High Pony opens with a nine-minute spectacle that’s an ode to the queer undertones of netball – as they say, it’s the “gayest straight sport”. Behind the performers are netball bibs hanging from a line that crosses the stage, almost like some kind of bunting. This opening number hooks the audience instantly, as it’s an all-too-familiar touchstone for Australian women who grew up playing the sport, with their hair in a “high pony”.

As Mel and Sam (Mel O’Brien and Samantha Andrew) state, High Pony is set nowhere in particular. It is an eclectic series of cabaret and observational-comedy skits which includes sentiments like cancelling babies, takes on water-slide operators, and 14-year-old eshays who have dreams of being florists or ballet dancers.

The original music is catchy, and the lyrics are as mad as they are brilliant. This is exemplified in a duet about the loneliness of Wally, from Where’s Wally?. The pair don white- and red-striped beanies, scarfs and tops, and of course Wally’s spectacles, in what is one of the many costume changes throughout the hour-long show.

Mel & Sam have grown to fill an important space in queer musical-comedy, particularly regarding lesbians and lesbian relationships. The song “Lesbians Don’t Get the Ick” – a title which is plastered all over merch – was a crowd favourite that gave centre-stage to the good, bad and quirky dynamics of a lesbian couple coming down in IKEA after a big night. The specificity of the observations in High Pony are what resonate best with audiences and enhance the comedy.

The pair’s performance style flawlessly connects to contemporary audiences. Mel & Sam know exactly who they are talking to and present fast-paced sketches that replicate the nature of Instagram or TikTok reels, which we are endlessly scrolling through in search of our next dopamine hit. It makes High Pony as addictive as social media.

Shows like this only work with complete commitment from the performers. Mel & Sam break into a sweat minutes after coming on stage, and while their cardio capacity is impressive, they don’t stop sweating until the final note. Their voices are amplified and consistently striking, ensuring audiences never miss a word, let alone a joke.

Most of all, they aren’t scared of poking fun at themselves, and that invites audiences to laugh with them, even when the jokes appear outrageous.

High Pony is at the Kingfisher in Gluttony until March 17.

Read more 2024 Adelaide Fringe coverage here on InReview.

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