A perennial favourite of mine, Michael Shafar is one very funny man who has no hesitation in pushing the boundaries and fortunately he is back at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with a batch of new material. He starts his 50-minute set by telling us that before the pandemic he entertained on cruise ships. Then he proceeds to relay a series of zingers concerning hangovers, overlaid with a rather unfortunate incident involving a minor.
31-year-old Shafar says he finally got engaged to his girlfriend of 13 years, Amanda. That leads him down the path of the quality of the ring and destination weddings. Suddenly, we are in the realm of an ageing sex therapist. Shafar comes up with a way of saving money on buying a house in his neighbourhood. The much (and unfairly) maligned AstraZeneca vaccine gets the Shafar treatment. In fact, COVID gags are prominent.
As a cancer survivor, Shafar turns the tables on his oncologist due to an email the latter sent the comic after attending one of his shows. Speaking of his challenges, although not spending much time on the subject, Shafar bemoans the advice people gave him when he was going through chemotherapy.
Among the many highlights of the show is when Shafar capitalises upon the reaction he received online after commenting on the extraordinary lengths anti-vaxxers had taken to avoid getting the jab. He uses visuals to highlight what went down. He goes on to explain why the Pope has the hardest job in the world and then proffers a way for indigenous Australians to get their own back on January 26th. As a proudly Jewish man, Shafar reflects on sports’ day at the Jewish school he attended.
He discusses the movies 1917 and Don’t Look Up, before firing a shot over the bows at “participation” awards and tradies’ protesting at the Shrine of Remembrance. He goes on to defend the sanctity of Bunnings. Pro-lifers get a serve, as do “Conception Day” parties, while he reveals a hidden use for Grindr. With the upcoming federal election but weeks away, Shafar gives Albo a foolproof slogan to counter Scomo.
So, as you will have gathered by now, the very personable, quick-witted Shafar casts his net far and wide. The jokes are prolific. He gets through a lot of material and is eloquent and erudite. He sets out to shock and delight … and he achieves both. Some of his material is decidedly risqué. The audience appears to lap it all up. There’s a constant and steady stream of laughter.
Shafar also has an uncanny ability to respond to any overtures from those at his gigs. In fact, he was on stage and engaging with those who arrived early before I got there. He has a “every person” touch about him that others warm to. The Return of Shafar reinforces why I always look forward to seeing what is next on his hit list and why I regard him as a must see whenever he trots out fresh comedy. Michael Shafar is undoubtedly one of the best comedians going around. He is on at Campari House until 24th April, 2022.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Kosher Bacon (MICF) – theatre review
- Dumtectives (Melbourne International Comedy Festival) – theatre review
- Lano & Woodley: Moby Dick (Comedy Theatre) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.