McDermott – formerly of the Doug Anthony All Stars and television shows such as Good News Week and Strictly Dancing ­– is teaming up with cabaret singer Catherine Alcorn for a show at new Fringe venue The Queens that promises “an hour of unbridled music, comedy and commentary”, including new arrangements and interpretations of classic songs plus original material.

Then he will hit a different note with a comedy/music show at the Rhino Room called Paul McDermott ­– Plus One, with the “plus one” being musician Glenn Moorhouse.

Here, McDermott (whose COVID beard sees him bearing an uncanny resemblance to UK actor Michael Sheen in the lockdown series Staged) tells us what to expect ­– kind of – from his Fringe frolics.

Describe each of your 2021 Adelaide Fringe shows in 10 words or less…

Paul + Catherine Sing Together: It’s a singy, big song singy, singy singy song show.

Paul McDermott – Plus One: THEN, THE BEAST DID ENTER THE ROOM… and wail.

How did you and Catherine Alcorn come to perform together?

Cath created FNL (Friday Night Live) providing a safe space for performers to work during COVID.  The variety show featured an incredible assortment of dancers, singers, musicians and comedians all performing live in a small TV studio (in Sydney).  The performances were live-streamed.

My old mate and accomplice Ted Robinson (director/producer of The BIG GIG, The Side/Show, Good News Week) was involved in the streaming content side. He invited me to witness the last FNL show, and made introductions. Then, my world changed…

Your shows at the Queens will include songs you wrote in iso – tell us about these…

It’s no surprise, really, that when the world was engulfed in a global pandemic, which caused near universal misery, I would find a fecund avenue of creativity. Every day brought new horrors which I swiftly converted into pretty songs.

I wrote many, many tunes during this period, far too many to include in these shows.  I do hope we get space at some point to do the 15+ minute Irish sea shanty entitled “The Ballad of the Ruby Princess (part 1)”.

Other than running out of razors, what was the most challenging thing for you about the whole iso/lockdown period?

The razors are there but the desire to shave and to meet acceptable social standards regarding facial hair deserted me.

At the start of the pandemic I was unshaven and slim-ish with a year of high-octane comedy performances booked in.  A week and half later I was wearing socks with sandals and suspiciously stained sweat pants, had bloated out, and had co-opted the NutriBullet (originally purchased to pursue a rigorous health regime) to pulverise ice as I made industrial-strength frozen margarita slushies (as an aside: there is no better way to watch an insurrection).

So… the most challenging aspect for me was going out and braving the masses in my almost daily hunt for tequila.

Paul + Catherine Sing Together seems unashamedly cabaret, yet you’ve previously mocked cabaret as “the weakest of the arts”. Why the change of heart?

I continue to mock cabaret and all who support her.  But, I am a hypocrite and a dubious fellow prone to betray my ethics and morals at the drop of a hat. The Side/Show, which was a concept I took to the ABC, was steeped in cabaret, new circus, burlesque and contemporary vaudeville. I’m incredibly proud of that show and happily compromised my values and beliefs because – I FOLLOW THE MONEY, BABY.

For Plus One, you’re teaming up with musician Glenn Moorhouse – what kind of malarkey can we expect from that show?

This is a hatchling of a show. Glenn and I are growing it as I type. We have a strong skeletal system with the songs, and they are sounding pretty schmick, but we need to clothe those bones.

The Rhino Room will give us plenty of time to play, stretch boundaries and explore. I am looking forward to the creation of this beast, it is already up and swaggering towards Babylon.  It’s going to be a corker, and Adelaide will be the first to taste its fetid breath.

How are both these shows an antidote to the current crazy times?

The only antidote to anything is HYDROXYCLOROQUINE.  Listen to Craig Kelly and Pete Evans (speakers of TRUTH), ignore the advice of DOCTORS and forge your own instinctual path to HEALTH through light therapy treatment and the consumption of MAGIC BEANS in an acai berry breakfast bowl (Pete has the recipe). KALE is the spiritual healer for the BOWEL. Look into the light (especially during eclipses). Do a daily bleach cleanse. Centre yourself, “stand by and stand ready”, because the onslaught of the “ANTI” and the revolution of the IDIOTS is only just beginning…

Paul + Catherine Sing Together will be at The Queens (in the historic Queens Theatre) from February 25-28, with McDermott and Alcorn also among artists who will host the venue’s late-night cabaret club, Club Queens. Paul McDermott – Plus One will be at the Rhino Room from March 2-13. The shows are part of the 2021 Adelaide Fringe, which opens on February 19.

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