Set List: Standup Without a Net

Ultimate improv

★★★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 25 August 2011

The brainchild of Aristocrats director Paul Provenza and filmmaker Troy Conrad, Set List promises “comedy created in the moment – nothing rehearsed”. It’s extreme improv with nowhere for the terrified performers to hide.

The simple concept is that Provenza writes a short list of phrases which are combined with audience selections drawn from a hat. This set list is then given to a performer to weave into comedy gold after just 15 seconds of thinking time.

Tonight's opener, Emmy Award-winning comedian Rich Overton, is given “female teacher sex” to start off with, followed by “educated narcissist” and “haggis versus burgers”, amongst other unlikely material.

He does a pretty good job but, as Provenza says, “you don’t go to the circus to see the tightrope walker make it”.

This particular evening, both Fred MacAuley and Tom Stade are the ones destined to take a dramatic tumble, MacAuley looking baffled and Stade drunk. It’s all part of the fun though, with the late-night timeslot adding to the feeling of pleasant chaos.

Conversely, Phill Jupitus effortlessly glides through a set, compete with multiple callbacks, with little trouble. The undoubted stars of this impressive lineup, though, are improv masters Andy Smart and Steve Stein who invent a Kazakhstani character who would give Borat a run for his money in the laughter stakes.

If comedy is the new rock and roll, Set List is a punk gig where the band might not even turn up. It’s well worth an hour of anyone’s time.