Sketch comedy is not unfamiliar territory for most students who frequent revues every semester of every year. Nevertheless, Sydney Fringe offers us a special few weeks to acquaint ourselves with rising talents and laugh at the deliriously funny jokes that people have to offer. As someone rarely considered ‘funny’, I’m always in awe at the humorous provocations that are presented time and time again.
Filing into the intimate Factory Theatre, audiences are presented with a minimalist set and a small pot plant in the back row labelled “I am not a plant”. The humour has already begun. Starring Ruby Blinkhorn and Kate Bubalo, Deep Heat presents A Bit Much, opening with an unbelievable rendition of Streisand’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade” performed by Ruby.
Ruby’s strong vocal talent is showcased consistently throughout the show, often in the most comedic moments and frequently used to poke fun at the absence of Kate’s own singing. Though, in no way does this ever seem to detract from the show. Showcased in their individual performances, Deep Heat share a fantastic energy and an exaggerated understanding of each of their individual roles within the sketches: Ruby’s theatrical and self-indulgent persona in contrast to Kate’s self-aware, sly character. Here, it is also important to truly appreciate the fact that both talents are covered head to toe in their assigned red and blue attire — bonus points for the tinted brows.
Tasked with the challenge of creating the best fringe show by the ‘gatekeepers of women in comedy’ — Chemy Bardner, Bannah Batsby and Adam Hills — the show aims to touch base with a wide variety of humour and jokes. Notable sketches include one surrounding a problematic male comedian, witch trials, British cooking, the Scottish homeland, bleeding from everywhere, and one of my personal favourites involving a rat with humanlike tendencies. The show also explores aspects of women in comedy, balancing subversive humour with plain and accessible hilarity.
Broken up into various segments, Deep Heat take regular ‘commercial’ breaks frequented by them drinking water, orange juice, and — uh, bodily fluids. Allowing the audience to catch their breath, the show also introduces effective and well-crafted voiceover sketches that eventually manifest on-stage, inviting viewers to cackle at the reality of their imagined sketch.
At some points within the show, the humour doesn’t quite hit the right spots, but when it does, it is clear that Ruby and Kate are laughing at themselves too. In some sketches, viewers without the right background knowledge might take a while to catch on to what’s going on (cue me asking what bubble and squeak is).
So I suppose the question is whether Deep Heat has fulfilled their mission to create the best fringe comedy show ever. The answer is probably not, but hey — it’s enough to leave with a smile and chuckle after seeing Kate (read: Ruby’s recording) perform a gravity-defying closing musical number without singing a single note. The strengths of the show lie in its honesty and the chemistry between the talents. A Bit Much indulges audiences in an unpredictable fringe show of amplified personality, aided by the passion and performance of Deep Heat.
A Bit Much is showing at the Factory Theatre as part of Sydney Fringe Comedy until 21 September. Find tickets here.