Nina D. Flanagan writes…

Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall’s show Trying Hard is exactly what it says on the apologetic label: one guy up on stage, obviously giving it his best shot but falling a little short. Clearly an amateur show, but with good potential, it lacked some polish.

The venue was definitely what you’d call intimate. We were shown into a cupboard that had somehow escaped the elaborate period decor of the rest of the Forum Theatre, called the carpet room, and seated five-a-pew on benches designed for four at best. When the cupboard was at capacity and the comedian had expressed his surprise at how many people came, we were presented with standalone ‘bits’ bookended by two elaborate but unnecessary costume sketches.

Content alternated between intelligent and gross-out humour: encapsulating everything from the history of the universe, to a detailed discussion of Tremblay-Birchall’s urethra. The bits ranged in length, and some of the shorter pieces could have done with elaboration while some longer ones should have been cut altogether.

It was hit and miss: the observational and wordplay gags were a highlight, if underdeveloped. Commentary on Bryan, the dying man used in the graphic cigarette packaging campaign was a real low point. The risk of venturing into controversial territory in search of laughs did not pay off this time.

The varied and haphazard format of Trying Hard suggests that Tremblay-Birchall is still refining his personal comedic style. With more rigorous content selection, more practice and less reliance on ‘endearing amateur’ schtick, Tremblay-Birchall will improve, but for now, he needs to keep trying.

Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall in Trying Hard is on at the Melbourne Forum, 9:45pm Tues – Sat, 8:45pm Sun until 21st April.

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