, for instance, Tina’s ‘guest’ on the show. Auriel Andrews is an Aboriginal country singer and tiny lady with a voice that will rip your heartstrings out and play them like a ukulele. Her rendition of ‘Yowie’, with its theme of motherhood, loss and the Stolen Generation, quells a somewhat cheerful crowd to stunned and emotional silence. Even the musician at hand, James Henry (the late Jimmy Little’s grandson) seemed to get a bit teary-eyed as the song drew to a close. But it works, if only just making it within the confines of a ‘comedy’ show. I’ll be darned if I know how Tina does it.

It’s difficult to designate a specific genre for this show. It’s part political polemic with a light touch, part character-acting and part straight-out comedy. Tina does have a tendency to get a tiny bit preachy. Fortunately Green mostly gets away with it because Tina only wants to make Jesus happy and create albums with titles like If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why Weren’t You Dead When I Met You? And when Tina flashes that game-show-host smile, you can only whimper, begrudgingly think ‘Oh, go ahead’, and then find yourself doing a line dance to a tasteless country remix of Abor-jye-nal-themed songs at the end of the show. While getting an Australian audience to do anything more strenuous than clap is a little like pulling teeth, Tina does manage to do it in the end. She makes it feel pretty fabulous.


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