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Nerdgasm | Melbourne Fringe Festival 2012

Nerdgasm is a show defined by conceit. So bloated by the conviction of its own merit that it threatens to disappear up its own backside, this ‘comedy show’ offers very little in the way of character development, storyline, pacing or even comedy.

There are various reasons why Nerdgasm is dull. But it may be largely due to the fact that its creators, Avi Bernshaw and Luke Bleeser, didn’t write it with an audience in mind. They wrote it for all the people they knew by name in the crowd. Hence, the only way for a genuine audience member to get half-decent entertainment out of this show is to play their own game—Endurance.

Level 1 involves getting past the slightly promising, but ultimately flatlining premise of the show, in which two characters from well-known video games sit in a bar somewhere and shoot crap for an hour. (Store up your Patience bar before you begin, because nothing about this element of the show changes from this point onwards.) In Level 2, you need to soldier through the occasional, vaguely homophobic sex joke that’s tired long before Bernshaw and Bleeser finish milking it. Lastly, in Level 3, you face the challenge of navigating an aimless show structure that ping-pongs through various gamer references like Sonic on steroids. Nerdgasm is a Fringe-show incarnation of watching someone pat themselves on the back for an hour. It’s a giant pissing contest to see who can make the most obscure gaming references, regardless of whether any genuine audience member can keep up or even remain interested in what the performer has to say.

One particularly depressing element of this show is that the vaguely inventive show name promises something interesting, as exemplified by shows from last year’s Fringe. For one, Nerdgasm could have been something like Rob Lloyd’s Who, Me?; a Doctor-Who-centric, tightly structured performance piece centred around the cosmos of a particular ‘nerd’ universe. This kind of approach allows someone unfamiliar with the genre in question to still enjoy a show that’s considered, well-paced and actually entertaining. Alas, this is something at which Nerdgasm fails, definitively.

But the real disappointment of this show is how Bernshaw and Bleeser conflate arrogance with confidence. Either ignorant or unperturbed by the fact there was a reviewer in the crowd, they boasted about how they (allegedly) successfully exploited the last reviewer who dared give them a meagre rating. If they reckon they can use Helen Razer’s damning assessment of their last show to their supposed benefit, then they can go to town on the material here. Game on.

Nerdgasm will be playing at the Melbourne Fringe until 20th September at Gertrude’s Brown Couch.

Siobhan has her own blog called ReviewMania. or follow her on twitter: @siobhanargent.

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