Monash power-trio Ed Rickards, Jon Walpole and Oli Robertson are raising hell on stage with the planned absurdity and wit of anarchists circling their own initials in red.
The three – who perform as Bombastic JOE – debuted at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival last season to sold out audiences and have returned with an even more outrageous sequel-of-sorts.
Descend into The Fiery Depths of Heck welcomes you back into their obscure world of daftness and self-deprecation, stripped of all reason.
The group first came together in the Monash Comedy Law Revue in 2016 and 2017.
Bombastic JOE and self-acclaimed “cast cowboy” (director), Oscar Hebblewhite, spoke about their show, and why you should be there.
Ed: Jon and I first met in high school at the senior play auditions. The moment I saw him I immediately thought "I don’t get the appeal". After that I avoided him for several years, didn’t return his texts, never called him back. To this day I still don’t understand what he’s about.
Jon: There was definitely a block out period where Ed and my relationship went straight off the radar. This was quite on purpose. It wasn’t until Ed truly stepped off his stool and suggested we make this comedy group that we became friends.
Ollie: While they were doing these plays, dancing and what not, I was just a young boy on the streets of Maldova. My main "schtick" was bears.
Ed: He had a small bear, Boris.
Ollie: Yeah so, from Australian sensibilities it does look a bit cruel but I had a very close relationship with the bear. Boris could ride this unicycle around his cage and I would cheer.
Ed: He grew out of that, artistically.
Ollie: A few years later I got myself adopted down under, went to this audition at Monash and saw Ed doing some cool things. Then I saw Jon prancing to and fro on stage and thought, "that young man reminds me of my little bear".
Oscar: And the rest is history.
Ed: I think it’s important to note that by coming to our show, you will definitely learn a thing or two about Heck that you didn’t know before.
Jon: There’s nowhere else you will ever learn about it.
Ed: When people see our poster all they see is flames.
Jon: And that’s because we drew flames on the poster.
Ollie: But heck is more than flames. Heck is within. It is around us. In our day and age, we live very happy lives. But I think sometimes it’s good to sit back and see how disgustingly dark and horrific the world is as a place. And that is something to think about.
Jon: But without all the negative connotations, with a fun and happy atmosphere.
Ed: It’s the juxtaposition of the two, really. I don’t think anyone has ever done a piece of artwork that looks at the balance between good and evil. We’re sort of the first guys to do that.
Jon: I agree, in the show there is this amazing juxtaposition between the good and bad. Because some sketches are good and some are just really, really bad. As in not funny. I would say 50-55 per cent of the show is deliberately bad.
Jon: Well, to be fair, the "good" is actually just okay.
Ollie: Jon is a handsome man. Tall, cute, nice smile … a certain bear-like quality? He is very funny, tells funny jokes, does funny faces and dances, not unlike, a small bear. Rather unusual. He’s very reminiscent of a young baby bear, cornered in a small cage after a day of being prodded by a small boy. Yeah, that’s my impression of Jon.
Oscar: Ed is very unique, he has a very special talent. Every time he walks into a room you immediately feel this overwhelming feeling of … discomfort? Initially, he comes across with a confident, almost selfish, persona. Then as this act spirals out of control you realise, in fact, that it’s just a front for his own emotional insecurity. His inability to please not only himself but also his father, most notably. And I think that’s a pretty cool part about Ed’s personality.
Ed: Well, I thought I’d go for a more objective take on Ollie. As I speak, he has one of his trademark ear-to-ear smiles, a third of his face just teeth. His skin has got a wet, leathery quality to it. There’s a suspiciously placed patch on his right shoulder, it appears to look like the red "no smoking" symbol, but under the red cross is a swastika. So, I think it means he is anti-Nazi, but I assumed he kinda … was?
Jon: I’ve started driving Uber.
Ollie: Just to clarify, Uber is a 75-year-old disabled Russian man. He’s a big fan of the show.
Jon: Yes, he pays me well. I’m saving up to travel Europe at the end of this year, so just doing a few casual jobs and that.
Ollie: Just to clarify, by traveling through Europe he means Eastern Russia, with Uber.
Bombastic JOE is Oaks on Market, 60 Market St, CBD, until 21 April.