What is it with the Hi-Fi Bar and stone-cold crowds this festival season? The final show of Headliners - touted as a "star-spangled showcase of America’s hottest comedy" - was in dire straits inside of five minutes, MC Andy Kindler doing it tough.
The comic struggled before an obviously apathetic bunch of Melbournians, even facing stiff opposition to his routine. Kinder's dry and self-dissecting comedy was disappointing, but nowhere near as disappointing as the heckles from the back. He weathered the storm well enough before mercifully ending the show's nightmare introduction, making way for the first act of the showcase.
DeAnne Smith was a surprise inclusion and in sublime form. She exuded a casual, friendly warmth, her sharp wit occasionally stunning the previously placid crowd. No one would soon forget an account of her hilariously explicit waxing experience, nor her deliciously morbid ditty performed on ukulele. Smith was definitely on song this particular evening, winning the crowd over and restoring faith in the show as a whole. Keith Robinson would emerge the audience favourite, however, his aggressive charisma electrifying the Hi-Fi Bar. Touching upon everything from situational racism to the finer points of aging, Robinson was a hit, his natural enthusiasm infectious.
The two main comics featured in this Headliners finale were certainly impressive. It was only unfortunate that it would be Robinson's last stand at the festival, any newfound fans unable to catch his solo show. To discover DeAnne Smith would be playing at Trades Hall until the end of the season was a delightful conclusion to the evening, however.
Overall, the very last Headliners of the festival was almost sunk by both its MC and an overly critical audience. Thankfully, though, the show was ultimately buoyed by its talent, Smith and Robinson saving the day.