Review: Very Mature (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)April 7, 2021
Photography by Nick Robertson
How does a comedian know they’ve ‘made it’? According to Ethan Cavanagh and Sweeney Preston, the (enthusiastic!!!) minds behind ‘Very Mature’, it’s when you get to play at the top of the stairs at Mantra on Russell.
The intimate venue, full on opening night and judging by the dress of the audience, very popular with Unimelb Arts students (myself included), Sweeney and Ethan jumped onto the stage with the excitement of two comedians who have been waiting a year to perform. Which they have. After a COVID-enforced hiatus spent working on food trucks and writing jokes about hedgehogs, the boys are back and ready to share some of the strange life lessons they’ve acquired in their 20-something years.
Self-described as “the perfect how-to guide. Or rather, the ultimate how-not-to guide” of being in your 20s, Ethan and Sweeney happily invite the crowd to bear witness to their stumbles through adulthood. Considering the audience on Thursday night was mostly their own peer group, this created an immediate rapport and the feeling of a safe, comfortable space. Both are extremely natural performers with undeniable chemistry. Though obviously well-rehearsed, I got the sense that if they did decide to go randomly off-book, they would have both the confidence and comedic charm to pull it off.
The two comics did most of the performance separately. Although both very talented solo, never making you wait for the return of the other, or losing audience engagement, I couldn’t help wondering if some of their material might have been stronger performed together. They bounce off each other so well that I was a little disappointed when I realised this would only be a small part of the show.
That being said, their material was overall light-hearted, funny and engaging. Though a few jokes fell a little flat, everything was done with great stage presence and a palpable, heart-warming desire to make people laugh. One of the highlights of the night was Sweeney accidentally hitting himself with the microphone, which sounds like an indictment of quality but really isn’t. For a moment I wondered if it had been done on purpose, out of commitment to the show, but the “red golf ball” on his forehead for the rest of the night said otherwise. Sweeney handled it like a champ and when Ethan noticed it later, they made the audience roar.
Based off the show’s description, I was expecting more material focusing on adulthood rather than general growing up stuff, but it was never boring, and the lessons were abundant. Like, don’t expect a Melburnian hairstylist who spells his name Jeerge (when it’s pronounced George) to give you a cheap cut. Or don’t let your Steiner teacher see that you have toys that aren’t made of wool.
The duo clearly has bright futures ahead of them, in both the comedy scene and in the improvised material of their own lives – I’m sure whatever they do with them will be very exciting, and very, very mature.
Don’t miss Sweeney and Ethan’s follow up show on April 10, Tickets are available now!
(Psst! Sweeney also co-hosts Serious News Hour on Radio Fodder Thursdays at 6pm! Check it out if you like your current affairs served less seriously)