Felicity Ward may be the only comedian on the planet to be geographically billed as ‘London via Woy Woy’. By extension, it also kind of helps in describing her comedic approach to anyone unfamiliar with her. Ward’s humour is well travelled, it’s educated and it’s sharp as a tack, but it’s also bred from a small coastal town and never once shies away from that fact.
As Ward accustoms herself to performing at the senior-friendly time of 5:30pm, she blends in the general gist of her story – a potential tragedy that comes to (spoiler alert) a happy ending – with exceptional timing and as much energy as one can muster at this unconventional comedy hour. Simultaneously, she also pays homage to her roots by retelling a classic gag from her repertoire by way of her dear old dad, who is in the audience with several other family members.
A proud mental health advocate, Ward has been known to openly discuss her struggles and issues in her comedy – particularly in her last festival show, 2016’s What If There Is No Toilet?, which might quite literally be her finest hour. Here, health factors into the harrowing title of the show in an unexpected way – a testament to both Ward’s abilities as a performer and as an engrossing storyteller. The fact it lands somewhere between the logistics of passive-aggressive body movement and envisioning Rihanna as a chicken (don’t ask) is a further testament to this – whatever you’d like to call 50% More Likely To Die as a comedy show, it’s certainly not dull or short on ideas.
Admittedly, the stakes are not as high as they have been in Ward’s previous hours, and as such there’s not as much momentum when the landing is stuck. Still, these are ultimately minor quarrels when one is witnessing one of the most genuinely funny comics this country has produced this century.
You could truthfully watch Ward discuss more or less anything and get your money’s worth. This certainly includes Ward making chicken noises to the tune of famous classic pop songs (seriously, don’t ask), but it could even extend to her bantering with her extended family from afar. Whatever comes next, Ward just keeps you coming back. National treasure might be too strong a term, but she’s well on her way.
Photo: Jamie Williams
Felicity Ward was reviewed at the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent on Friday January 20 as part of Sydney Festival 2017.