On the Set List

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 25-Jan-2013

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By JAYDEN EDWARDS

Set List- Stand-Up Without a Net, a show that has comedians scared witless the world over, is coming to our TV screens.

The show invites willing comedians to jump up on stage and tackle a never- before-seen list of topics and spin out a fully improvised routine in front of a live audience.

The concept is the brainchild of US comedians and film makers Troy Conrad and Paul Provenza.

After experimenting with the show in comedy rooms in and around Los Angeles, Set List has set up shop around the world in front of sell out crowds, including London, Edinburgh and at our own Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

The show has attracted some of comedy’s biggest names and delighted audiences, giving them the clearest possible view of a comedian’s innermost workings.

All this hype eventually attracted the attention of UK Television network Sky Atlantic, who commissioned the 14 part series, showing here on ABC2.

The TV series was filmed in the US and the UK last year and sees the likes of Robin Williams, Ross Noble, Drew Carey, Tim Minchin, Rove McManus and more, take on the Set List challenge.

Episode one shows at 9pm on Thursday, January 24 on ABC2, and sees Robin Williams, Matt Kirshen and Eddie Pepitone step up to the mic.

All very different comedians, it’s great to see how they approach the task in their own style.

Robin, as you’d expect, pulls out some wacky voices and whimsical tales to get him through, while Eddie employs a lot of swearing and yelling to keep the laughs coming while he’s thinking.

Yeah, some of the jokes miss, but the fun in Set List is seeing the comedians find the hits, it’s like a spectator sport, everyone loves a car crash as much as a triumph.

The TV format adds another layer to the successful live show by mixing the comedian’s performances with behind- the-scenes footage and pre- and post-show interviews, so you really get to see the acts sweat and panic before jumping up on stage, and their reaction straight after their set.

The camera gets right in the comedians’ faces during their set, showing their gears turning and brows sweating.

These are all great techniques that puts the viewer on the other side of the fence, it feels like it’s you and the comedian vs the audience, a whole different experience to being an audience member at the live show.

Set List’s transition to television was always at risk of losing its edge and underground live room feel, but the doco-style filming, basic set and lack of host ensure none of that is lost, no glitz, just raw stand up improv.

The show is produced for the UK, so there are a few names that may not be so familiar with Aussie audiences, but plenty that will. Hopefully they’ll film some in Melbourne in the future.

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