ANU Arts Revue: Sending Brian Back to Kansas

Art by Al Laurence

Arts Revue opens with a joke. Not a skit, a single joke. The keyboard player gets up, walks to centre stage, and announces that he’s going to tell a joke that’s ‘okay to say’, because he heard it on the radio. 

“How does a pornstar get paid?

Income.”

(Get it, because it sounds like in-cum?)

It wasn’t a bad joke – it was fine, it got a laugh – but we were left confused. Who was this guy, who didn’t appear in a single skit after his one joke? Why was this the opener? Were they stalling while they sorted out technical issues? Did he just really want to be a part of it, while also playing his keyboard?

Arts Revue left all of these questions unanswered, but it gave us a great show to make up for it. The just-fine pornstar joke is thankfully followed by an excellent ‘Life is a Highway’ parody, ‘Life is a Parkes Way’, full of jokes about the perils of driving in Canberra. This was the first of many solid parodies. A special shoutout to ‘Love is an Open Door/There’s Vomit on the Floor’, an ode to a scenario many a Senior Resident has faced on a Thursday night, and a long but funny and oddly heartwarming skit where the Phantom of the Opera joins the Backstreet Boys. Though these were all good, the highlight had to be the number about society keeping Miss Piggy and Kermit apart. The costuming – a frog suit, a dress and a cheap wig – was exactly what you’d expect, and Georgia Mcculloch’s performance as Kermit was especially moving. From Kermit to Brian Schmidt’s American accent to the practised cadence of a newsreader, Mcculloch’s unique talent for impressions – ie. ‘doing funny voices’ – meant she never once broke character. 

If a powerful, poignant anthem about the enduring power of frog-pig sex doesn’t sound like your kind of thing, then Arts Revue provided plenty of ANU-related comedy for the average revue enjoyer. A breakup between ANU and Schmidt, where his Nobel Prize is the other woman, captured the heartbreak of Schmidt’s departure. Even the Devil himself, accompanied by a grovelling minion he had an insane amount of sexual tension with, visited to announce his plans for a new and improved ANU. These ranged from not-that-bad-maybe-an-improvement-actually (sinking Wamburun into the depths of Hell) to downright evil (quadruple-factor authentication for every sign-on).

Not all of the skits were this good. A few were just drawn-out puns. A woman goes to the doctor about a lump on her arm; it’s Taylor Cyst, a cyst that plays Taylor Swift songs. Bird watchers make jokes about seeing nice pairs of tits. The latter does get points for walking right up to my co-writer and implying they had thrush, though. Excellent audience participation, almost as good as the bit where they turned off all the lights and ran a guided meditation, lulling us all into a false sense of security so that they could steal our belongings. Thankfully everything was returned after the show – no need to press charges.

Charlie Joyce Thompson deserves a special mention for bringing an extra laugh to every skit he starred in. His delivery, accents, acting and improv were fantastic and he had us keeling over, whether he was playing Miss Piggy or a South African High Court judge.  

We saw Arts Revue on the opening night, so we were ready to forgive any tech issues. Which is good, because there were a fair few of them: lights going up randomly during scenes that were supposed to be dark (at least we think so), Taylor Swift playing during the devil’s speech and the wrong Powerpoint playing during a student presentation skit – somehow, this last one was still kind of funny. 

Nonetheless, Arts Revue proved a funny, well-coordinated, well-acted performance. Its strengths were its actors and its parodies and musical numbers, each one somehow better than the last. It ended with a bang: a parody of ‘I’m Just Ken’ to the tune of “I’m Just Brian” and mashed up with even more Backstreet Boys. A fantastic way to the end night, and a charming and funny end to the revue season. 

We acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which Woroni, Woroni Radio and Woroni TV are created, edited, published, printed and distributed. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and emerging. We acknowledge that the name Woroni was taken from the Wadi Wadi Nation without permission, and we are striving to do better for future reconciliation.