Mitch Alexander and Jackson Voorhaar pitch themselves as die-hard metal heads, but I can’t say the material or quality of their performance had me entirely convinced. I walked into the show with the expectation they were to devote the next hour towards poking fun at the stereotypical modern metal head. And while there were elements of the show that remained true to the theme, too often they strayed far off topic. What made it more disappointing was that Satan’s Finest made little effort to connect with the audience, which resulted in numerous uncomfortable moments of awkward applause.
But not all aspects of the show were mediocre. Alexander began by informing us that establishments such as metal nightclubs do actually exist in our city—even if a Saturday night only attracts the odd 12 or so metal fanatics head-banging to a Slayer song in a small huddle in the middle of the dance floor. He also shed some light on the generally misunderstood nature of heavy, black metal lyrics and how the words of some commercial pop tunes (masked by their auto-tuned, upbeat tone and the artist’s squeaky clean facade) can be equally, if not more, questionable if critically analysed. Voorhaar followed on to brave an attempt at defining the term ‘satanism’, describing how the ongoing blasts of death metal have caused him to suffer from a serious case of tinnitus and a complete loss of hearing in one ear, which is far from a laughing matter.
It wasn’t long, however, before it became painfully apparent that both comedians had presumed too heavy a reliance on the audience. With only small numbers congregating before the stage for their opening show, the audience provided minimal comic material for the performers to feed off. Alexander and Voorhaar often found themselves short of content and repeatedly resorted to unrelated rants, which included Alexander’s scorn for firework displays, his embarrassing nude modelling experience and Jackson’s great fondness of jumping castles. The very structure of the act itself, whereby each performer took to the stage independently, one after the other, led to a somewhat disjointed act.
More rehearsal, a broader range of material, stronger execution and better communication between the comedians prior to the show would have made for a more cohesive performance. Both men appeared to knowingly struggle for ideas. The last-resort stabs at crude humour, while laughable when used sparingly, drew a bit thin towards the end.
Satan’s Finest is playing 29 September to 6 October at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
Originally published at Crikey’s Laugh Track.