Few can pull off prop comedy. It can feel gimmicky at the best of times, and even then, funky props definitely can’t hide an obvious lack of comedic talent. It takes a special kind of person to make, say, five swords work for them on stage.
It appears, then, that Maddy Weeks is that kind of person.
Blade University revolves around a niche meme (think sword- wielding, fedora-tipping, trench coat-wearing nice guys). Creating a comedy show around something that is already a joke in itself is a curious choice, but it is one that somehow paid off, no doubt due to Weeks’ ability to take something absurd—an idea, a prop, a yikes-y internet phenomenon—and truly make it her own. What’s more, she’s able to imbue the dumbest things with meaning. Her show was full of non-sequiturs that somehow made sense, and unbelievable stories that you found yourself believing.
There’s something captivating about Weeks. She has the type of charisma that makes you listen to everything she has to say, even if what she has to say is, in fact, a dick joke. Up on stage, every- thing about her demands attention. What’s more, she’s genuinely interesting, a sweet relief from the tired formula that it seems many comedians have come to follow when it comes to writing their punchlines. The show oscillated wildly between content that was disturbing, content that was Very Strange, and content that was simply loveable, and still managed to fit in a wholesome message about love, proud queerness, and being Enough. When it ended, I felt uplifted and powerful. I also felt amazed at how Weeks was able to smuggle five swords into Civic Pub.
This was Weeks’s first solo show, and there were some indications that she is somewhat inexperienced when it comes to doing a full hour of stand-up. For example, at one point she announced that she’s running out of time and that she’s cutting out some of her material so that she doesn’t get kicked out by the venue. While the show still flowed well, she was visibly anxious, which made audience members somewhat anxious as well. This was a reasonably small flaw in an otherwise superb show, however.
I’m looking forward to seeing Weeks captivating comedy audiences around the country in the coming years; and also to seeing her in our living room, where we both sometimes hang out.
Maddy Weeks is currently performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until Sunday April 21 as part of Constantly Screaming, a split bill at Pilgrim Bar with fellow Canberra comedian Frankie McNair.