Chasing a laugh

Chasing a laugh
Image: Gabbi Bolt, James Schloeffel, Charles Firth, and Mark Humphries get ready to go to war. Image: supplied

The Chaser team don’t believe in pulling a punch – or a punchline. They are currently touring their live show, War on 2022, and in it they bravely tackle the hard topics from the past year including: the war in Ukraine, climate catastrophe, the morphing of America into Gilead, and perhaps scariest of all, Peter Dutton.

“There’s a sort of darkness to a lot of satire. Traditionally, satire has been a way to have a very dark sense of humour about awful things,” says Charles Firth from The Chaser. “The thing is, you’ve got to treat the audience like they’re intelligent players.”

A Chaser audience generally is intelligent and well-informed, and that allows this comedy team which also consists of James Schloeffel (The Shovel), Mark Humphries (ABC-TV’s 7:30), and special guest, Tik Tok sensation Gabbi Bolt, to broach touchy subjects with nuance. 

“Our license to comment is based on how funny it is, and you know, how insightful we can be,” explains Firth. He says no subject is taboo as long as it gets a laugh and doesn’t hurt anyone. On the other hand, they don’t feel obliged to talk about hot issues just for the sake of it. “If you don’t have anything interesting or funny to add then you don’t have to comment.”

The thing about comedy is that audience response is immediate and unmitigated, so it’s easy to know whether a joke is landing or not. The team constantly hones and tweaks material throughout a tour which means that later shows tend to be more polished while earlier shows have a rough, improvisational charm. 

Audiences differ across venues and localities as well. 

“The great thing about venues like Enmore is you get this wall of laughter. There is no better experience in life than being in front of the crowd at the Enmore and having 1600 people laugh at you… like it really is, it’s the best,” says Firth.

“But if you’re playing in front of 400 people in Gosford, there’s an intimacy there, there’s a warmth, where you start finding yourself being more relaxed and sort of breaking out of the show…” he adds.

Firth, Schloeffel, and Humphries are thrilled – and a little threatened – about having Gabbi Bolt join them on this tour. Bolt has built a huge following on social media with her hilarious parody songs. She has also been recognised by the industry, winning Best Newcomer at the Sydney Comedy Festival 2022, Best of the Week at the Adelaide Fringe 2022, and the prestigious Moosehead Award at last year’s Melbourne Comedy Festival. 

Bolt is an accomplished musician and performer and was dragged away from a teaching job by Firth to be a Chaser intern. He told her: “You have to just work 100% of your time on creative arts…the world needs you to be devoting yourself to that.”

She’s likely to steal the show, but the others don’t mind deferring to her talent. 

“It is gonna be a different show this year because the music really does lift it,” says Firth. “Like it’s going to end up being 20 minutes worth of these just fucking hilarious songs.”

December 9, 7:30pm

Enmore Theatre, 118 – 132 Enmore Rd, Enmore


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