This fun and whimsical show from Crikey cartoonist (cartoobist?) First Dog On The Moon is entertaining and charming, dispensing laughs and food for thought in equal measure.
First Dog On The Moon (known to his bank as Andrew Marlton) has become one of the favoured web presences amongst those who would likely consider themselves high-functioning. His cartoons, drawn for Crikey
, are frequently circulated via Twitter, and his own account on that particular site has over 16,000 followers. He’s also built a reputation as a compelling public speaker, having appeared at the likes of the Melbourne Writers’ Festival. Putting on a show at the Melbourne Fringe Festival is a different kettle of fish though, especially for someone whose focus is on cartooning, not performance. Did it work?
The answer is yes.How to Draw Cartoobs and Other Typos is a charming way to pass an hour as Marlton walks his audience through some gentle comedy, some more challenging ideas (in the form of his ‘orations’), and then through some... interpretive dance.
The show opens with Marlton (decked out in a nice suit) standing behind a lectern, sketching the audience in his signature style as they take their seats. He then instructs everyone to ‘talk amongst yourselves’ while he gets his PowerPoint up and running. He leaves the audience to their own devices for an almost unsettlingly long time, but in the end, he’s a pro: all doubts are erased by the first few slides, which relax any frustrations that may have been growing.
On stage, Marlton is affable. He’s the sort of man who can proclaim himself to be a ‘national treasure’ without seeming insufferably arrogant or pathetically self-deprecating. Instead, he gives the sense that both he and the audience are in on some sort of massive private joke. He isn’t boisterous in the presentation of his ideas, but he certainly has them, and through his ‘orations’ he gives an insight into what he thinks about difficult topics such as feminism (but only after changing the title of that particular segment from, ‘Chicks: What Even Are They?’ Few people can pull off such a joke, but the effortlessly charming Marlton is one of them). And, of course, the cartoons shown throughout the show are simply wonderful.
Most of the problems fall within the realm of the technical. At his first performance, Marlton fortunately evaded near-disaster when his laptop gave out mid-show (always a risk, and rarely an avoidable one when a computer is involved in a performance). More concerning is his decision not to use a microphone. Marlton speaks well, but his voice isn’t of the variety that naturally projects, and unfortunately for him, the stage beneath his feet had a tendency to squeak... loudly. It’s never a good sign when a squeaky piece of medium-density fibreboard is able to drown out a performer, and it’s a problem that a microphone could easily solve. (With any luck, he’ll consider making this change for the remainder of the run.)
For First Dog fans and lovers of politics, satire or both, it’d be hard to go wrong with How to Draw Cartoobs and Other Typos. The show may be difficult to describe, but it’s undoubtedly funny and provokes thought without becoming obnoxious about it.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
How To Draw Cartoobs And Other Typos
Written, produced, drawn and directed by First Dog On The Moon
Producer: Lefa Singleton-Norton
Musical Direction: Ben Birchall
Costume: Angela Vanzella
Choreography: Jade Butler
Website: Tim Norton
Venue Technician: Adam Grikepelis
Fringe Hub – The Loft, Lithuanian Club
6 – 13 October
Melbourne Fringe Festival
26 September – 14 October