Nestled in the heart of the Melbourne Town Hall lie multiple different rooms named after their antiquated, 19th Century uses. Amongst the “Powder Room”, and the “Regent Room”, underneath the Town Hall lives the “Lunch Room”. On every Monday for the duration of the Comedy Festival, a very special event, not often seen in comedy will occur. The delightfully intriguing yet forebodingly intense idea that is “Lights Out Laughs” is a genius form of stand up where the lights are turned off and the audience is blindfolded. A comedy event raising awareness, and funds for the Fred Hollows Foundation not only is this a perfect show for the curious but a fantastic show for the altruistic.

MC’d by ex-SYNner Marcus Ryan, an hour of pure darkness filled most audience members with a sense of trepidation. After slipping on the provided blindfolds a sort of tension seemed to enter the room, and this was the entire point of the exercise. Without sight, any sense of cohesion or any knowledge of what exactly was going on was out the window. As a radio fan and a member of a radio station here at SYN, we should be used to audio-only mediums but this experience felt completely different. The presence of other people made a sort of sense of community and camaraderie fill the room, which is a rarity when hearing radio. Experiencing the comedy purely from hearing and sense was a strange experience, and the comedians tended to abuse this fact. Surprise appearances from “Dave Hughes” and “naked” comedians were hilarious purely because we had no idea if it was true or not. “Was that really Dave Hughes performing just then?” or “is the comedian really naked on stage?” are questions you ask yourself during the show, but sadly, the answer will never be granted.

The three comedians, Gordon Southern (UK), Paco Erhard (Germany) and Luke Joseph-Ryan (of Luke and Wyatt fame) all performed hilarious sets. My personal favourite, Luke, with a past in radio, had an incredible sense of awkward tension in his delivery that was perfect for the audio-only set. Paco and Gordon were also terrific comedians that, despite the darkness, had a great sense of how to deliver jokes and keep the audience laughing. The three comedy festival shows for Paco, Jake and Gordon can’t be recommended enough, and their three sets were fabulous tasters for their future festival shows.

Overall, the idea of the show is incredibly ambitious and unique. Writing this review now, it’s hard to put into words and pinpoint the feeling having your eyesight taken away feels like. The feelings of incoherence and lack of assurance made for an, ironically, eye-opening experience. Understanding that these feelings are also a day to day experience for a large number of the population is also incredibly interesting. Marcus must be commended on his initiative to put on such an absorbing and fascinating way to put on a comedy show. Some of the performances on the night were a tad rocky and maybe that was because a pitch-dark gig is not a usual one. Also, some of the sound issues were strange but forgiven due to the extreme lack of light. Any fan of comedy should definitely get down to see this show. It’s not only for a good cause but it’s also an incredibly captivating way to experience a comedy show, which I’m sure will be rare to see in a lifetime.

Written by Paul Waxman, In Joke’s Executive Producer 

You can access tickets for the charity event here:

20% of proceeds go towards the Fred Hollows Foundation!