TL;DR – This is a fascinating yet polarising show, that I don’t think will find a middle ground for most people and instead will hit one of the extremes.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
There are some concepts that you hear and immediately know that it was a good idea, and sticking a bunch of comedians in a room and make them force everyone to laugh while keeping yourself mute. This is one giant game of chicken with $100,000 on the line. Though I should say before diving in, I think you will know immediately if this show is for you with one phrase “dildo jacket”.
The format of the show is straightforward, you can’t laugh, you can’t even really smile, because if you do your out. This is complicated a little bit by everyone getting one yellow card warning and also getting a Joker Card that can be used only once to force everyone in the room to focus on you. That’s it, but then that is all you need if you have cast the show well, which is what they have done here.
We have comedians from across the comedic spectrum, some with wit as dry as a rock and as sharp as obsidian, some with every prop under the sun, some with physical comedy who throw their whole bodies into it, and some who sit there all quiet waiting to strike with a random outburst like a joke assassin. It is such a weird experience not seeing anyone laughing with the sheer chaos that is going on but then that makes it far more interesting for the audience.
What helps the show land is the way they have constructed the show to make good use of timing and space. Most of the action takes place in one relatively large room that looks like a private party room that has been repurposed. It allows you to move around and to have different groups, so you are not in everyone’s face all the time, but then it is small enough that you can’t escape from the chaos. Off to one side is a costume/prop room that is hidden behind a red curtain that gives every moment someone walks out that bit more weight because you have no idea what the laughs will come out as.
As well as the structure of the room, the structure of the show also helps make everything land harder. At the start, we only have 6 hours (or maybe less if someone can pull it off) this incentivizes everyone to go for broke from the beginning because there is not a lot of time to make it work. To add to this, everyone is both always on the attack and defence (even from their own jokes) giving every moment an actual weight because at any moment the alarm will go off. When a smile is seen, Rebel Wilson (the host) smashes a red button in the control room setting off alarms and lights in the room. This not only adds to the tension because “who laughed” because the game is on pause it gives everyone in the room a moment to get the nervousness out before getting back to business. Where this show will work for you or not comes down to the comedy, and if you are someone that wouldn’t find themselves in a stand-up night where you have no idea of the content, then this might not be the show for you. There were moments that I found hilarious and others that made me go hmmm oomph, yikes. You should know going in that this is a Hard MA15+ show with random things including a severed pig’s head happening in just the first two episodes.
In the end, do we recommend Last One Laughing Australia? Well, that is hard to say. This is a show about comedy and a very particular type of comedy, and if that is your jam, you will have a great time. However, that is not your jam; you will probably find this show boring at best and offensive at worst.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Last One Laughing Australia
Directed by – Gary Deans
Written by – Michael Ward
Based on – Documental by Hitoshi Matsumoto
Production/Distribution Companies – Amazon Studios
Starring – Rebel Wilson, Sam Simmons, Ed Kavalee, Anne Edmonds, Joel Creasey, Nazeem Hussain, Susie Youssef, Nick Cody, Dilruk Jayasinha, Becky Lucas & Frank Woodley
Episodes Covered – Jacket Off & A Sticky Situation