Silly, funny, creative and clever, the Umbilical Brothers bring their unique blend of humour to the Melbourne Comedy Festival and the city is all the better off for it. This show, titled The Distraction, won the Best Comedy Award at the recent Adelaide Fringe Festival. David Collins and Shane Dundas, who are the Umbilical Brothers, have been plying their trade for 30 years and they are damn good at it.
The recurring themes in The Distraction are babies, space and explosions. Random sketches are meshed together with the use of live action, a green screen and video technology, creating a rip tickling hour of entertainment. Audience involvement is consistent.
The warmup involves words on a video screen, which spark an immediate reaction. For instance, “I hope the show starts soon. Or if this is the show, I hope it stops soon.” David fronts first in a love fest with himself in front of a mirror. Shane has a different take on the theme. Puppets appear and disappear from time to time.
Baby Sports pop up frequently, in which infants are subject to a series of sporting pursuits, whether that be on the ice, via hoops or on the punt … and more besides. Another constant is a variation of a single line, namely “the man whose head explodes when he realises things” … and the screen reveals exactly that.
To highlight the random nature of proceedings, a typical Monet artwork backdrop appears followed by a smart one liner. Then David and Shane play a couple of men on the tools – perhaps fools would be more apt?
During the night, they adopt a variety of accents. David tries to get his fictitious infant to say the word “daddy”, but further than that, doing so in the correct tone of voice. He and Shane hold an unusual news conference, taking faux questions from the audience on whose faces their mouths are splayed.
Electric shocks are part of the repertoire, while we don’t leave the auditorium before receiving a “tonguing”. And before The Distraction is over even Apple founder Steve Jobs puts in an appearance.
Much laughter punctuates the boys’ performance throughout. I dare say there were many die-hard fans in attendance the night I was there. David and Shane use technology to brilliant comic effect. They are pacey and polished, well used to delivering the quick quips that invariably land.
Clearly, they adhere to the adage that laughter is the best medicine. Given what the world has been going through, diversion surely “ain’t a bad thing”. The Distraction is on at the Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, until 17th April. To find out more, go to comedyfestival.com.au
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- The Gospel According to Paul (Arts Centre Melbourne) – theatre review
- Lennox: Legend in my Living Room (Chapel off Chapel)
- Drummer Queens (Comedy Theatre) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.