Gillian Cosgriff: Actually, Good {Melbourne International Comedy Festival} – Comedy Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Gillian Cosgriff’s ‘Actually, Good’ is not only funny, but it’s also superbly poignant and moved me to tears.

How is it that a comedy show made me cry? Well, ‘Actually, Good’ is that good. Not only is it an appropriate emotional release of the past few years that were forcefully halted due to Covid, but it’s nostalgic, openly reflective, and sincerely bittersweet.

Entering The Butterfly Club upstairs room, the stage consisted of only a keyboard and a little desk with a lamp. Sitting front row, I was ready to get up close and personal with Gillian. Although, I still wasn’t entirely sure what the show was about. This was also my first experience witnessing Cosgriff with her comedy cabaret hat on (not literally).

Gillian shared that what helped her get through the lockdown era was focusing on her inner optimistic self. After considering herself a pessimist, she found herself making a Top 10 list in reverse order filled with things that she likes and loves, whether it be items, moments, or things that give her joy. Our goal for the night? To work together with her and make our own collective list.

Hesitant at first, audience members were quick and keen to join along. Suggestions were thrown around from cooking the perfect poached egg, hearing your baby’s first cry, to waking up in a tent. Everything the audience contributed the night I attended was just so wholesome, I can only imagine the joy that this brings Cosgriff every night. Making a new list with new people and discovering the unique and different things that give them joy. As silly as it sounds, it was so entertaining and interesting to learn what made other people happy. For these brief moments, I also felt like I was part of a special community, working together on something good.

In between making a list, Cosgriff shared wonderfully catchy songs and displayed finesse on both the keyboard and loop pedal. Her songs were contagious hooks, and I am certain she can sing anything and everything, easily switching styles from a bouncy pop song, a swinging jazz number, to a melancholy ballad with her original tunes. But it was when Cosgriff appeared genuinely inquisitive and keen, happily making a list with her audience did she really shine. All while producing patrons with both a safe space and a nourishing experience.

With stories that addressed a chaos drawer, or calling up an industry mental health line, ‘Actually, Good’ isn’t just a comedy show. No. It’s so much more than that. It’s a thought provoking, imaginative, heart-warming life lesson that will surprise you and stay with you long after you’ve left the theatre. It is a tribute to love lost and positivity found. It is proof that not all storytelling can be adapted to different mediums, as I can only think of this brilliant story being told this way. And it is a reminder that happiness can be found in the smallest of places.

I am the type of person that often values stories that make me cry rather than those that make me laugh. In this case, ‘Actually, Good’ did both. I found myself cackling thorough the show but later on tried to pull my scarf over my face towards my eyes. I was still in the front row and as honest as this show was, I still somehow wanted to hide my tears from this phenomenal artist. Although now that I think about it, I’m certain it was obvious I was crying by how shiny my face was. I’m even getting teary thinking about this show as I type this. I also wasn’t the only one crying in the theatre that night.

The experience lasted longer for a select few patrons including myself, as we found ourselves collectively gathered, although strangers, curiously surrounding the book Gillian Cosgriff left behind. Together, we took turns read aloud every number 1 entry of the pages with the Top 10 lists that she had written.

Gillian Cosgriff is a national treasure. Not only am I inspired to make my own Top 10 list and will try look on the brighter side of life thanks to Gillian Cosgriff’s beautiful and clever show, ‘Actually, Good’. But while I watched her artfully inspire the audience, I couldn’t help but think about my friend who ignited my love for the theatre. One dear friend who I lost during Covid. He would have loved this show too.

Gillian Cosgriff is selling out fast and there are only a few tickets of ‘Actually, Good’ left at the 2023 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Her final show on April 23rd.
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