If you didn’t know any better, you might think Bennett’s Lane was just another dead-end, empty laneway in Melbourne’s CBD. From Little Lonsdale Street, it certainly looks like another forsaken alley. So few people would know that at its end is a pop-up venue for one of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s more overlooked acts.
But there it is, at first obscured from sight: a charmingly small impromptu venue for Hues Blanes and the Moon. The venue, Batty Patty’s, pays tribute to Melbourne’s very own crazy cat lady who once lived there, and whose portrait is now memorialised on the façade in femme fatale fashion.
It’s a fitting venue for Hue Blane’s Melbourne comedy show debut. Because like the building itself, Hue Blanes and the Moon is quirky. It’s not for everybody – this isn’t mainstream comedy – but there’s something soulful and genuine about the performance.
Hue Blanes and the Moon
Now if you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of Hue Blanes before, it’s because he isn’t a comedian. In fact, Hue Blanes is one of the best jazz musicians in town, a master pianist and soulful singer.
It shows in his work. Sometimes his soft crooning and enchanting melodies make it difficult to catch the punchline. And the whole show is more eccentric than punch-in-your-gut funny. It will draw plenty of wry smiles and a few hearty chuckles.
The one-hour show is directed by award-winning actor and playwright Travis Cotton. It juxtaposes the mundane ordinariness of life with the unexpected bursts of emotion that often interrupts it.
Throughout the performance, you feel almost voyeuristic, stumbling into Hue’s inner musings. In between songs, he plays monologues from a crackling radio as he goes about menial everyday tasks – helping himself to a beer, sweeping the floor, praying to Cheesus.
In his songs, no subject is spared, from the moon to Vladimir Putin to his own friends’ bizarre traits (in a refreshingly jaunty song that proved a favourite with the crowd). The whole production provides a commentary on society and our own self-obsessed natures.
“Blanes is both a master of the piano and a gifted composer and singer; a bold new work by a surprising and unique artist.” – Eddie Perfect
Sometimes you get so carried away with the impressive piano work that you forget the listen to the lyrics. But that’s OK – the music alone is surprisingly expressive and humorous.
At times, the transition from accomplished music to melancholic musings can seem a bit disjointed. But then, life isn’t made up of seamless transitions either.
Hue Blanes and the Moon is more than just a comedy skit. It’s a pocket piece of the real Melbourne.
It isn’t just music and lyrics. The show is everything from the retro posters pinned to the wall behind a grand piano, to the crates holding up the lights, to the torn, scrawled drinks list. It’s cosy and intimate. The barman is a brother and Hue himself mingles with the crowd before and after the performance.
It’s this passion and drive for art above profit that makes this show noteworthy. These performers are what makes Melbourne – optimistic, laid-back, artistic locals doing something for a laugh or simply, really, just because they can.
Hue Blanes is one of 2000 Comedy Festival performers, which means it can be hard to coax people onto his plot on the MICF website, down the nondescript lane, and into the charmingly haphazard Batty Patty’s.
But if you’re up for anything, if you’re keen to get away from the comedy crowds and see something a little more underground, this performance, made with an incredible amount of talent and a great deal of heart, may be the thing for you.
Hue Blanes and the Moon Tickets
When: 7pm, Wednesdays to Sundays until 17 April
Where: Batty Patty’s, 24 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne
Cost: All tickets $20 – Book them here
Unfortunately, if you don’t get a good view of Hue and his dramatics, you’re missing half the comedy. If you lose out on the front row seats, it may pay to grab a chair at the back, where you can stand up from time to time.
Please note this is an adults only event. For more about Hue Blanes, check out his Facebook page.
Note: Though I was invited to attend Hue Blanes and the Moon, all views expressed in this article are my own.