One of the best things about the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is that it goes someway to redressing the balance with the mostly awful comedy on Australian television. For three-and-a-bit weeks we get to do our own bit of people power programming from a list of acts that we’d otherwise never see; acts like Brisbane’s Melinda Buttle who only emphasise the gap between what we are served on our screens and who’s really out there for us.
Touted as ‘possibly Australia's only juvenile delinquent-teaching, rap-battling gourmand to ever don a vintage frock on the comedy stage’ Mel is performing her show Sista Got Flow far from any TV cameras, tucked away in the cosy Backstage Room at Melbourne Town Hall. I’m pleased to report Mel is all the things she claims to be, plus one vital ingredient; she can tell a damn good story (though her vintage frock was very nice too). Sista indeed do got flow – neither loudly-cackling late arrivals nor my friend’s phone going off towards the show’s crescendo could knock her off stride.
The evening had three acts; one concerning her nonsensical relationship with her no-nonsense dad, another about taking on teenagers in her charge by channelling her inner Eminem; and the last on the rather delicate matter of her readily available but still allegedly un-popped cherry. True or not this last issue is handled beautifully, including me being reacquainted with the delights of the word ‘fingered’ and Mel’s aw-bless observation that her milkshake has been known to scare away boys who have shown interest in her yard…
Whether commiserating with her attempts to educate her parents on the 21st century, marvelling at her genuinely impressive rhyming skills (though I admit to finding something slightly comical about Aussie hip-hop anyway) or coming over all sisterly at her failed attempts to get boys to touch her naughty bits, watching Melinda Buttle do her thing was a real pleasure – and especially so because she seems like a genuinely nice person. I recommend catching her soon before she gets her wish and someone (or Channel 10) comes along and corrupts her.
Sista Got Flow is showing at the Backstage Room, Melbourne Town Hall (Tue-Sat 9.30pm, Sun 8.30pm) until April 18. Tickets are advertised as $17 but when we booked we were told they were $15 for everyone… Go figure.
Visit Mel’s website here or her MySpace here