It's crying shame that Monday Mania only has two shows left this festival season - after all, its opening night was nothing short of a triumph, the variety showcase of hand-picked local acts comprehensively enjoyable.
Mikey Robins, free from the confines of prime time television, proves an acquired taste as MC. The super-quick comic is forever frenzied and flustered in his delivery, furiously zig-zagging from gag to gag. The style procures a kind of nervous tension that sits uneasily at first. Ultimately, though Robins' natural wit prevails over any palpable anxiety, the Good News Week favourite holding his own as comedic ringmaster.
Headliner Greg Fleet, by contrast, appears at very much at ease on stage. Of course, that's a given: Fleet is very much a cornerstone of Australian stand-up comedy, a stalwart of the local circuit. Fleet exudes a natural, affable charisma that draws the crowd in immediately. Effortlessly endearing, he has the knack for appealing to the audience as a mate first and a comedian second, which is noted with the utmost praise for his stand-up prowess. Overall, Fleet's a fun, easy-going comic whose strength lies in his observational repartee and immense storytelling ability.
Between the bookends of Robins and Fleet are a series of spots from local acts. Referring to Mania's opening night, Nick Cody, Jacques Barrett and The Nelson Twins were the stand-outs. Each swiftly impressed the audience and encouraged investigation beyond their brief stints on stage - the best outcome that both comic and audience alike could hope for from such an evening.
Based on impressions formed this opening night, one reasonably expects Monday Mania to rank among the best variety evenings of local talent the festival has to offer. Given Monday is traditionally festival's sleepiest 24 hours with only a handful of shows on offer, there's really no excuse not to check this one out.