Dixie’s Tupperware Party has come all the way from Alabama to Spiegeltent for this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, complete with a range of Tupperware on stage, real Tupperware catalogues, and of course Dixie Longate herself all done up in gingham with red ringlets and a proper Southern drawl.

Tupperware, you say? That remnant of 1950s sexism that keeps women in the kitchen? Well, yes, but don’t let that put you off – Dixie’s Tupperware Party is, in short, hilarious, and there’s more to the Tupperware story than a Gen Y kid like me had realised.

Dixie starts by topping up her eight-ounce-sealable-lid-ribbed-for-your convenience cup with bourbon and telling the audience that you’re wearing name tags so that when you wake up behind a dumpster in the morning you know who it is that’s passed out next to you.

This outlandish, hilarious character keeps up the pace the whole way through. She demonstrates several of the Tupperware products on stage with each providing ample opportunity for humour. She picks on a poor fellow in the audience to illustrate the fact that men think Tupperware is “bowls, just bowls, but it’s more than just bowwwls” – which, in her Alabaaama accent, sounds so much funnier than it’s ever going to look in print.

This show is full of dirty jokes and innuendo – try saying Dickens Cider fast and you’ll get the picture. Dixie picks on audience members throughout and it works a treat, the raffle winner getting the worst of it – all in good fun but definitely not in good taste. This is a show in which to keep your head down if you’re shy, but don’t let it put you off going altogether.

Through all the humour and dirty jokes I did actually learn something about Tupperware, which took off in the 1950s when a woman named Brownie Wise came up with the brilliant sales idea of Tupperware Parties. She told her doubters (men) to get stuffed, and before long was made vice president of Tupperware Home Parties.

The effect was not just one of making Tupperware a huge success, but also providing an opportunity for women, usually tied to the home, to earn an income. It seems Tupperware was, for the era, a symbol of liberation, albeit one that seems positively archaic from today’s perspective. It’s a pity that Brownie Wise’s story ended in sadness, with Tupperware’s creator Earl Tupper forcing her out of the company.

Dixie’s show would definitely reveal some mixed messages about the role of women if you took it too seriously, but ultimately she throws expectations out the window. She is, after all, described as America’s Southern answer to Dame Edna, if you get my drift, and this is no well-behaved suburban party. Take this opportunity to join the fun while you can.

Dixie’s Tupperware Party is playing Tuesday to Saturday at 8.30pm and Sunday at 7.30pm in the Spiegeltent until April 22.

Suzannah Marshall Macbeth blogs over at Equineocean.

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