Reuben Kaye: The Kaye Hole {Melbourne International Comedy Festival} – Comedy Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In the first week of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, I attended Reuben Kaye’s new show, ’Live and Intimidating’. It was a wild ride of chaotic energy and is easily one of the best shows I have seen at this year’s festival. However, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be able to get a double dose of Reuben’s token cabaret style. The second comes at the hand of a variety show, hosted by Reuben Kaye, titled ’The Kaye Hole’.

Judging by the start time, after 11pm on Saturday the 15th of April, I already knew I was in for quite the show. With a warning of nudity and strong adult themes, I strapped myself in for what would be the most amazing, chaotic, unhinged evening of cabaret.

Although we were held back from taking our seats for about twenty minutes while the crew frantically completed a sound check, the excitement was building. By the time we were finally seated, the energy at the Forum Theatre was palpable.

Introducing the show was a character simply known as Satan. Holding a clipboard and dressed up in a grey business suit, the lone figure’s opening monologue gave us a taste for what was to come. Poking fun at how the views of some would have others ‘burn in hell’ for their lifestyle choices, Satan then began to strip down, revealing the incredible artwork inked on his skin. Before long, he was naked, strapping a rope to his dick and literally dragging Reuben Kaye onto the stage.

Reuben was dressed in a patchwork of bright red mesh, leather, and vinyl. Or as Reuben described, “Dressed as the blood they are not allowed to donate”. The outfit received a resounding applause and deafening cheers. He looked incredible! Reuben’s opening number is a combination of monologue and song. The underlying message is clear, it does not matter who or what you are, or how or who you choose to love, you are perfect. Reuben also gives us a taste for what is to come, requesting the eager crowd to open their eyes, minds, and hearts, and just appreciate the art we were about to witness.

The evening’s entertainment kicked off with Michelle Brasier along with her partner Tim Lancaster on guitar. Brasier introduces the tune she is about to perform as an original song that she wrote, and then kicks into an incredible cover of 4 Non-Blondes ’What’s Up?’. When the audience began to sing along, Brasier responded with “How do you know the words? I wrote it!”. Not only is she hilarious but Brasier has the vocal ability to match. With the lyrics of ’scream the top of my lungs’, Brasier did exactly just that and I was completely blown away by her vocal ability and talent.

Next up was Jay Wymarra, dragged out onto the stage by two scantily clad ‘coloniser slaves’ upon a tiny plastic children’s tricycle. This proud indigenous, queer, stand-up comic had me in stiches right from the get-go. Not only did they refer to themselves as a ‘Torres Strait, correction, Torres Queer’ individual.

Wymarra also referred described Reuben Kaye as a Gay Reptile’ and not a man. Wymarra’s routine was quick witted and very in tune with the First Nations battles they still face today. They also did so through song with the aide of a ukelele. Before I knew it, their time was up. As they left the stage, Wymarra decided to play tonsil hockey with Reuben. This left Reuben with a face full of smeared lipstick that remained for the rest of the show. And honestly, it suited the vibe perfectly!

As we headed towards the halfway mark, we were treated with two incredible performances. First was Betty Bombshell, with a big, bold, and sexy as hell burlesque number. Having seen Betty before during one of the many times I have seen Oracle, I thought I knew what I was in for. She put on an absolute killer routine, complete nipple tassels placed on her ass for a twerk segment that had the audience melting in her hands and on their feet by the end.

The next was at the hand of Malia Walsh. Normally known for her circus routines, her segment was far from anything I expected. Walking onto the stage in a summer dress with a handbag over the shoulder, and arriving at what appeared to be a fake toilet cubical, Walsh lifts the seat, pulls down her panties and proceeds to sit. With the audience already gasping and giggling around me, it was when she went to wipe did the performance really kick in.

With perfect timing to the backing track of Nick Cave’s ’Red Right Hand’, you can probably imagine what comes next. That’s right, Walsh’s performance was a period piece, literally! It only escalated to the point of her being covered in tomato sauce by a lone individual prancing around the stage. The number concluded with a thunderous applause as Walsh fiercely marched out of the ‘cubicle’ and through the crowd.

The Kaye Hole also delivered with a death-defying dual rope act from a performer, Leo Pentland. Dressed in nothing but sparkling silver hot pants, Pentland’s performance had the entire audience gasping as they spun high above, only to fall and stopping inches above the stage floor. I also couldn’t help but notice the band’s bass player ducking and weaving as Pentland spun around above her. Her body language was exactly how I was feeling stuck in my seat. With a finale that had Pentland hanging from nothing but his head, the whole routine had me speechless.

As Reuben Kaye was wrapped up the show, the amazing tech crew began to unfold a gigantic tarpaulin onto the stage. Seemingly unaware of what was to come next, a scream bellowed from the rear of the Forum Theatre.

Running down the aisle was a fully naked woman with a strange looking helmet. It was Tara Boom, known for her burlesque crossed with circus clown work, and she was ready to blow us all away. It finally clicked; the helmet was a popcorn machine! And somehow, Boom was going to pop some popcorn. Not only did she start popping some corn, but Boom did so whilst hula hopping and running around naked on stage. But it didn’t stop there!

The popcorn lacked taste, so she began to smear butter all over her body then hula hooped some more. You’d think that was it, but no! Popcorn needs salt, right? But she was naked, no pockets anywhere, where would she put the salt? You guessed it! Right inside her vagina! The crowd were in hysterics, and the applause was deafening. Tara Boom’s performance closing out The Kaye Hole was the perfect summary of everything that unfolded beforehand, crazy, exciting, and hilarious.

Now, there is one performance that I have yet to mention because I feel that this individual deserves to be mentioned last, but certainly no means the least, the incredible Jordan Gray. Introduced by Reuben Kaye as one of the best acts they have ever seen, and as a woman having the festival of their life, Jordan Gray is easily the crown jewel of Saturday night’s Kaye Hole. Having only just seen their solo show hours beforehand, I knew what I was in for. But I was at no point jaded by her performance.

As an out and proud trans-woman, Jordan literally stripped down to nothing within minutes of getting on stage. Proudly showing off her body, complete with her ‘dual treat package‘, Jordan shouts, ”You’ve discovered my secret! I’m ginger!”. Many would call Jordan Gray brave for what they are doing, and while she is, she is also inspirational. Not only is Jordan Gray a highlight of The Kaye Hole, but her solo show is a personal highlight of the entire festival.

The Kaye Hole is one of the wildest, surprising, inspirational, educational, and damn right hilarious shows I have ever seen. Not only are the individual performances unforgettably outstanding, Reuben Kaye is a powerhouse of a host. After all, it is his show and Reuben does not shy away from this fact. Reuben’s crowd work is unbeatably quick witted, and he has a vocal range that will blow your socks off.

With the wide range of individuals on stage and in the audience, and every show different depending on the guests (this is a variety show after all), The Kaye Hole stage is a very safe space of love and freedom of expression. Honestly, if more people thought like Reuben Kaye does, the world would be a much safer and welcoming place.

With only one performance left this coming Saturday, the 22nd of April, all I can say is get to The Kaye Hole and experience a night like no other.

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