The ladies behind Dirty Thirties are called Lady Melville and Roxie Rebel, though unfortunately the evening I attended the latter had absconded. Neither of these monikers appear to be character names though – Lady Melville quickly admitted she was called Erin, presumably to segue into a painfully unfunny Kiwi impersonation.
Certainly there was nothing noble about her performance, which was constantly undermined by an undercurrent of aggression that occasionally bubbled up; a drunk but seemingly good natured heckler in the front row was first engaged by Melville, before being practically yelled at and eventually ejected by her during the set of her replacement partner (Morven Smith), completely distracting from her attempts at comedy. Other members of the front row were insulted repeatedly with racist slurs, though fortunately they appeared to be Melville and Smith’s friends. While they laughed in camaraderie, the rest of the audience couldn’t help but feel awkward.
Several times Melville strayed towards taboo or shocking humour, only to decide at the last moment that it wasn’t lady-like and that she wasn’t trying to offend. This was despite a frankly awful joke about being a special needs teacher that made me glad she’d left the profession – it’s better for the world if she doesn’t return to her day job, despite being a lacklustre comedian. Similarly material on Marilyn Monroe basically asked the audience to laugh at her mental illness. It’s okay though, because Melville was quick to clarify ‘she was beautiful though!’
Morven Smith did well for someone pulled in at the last minute to replace Roxie Rebel, but her low key, occasionally funny observational humour seemed to rely on a solo gig set up, where the audience could get to know her. Nothing she said was outrageously funny, a few of her gags going over the heads of the audience and aiming for far too high a tone after Melville had brought it so low. However, her likability did manage to scrape another star and move this show from the bottom of the barrel.
This show has something of a history with past reviewers, so in an effort not to be ‘a little cancer tumour who refused to come along for the ride’ I volunteered myself as the youngest person in the room at twenty when Melville asked. Strangely this request for information didn’t trigger a joke, just some vague patronising sentiments before she moved on. Very little of her audience interaction led anywhere, except out the door for the confused heckler and his mate - I wish I could have joined them.