Stand-up comedy can be hilarious. It can be excruciating. It can be insightful. It can be sad.
Taking us on that emotional rollercoaster in the new Aussie comedy drama The Heckler is Steve, a hungry-for-fame stand-up dude whose body is hijacked by the spirit of tough-nut wannabe-comedian Mike. Steve must find a way to undo this body swap before his career is ruined now that an idiot is in charge.
As a swag of comedians were working the crowd for final laughs at the end of the Adelaide Fringe season on Friday night, The Heckler was down the road at the Palace Nova, revealing that the life of a stand-up is not always a laughing matter. But it does provide good comedic material.
Following The Heckler’s success at the LA Comedy festival, where it won the Best Ensemble award, the guys behind the movie have chosen the comedy festival circuit to showcase their movie, with Adelaide the spot for its Australian premiere.
Writer Steve Mitchell says the final product is the result of much workshopping and fine-tuning, with writer Graham Simsion, of The Rosie Project fame, involved in the final tightening-up. The result is well-rounded characters, subplots and clever running gags.
Steve (Simon Mallory) is not an innocent victim and Mike (Chris Fortuna) isn’t a total bastard. SA comedy talent Emily Taheny, originally from the Yorke Peninsula and regularly seen on the small screen in Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell, makes her feature-film debut as Steve’s estranged yet still supportive wife, while fellow local talent Scott Harrison (The Hollowmen), is Steve’s not-so-supportive agent.
Friday night’s event, with live stand-up intro by the cast and celebrity guests attending the after-party, was a one-off for Adelaide before the movie goes to Melbourne, where it was shot, for a couple of screenings in April.
Filmed on a very low budget with very high standards, The Heckler delivers and deserves a return visit.
You can view a trailer for The Heckler here.