FRINGE: Huggers – Comedy – The Bunka @ The Austral – 3K

Let’s face it, a lot of comedy shows at the Fringe rely pretty heavily on jokes about sex and drinking, and you’d be hard pressed to find one that isn’t also littered with expletives. It’s interesting to see that in the last few years, a new breed of comedy has started to emerge, in which artists offer up something more orientated towards kids, generally as an addition to their night time adults-only shows. Huggers is the latest of these, having its inaugural Adelaide Fringe performance on Saturday. It is a variety show and over the hour the audience got to see a mix of music, magic and comedy, all designed to be “family friendly”.

MC, and organiser, Nik Coppin warmed up the crowd with a bit of light banter and the audience seemed to be generally receptive. The opening act, Mike ‘Dr Blue’ McKeon, usually offers a night of acoustic blues and did very well to adjust his act for the younger audience. The kids had a great time making up rhymes for a song and clapping along to the beat, while the adults got the humour in the double meaning to the song which sailed safely over the kids’ heads.

Next up were a string of comedians, David Burke, Massimo (from the three Canadians) and Michael Connell. It appears that when comedians are told to tell a clean joke, their material invariably involves their mothers somehow. Maybe this was a tactic – kids don’t have a lot of life experience, but mothers are one thing they’re going to know about, so it’s a way to connect with them. The stories were all genial and amusing, though more so for the adults in the audience, and by the end of the third comedian, the kids were getting a little restless.

Happily, the final act for the day was cheeky Irish comedian/magician Patrick McCullach, who hit all the right notes. Crammed into his ten minutes were several very fine sleight of hand tricks involving ropes, cards, and cups and balls. He had a very natural rapport with the young audience, sending some into fits of giggles, while also charming the adults with his joviality.

While not every act was a hit with every audience member, there was something for everyone and this is a great way to introduce kids to the Fringe. The biggest downfall was probably that much of the comedy didn’t quite work for the younger members of the audience and so it might have been an idea to have another variety act in the middle of the show to keep the momentum flowing a bit better.  Overall though, the kids seemed to have a good time and, as a parent in the audience commented to me, it was a more entertaining day out for adults than a Wiggles concert (and about a quarter of the price).

Kryztoff Rating: 3K

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