I had a set plan for my interview with Oliver Coleman. I’d introduce myself, ask him how he’s finding the Fringe Festival so far, learn a bit about his comedy upbringing then gain some deeper insight by asking how he’s managing expectations and nerves after being nominated for Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s ‘BestNewcomer’ Award and the festival’s prized Golden Gibbo earlier this year…
That all went out the window after I saw, or rather, experiencedhis performance of ‘Poolside’ on Tuesday night at the Fringe Hub in Trades Hall. Though I was able to work through these interview formalities, in the end I, much like the show itself, began improvising sections and I found myself wanting to know more about the man and the mission behind all the brilliant chaos that had unfolded.
Ollie’s exhibition of absurdity lived up to and surpassed expectations and its nomination for the Golden Gibbo at MICF, described as an award for a show that pursues the artists’ idea more than commercial gain, could not be a more apt description. The show displays all the stylings of his unique craft, in his words ‘a meeting point between stand up and character and sketch and clown’ in one of the most passionately fanciful stand-up acts Fringe has to offer. It is hilarity and insanity combined and personified. His intensity (pardon the ongoing alliteration) is the lifeblood of his performance and charges it forward at such an astounding pace you’ll be amazed when he finally breaks character to wrap the whole thing up.
Though he says he’s ‘still exploring style… and still changing parts’ of his show, it’s clear that his time workshopping Poolsidethrough MICF and now Fringe Festival has given him the confidence to bring about his own natural humour throughout the performance. ‘I’m quite comfortable being myself on stage’ he says, and that reality shines through as he casually tosses between characters and sketches, ad-libbing moments when it feels right, creating an atmosphere of anticipation that keeps the audience guessing.
Behind those closed doors, however, Ollie says he’s ‘always nervous… right up to the point the audience starts walking in’. Couple this with the weight of expectation following his success at MICF, which he marks as a ‘confidence booster and a confidence loser’, Oliver Coleman has quite a lot on his plate pre-show.
But once he hits the stage… well, I highly suggest you just go and see for yourself. He’s playing at Fringe Hub in Trades Hall (cnr Lygon and Victoria st) until 29thSeptember, so do yourself a favour and go catch Poolsidewhile you can!