MICF: Five Quick Questions with Brian Lobel

We recently talked to Brian Lobel about his performance piece You Have to Forgive Me, You Have to Forgive Me, You Have to Forgive Me where he spent time in people’s beds watching episodes of Sex & The City.

As part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Lobel is performing another brazen piece of performance art called Purge, where he debates the emotional connection we have with social media. We decided to ask him our five quick questions ahead of his performances.


What do you personally find enlightening about comedy today?

SO MUCH ACTIVISM! SUCH GREAT POLITICS! (from some). I am totally inspired and overwhelmed by people bringing their feminism, activism and intelligence to the stage. The world is a crazy place right now – has been for a while but still – and I find comedy a great way to break through the empathy and the desensitisation.

Can you explain how much you’ve changed as a performer in the last year?

I’ve become more interested in what the audience has to say. I used to do my shows in a spotlight with the audience in the dark, and now it’s mostly lights up the whole time. I want to listen as much as I perform – and I hope that this highlights the humour of the audience and in our own ability to entertain ourselves.

If you were to allowed to perform in any other public place other than a comedy venue or theatre, what would that place be? Describe the surrounds…

I’ve performed in so many places – forests, hospitals, spas, marketplaces, bars, clubs, dirty bars, dirty clubs, very dirty bars, very dirty clubs – but I’d really love to perform with the audience all suspended over a pit of quicksand. Don’t know why… but I think art’s gotten too safe.

Who else – apart from your own show – would you recommend to see at this year’s MICF?

Adrienne Truscott, Alice Fraser, or Stuart Bowden are the people I’m most excited about – their work is political, kookie, strange, powerful and genuinely awe-inspiring and entertaining. But most importantly, I would recommend someone that you know nothing about, and allow yourself to be surprised.

I would also recommend that you see someone who you think is cute, single and curly-haired. And you should hang around after the show and buy them a drink.

What message are you hoping audiences come away with after they see your show?

The moment most people get up in an audience, they open their phone, or turn it off silent, and check their messages, their facebook, their twitter, their grinder, their tinder. I’m hoping audience members, for even a split second, will pause and reconsider how they interact with social media. Maybe they’ll post more. Maybe they’ll post less. Maybe they’ll cull their friends, maybe they’ll add more. We are all fish, and what I want is for us all to consider the water of social media we’re swimming in, or at least consider it a bit more.


Brian Lobel performs Purge at  The Becket Theatre in The Coopers Malthouse as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. His run of shows is on from now until April 3. Get tickets here.


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