À la carte stand-up is back on the menu as Michael Shafar reinvents his 3 Course Comedy special with local SA stars Michael Connell and Kel Balnaves. (Image source: Adelaide Fringe)

By Simone Pickstock | @SimonePickstock

All that stands in the open amphitheatre is a single shipping container. It’s almost completely bare, humbly decorated with only a microphone and a stool. The promise is that laughter will fill the space. There’s no need for flashy lights or bells and whistles here.

Creator and lead performer Michael Shafar begins the act with disappointing news for some: due to travel complications original cast members Peter Jones and Joseph Green are stuck in Melbourne. Undeterred by this hiccup, Shafar pleases audiences by recruiting two of Adelaide’s best in their place, circuit regulars Kel Balnaves and Michael Connell.     

There’s a lot of anticipation in the air as Balnave strolls onto the stage and rightly so, he recently won the Fringe’s Best Comedy Award for his one-man show Useful. The audience smile as he shares exaggerated anecdotes about the pain of driving on South Road, but giggles are sparse. This appears to affect him as he takes extensive pauses between jokes, as if expecting people to chuckle loudly, but his confidence falters when they don’t arrive. Eventually he recovers, his pointed observations on cultural awareness and generational gaps regenerating energy in the crowd. Someone has to serve baby boomers the truth and Balnave does.

Next up is Connell, a talented juggler, busker and ‘banana-man’ wannabe. His enthusiasm is infectious. From the moment Connell’s moustache twitches into a toothy grin, to when he whips out his juggling balls, he delights and captures your attention. A master of multitasking and self-deprecation, Connell canters about the container pulling faces, executing tricks and projecting like a foghorn. His main meal takes you off simmer and leaves you wondering if dessert could possibly taste any better.   

A seasoned professional, Shafar delivers the goods. Inspiration for his material is quite personal; everything from disability, immigration, the holocaust, and testicular cancer is put on the table. Shafar sees the world and is unafraid to question hypocrisy. Although it might not sound sweet, surprisingly it does tantalise. Shafar’s keen eye transforms the mundane into bite-sized parcels of bliss. Dependant on how strong your stomach is, some quips have the potential to offend. That said, if you’re not adverse to the odd sour treat, his set is near perfect.

The 3 Course Comedy trio are dishing up laughs at The Piglet in Gluttony until March 14 2021.