The holiday season has come and gone, leaving the usual spate of swollen bellies, appetites having been saturated with twenty different kinds of alcohol and all manner of rich food, empty bank accounts and a sense of relief at not having to turn up at the umpteenth celebratory meal. On the plus side, of course, it has also brought with it the merriment-soaked memories yielded by sundry get-together and catch-up occasions with loved ones. Amid this whirlwind of events and meetings, I was lucky enough to catch a fabulous comedy show to add to the Christmas cheer.
The Clueless Comedy Collective’s “Getting Filthy with Vlad Ilich and James Ryder” brought along the right dosage of raucous humour and silly moments to the festive season. Appropriately held last December at Valletta’s very own museum to vintage porn now turned bar and events venue, City Lights, the evening proved to be a laugh-a-minute affair showcasing some of the most interesting comedy talents on offer around the Maltese islands or who hold some kind of relation to the rock. Let’s start off with the individual comedians’ connection to the Maltese islands. With Edward Vassallo and James Ryder, the first and third acts respectively, it’s easy – they’re both local. Brandon Calleja Shaw, who originally hails from Alabama, was pulled by the heartstrings to the island and is now happily hitched to a Malteser, who just happens to be an artist of sorts herself, in this case poetry being her chosen medium. Vlad Ilich himself has a twofold tie to the island – he lived in Malta for a number of years, and also has a Maltese partner.
Now for the acts themselves! The show kicked off with Edward Vassallo, who, despite his tender age, has already cut his teeth on the comedy circuit in Malta, performing at bars such as Casey’s in Gzira. Edward’s quirky turn at musical comedy using, of all things, a ukulele, was a breath of fresh air in that it combined effortless, shrug-your-shoulders flowing quips with synchronised strumming. Offering self-deprecating snippets about his life in a deadpan way which he accompanied with appropriately-styled tunes, his jokes elicited many a chuckle and was a refreshing way to start off an evening featuring a bellyful of laughs. Edward’s comedic outpourings were swiftly followed by Brandon Calleja Shaw’s act, which featured a much earthier, bawdier kind of humour. With references to bodily functions, tussles with the mundanity of quotidian life and farcical relationship situations, Calleja Shaw’s comedy is what I imagine a contemporary twist on medieval funniness might sound like – tragicomic with a dash of slapstick. It also drew on some references to expat experiences of living in Malta – just the ticket for an audience which was as multicultural as the one we presented.