Friday, June 09, 2006

Judith Lucy: I Failed!

Judith Lucy is one of those comedians who falls perfectly into the “love her or hate her” category. The reasons people hate her (her distinctive voice and acerbic style), are also the reasons her fans love her. Even so, anyone interested in the Australian radio scene will get something out of her new show, I Failed!

Having had some experience in commercial FM radio (although not as an announcer), I was keen to hear her take on the Austereo network. Hired in 2004 to replace Wendy Harmer in breakfast on Sydney’s 2-Day FM, Lucy was eventually unceremoniously sacked last June, after being shifted to Melbourne to do the national drive shift. And she doesn't disappoint - I Failed! is part therapy, part stinging retribution.

Lucy talks as candidly as she legally can about the revolving door of arrogant program directors; bizarre stunts and promotions (two words – “celebrity sperm”); a lack of publicity and support; having to interview precious celebrities - or worse, Big Brother evictees; the ratings dive; and last ditch attempts to shore up listeners.

This is the main thread of the show, but Lucy diverges from the path frequently to talk about other things that have been happening in her life: medical problems (including a gall bladder operation and panic attacks); her engagement; having a colonic irrigation; barbs and jabs at the usual celebrities (Gwen Stefani and Keira Knightley – watch out!) and a sharp and brilliant piece about the hypocrisy and mindlessness of women’s magazines.

Lucy began the show by pointing out she had a head cold, which may have explained an extra-strong nasally opening delivery. But she obviously relaxed as the show went on, and the audience relaxed with her. A note for potential audience members though – if you have questions you’ve always wanted to ask Lucy, make sure you commit them to memory before you go. She holds a Q&A session about halfway through, which didn’t really fire during opening night because nobody could think of anything to ask! The finale is slightly removed from the theme of her show, but entertaining nonetheless.

At the end of the day, Lucy is just too much of an original to fit the rigid formats of commercial radio. They may have dumped her – but Judith Lucy makes a welcome return to stand-up comedy with I Failed! And the ultimate prize for Lucy? She never has to listen to another Nickelback song again.

Performance seen: Thursday 8 June
I Failed!
Brisbane Powerhouse
Tues-Sun until 25 June
Tickets $34.90/$29.90

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