Tony Martin: The Arse/Elbow Equation {Melbourne International Comedy Festival} – Comedy Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Tony Martin has had a spectacular career in the world of comedy.

Many remember the New Zealand born comic from his work with comedy group, The D-Generation and their various projects. Along with Mick Molloy, Martin would often provide the opening stand-up act for the now legendary ABC comedy sketch series The Late Show. He followed this on with the hugely successful radio program Martin/Molloy the contents of which resulted in 3 ARIA winning best of compilation albums.

With all his other work on TV, film, radio, and as an author, few Australians have not been brought immense joy from Martin over the years. A personal favourite comedian of mine, I first really encountered Martin in 2006 through his Triple M radio show, Get This. Working in a large factory I made a conscious effort to be as close to a radio as possible when Get This was on, whichever timeslot it happened to be in that month! Certain gags such as Rex Hunt’s infamous “I’m invincible” confession, I still reference to this day.

Added to this is my love of Bad Eggs, the 2003 comedy thriller Martin wrote and directed. That film’s witty script, comedic timing and originality is something I have grown to appreciate even more over time. Now, in the film’s 20th anniversary I think I would consider it my personal favourite Aussie comedy movie.

Shockingly, I had never set out to catch Tony Martin where he is most comfortable, as a stand-up comedian. This all changed as I caught Martin’s 2023 MICF show The Arse/Elbow Equation. This is a revival of a catalogue of personal stories Martin debuted several years ago. This show contains some new bits and some classics, much of which prove terribly embarrassing for Martin.

The Arse/Elbow Equation is a reflection back on Martin’s 58 years on this earth and he shows little sign of slowing down. The show is an undeniably hilarious hour of storytelling and observational humour in the honest and natural way any fan has come to expect of Tony Martin.

From empathising with crazy people, colonoscopies, to gaslighting, nothing is sacred and Martin makes all of it gut-busting. The packed crowd and I were eating it up from start to finish. I saw many of my fellow audience members front row mouth agape with interest in where he was going to go next.

I think a truly funny person has the ability to not just repeat written material but to be able to make it up on the fly. So impressive too are Martin’s abilities as an improviser, able to roll instantly with whatever unexpectedly comes along. A glass breaks in the back of the room or loud police sirens blare outside and without missing a beat Martin effortlessly weaves it into his current diatribe.

Just like his autobiographical books 2005’s ‘Lolly Scramble’ and 2009’s ‘A Nest of Occasionals’ (if you know, you know), the name The Arse/Elbow Equation promises an interesting look into Tony Martin’s world. As the show goes on, it becomes clear that the title reflects just how much of this show is entirely fresh material. Not one moment of Martin’s act feels dated or uninspired. But even if you have caught this same show several years ago, you owe it to yourself to see it again.

Tony Martin’s The Arse/Elbow Equation now playing at Basement Comedy Club (Morris House) as part of the 2023 Melbourne International Comedy Festival until 7th of April 2023.
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One thought on “Tony Martin: The Arse/Elbow Equation {Melbourne International Comedy Festival} – Comedy Review”

  1. Ross McPhee says:

    I’ll never get impatient with a Berocca tablet dissolving too slowly again, or get into an argument with a mattress.

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