NINA CONTI – TALK TO THE HAND
If you haven't seen Nina Conti live you're missing out – her 2008 show deservedly won a Barry and she seems to have become a MICF regular since. I don't know that you can rekindle that first experience, though, and while her 2010 outing is deceptively heroic it lacks the wow factor I felt the first time I caught her act.
Conti's a ventriloquist who reinvigorates the art by inverting its familiar conventions or introducing other modes of comedy normally alien to a dummy routine. She also invigorates the art by being a pretty lady. That's not exactly reinventing the wheel but if you know much of the history of ventriloquism you'll know it's no fashion parade.
Talk to the Hand's shtick might seem familiar if you know Conti already, but it actually features some disarmingly fresh stuff. There's plenty of impro, a lot of audience interaction, local references (Kerri-Anne Kennerley is called a “cocksucking whore” at one point), a stooge planted in the crowd, a live phone prank where Conti calls a random hotel in character, some clairvoyance and other magic stuff and even a bravado sequence in which she turns several punters into dummies themselves. Perhaps the most typically atypical moment comes when she swaps voices with one of her puppets, which begins to speak as Conti while she takes on its voice. It's simple, conceptually, but hugely effective when put in practice. Sums up the show, that.