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Comedy shows without big names and fancy festival venues always need to work a little harder for their laughs. Smaller premises mean that giggles carry and there is always a squishy situation as the performer is eyeball to eyeball with the front row.

Dave Bloustien, performing at the Evatt Room in Trades Hall, overcame these problems creatively.

Grand Guignol
is a blend of puppetry, stand-up comedy and anecdotes which made the audience scream with laughter and clutch their faces in fear. Tiny Hansel and Gretel puppets dart across the screen in between stories, and Bloustien must be commended for his creepy German accents.

Each anecdote celebrated the grotesque, leaving the audience feeling horrified and strangely titillated at each twist. Exploits in coffee growing, the imagined initiation of one of ALP's 'faceless men' and the adventures of a salesman called Tupperware Jack all ended violently but were brilliantly observed.

The common thread of horror running through Grand Guignol was offset by Bloustien's chuckling absurdity and his ability to joke on his feet.

Not a show for the easily nauseated or those who object to naughty jokes (the opening story about Tutankhamun's erstwhile nether regions was a highlight), Dave Bloustien's Grand Guignol is a refreshing change from the usual prattling style that self-indulgent stand-up seems to take.

At 55 minutes, the show feels almost too short – Bloustien is a clever comic talent and the terrifying tales seem to fly by.

For more on the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, head here.


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