An intimate group gathered in Marrickville’s Factory Theatre on Friday, 20th September, to view Claudia Rae and Floyd Alexander-Hunt’s offerings in the Sydney Fringe Festival. The split bill hosted two rising comedy talents, both of who were 2019 finalists at the NSW RAW Comedy competition.
‘Sometimes I just do jokes that I like,’ said Bachelor of Maths graduate Rae. To some extent, this epitomised the first act on the bill.
Rae’s content was primarily disjointed, covering a range of topics from the Belmont high school fire, to her firing from an adolescent crown career in the punchy half-hour slot. Much of the subject matter relied on local humour (‘the best thing to do in Adelaide is leave’ was a red hot zinger) and at times was too niche or absurd to land safely on a varied crowd.
Yet Rae’s awkward, mostly self-aware comedy style was instantly endearing, just like the slanted ‘yeah cool’ she delivered in a broad Aussie accent after almost every joke. For every apparent punchline, there were three that followed and only improved on the first. She made even ‘Activities of Daily Living’ hilarious with deadpan delivery only intercepted by occasional laughing fits at her own jokes, and her tongue firmly planted in her cheek.
Following this lively start, USyd student Alexander-Hunt quickly won the crowd with her cringe-style self-parodying. Painting herself as a crazed, lovelorn ex-girlfriend, she skillfully wove the recurring theme of her heartbreak throughout the set.
This was aided by a firm highlight of Alexander-Hunt’s performance – the thoughtful inclusion of musical numbers on ukulele and violin, often a source of continuity by contributing anecdotes to her romance storylines. At times the sheer volume of musical comedy in the set felt like overkill, with the audience feeling less comfortable amidst the more unfamiliar comedic style. Yet the crowd soon warmed to Alexander-Hunt’s evident talent for humorous storytelling across a range of mediums, as hearty applause consistently followed fun little numbers like ‘a Christmas divorce’.
Audience participation was a further highlight of both sets, made more effective and forthcoming by the intimate setting of the Factory Floor. Both capitalised on the small crowd to make night-winning moments happen, like Alexander-Hunt requesting an audience member send a text message to her ex. (Disclaimer: the writer is unsure if the text was actually delivered. Potentially left on read.)
Whilst both acts came evidently prepared with a host of props and one-liners on hand, this sometimes became a detriment; with over-rehearsed jokes falling flat on an expectant audience. These moments were few however. Rae and Alexander-Hunt are overwhelmingly likeable, skilled storytellers; and provide a promising glimpse at the future of Sydney’s fringe comedy.
Claudia Rae & Floyd Alexander-Hunt returns on Sunday 22nd September at 6pm at Factory Theatre, Marrickville. Tickets are $12-17 and can be purchased at the Factory Theatre website or at the door.