Nobody needs to point out that cracking into the comedy scene is a tough grind. Stand-up comedians generally start by refining their acts in dingy low-lit rooms, adding and cutting material until a they have a reliable stable of gags, but there’s a world of difference between filling a ten minute spot with eight other comics versus entertaining an audience for an hour.

One way to break into the festival scene without the burden of filling so much time is buddying up with a fellow newcomer. This is the path treaded by 20-year-old law student Amos Gill and 21-year-old architecture student Moataz Hamde, who divvy a 50 minute show into halves and make a pretty good fist of it.

Both acknowledge they have limited life experience and predictably cover things they know — like footy, chicks and their parents.

Gill rattles off anecdotes about his father catching him having sex, the carnal powers of a good curry and the frustrations of being a footy coach to a bunch of five year olds. He squeezes significant mileage from a bit about the AFL’s guide to behaving with women in social environments (read: how not to commit rape), and while his conversational flow is strong, the material could be snappier.

Hamde cuts a sprightlier stage presence but his momentum isn’t as fluid. There are jokes about cultural expectations associated with being an Egyptian, growing up in Alice Springs, and asides about his ex-girlfriend. Hamde also mentions interactions with his father and five year old kids, missing the obvious opportunity for a call back.

Hamde maked an amateur mistake by insulting a woman in the front row with a cheap gag (he asked her to smile then remarked that she must have a great personality, ho ho) without having the chops to bring her back onside. Taunting and teasing the audience, then currying favour with them and doing it all again, is no easy task. If you can’t mend the bridge — be rude but win them back — the gag ought to have been worth it, and the only measurable is the number of laughs. If you don’t get many, it isn’t worth it.

Hamde and Gill are obviously a little green around the edges, but at least two other things are equally obvious: 1) their ability to entertain and b) their considerable potential.

Background Check is on Tuesday to Saturday at 6:30pm from April 13 to April 21 at Three Degrees.

Luke Buckmaster also reviews films on Crikey film blog Cinetology.

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