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Munching through an all-you-can-eat Garden buffet


Erica Visser is like a kid in a lolly shop at this year’s Adelaide Fringe, attending three shows a night in The Garden of Unearthly Delights after winning a Golden Key to the parklands venue. With the Fringe heading towards its March 15 finale, Erica shares her some of her festival highlights.

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There’s something magical about The Garden of Unearthly Delights – and I should know, I’ve soaked up the atmosphere for 12 nights in a row like a spinach gozleme left too long in chili sauce.

Yes, I’m chronically tired and have been referring to my intensive Fringe show schedule as “shift work”.

But on the other hand I am fuelled by an intense drive to keep going back for more like a kid shovelling in mousse at a buffet dessert bar.

After all that’s what winning a Golden Key to The Garden, courtesy of Solstice Media, does to you, while casting insane jealousy on everybody you happen to tell (I let EVERY single person I come into contact with know about it).

In past years I have carefully perused The Garden guide, prioritising the big names in cabaret and comedy and taking a gamble on cheap Tuesday shows.

However this year’s Golden Key has meant there has been nothing careful about my selection – it’s all about quantity, baby!

Each evening I park near the National Wine Centre, e-scoot around the corner, smash out three consecutive shows and inhale four cinnamon donuts. It’s all in a night’s work.

Standouts so far have included Steph Tisdall’s Baby Beryl, a show which is so down-to-earth it feels akin to hanging out in a friend’s lounge room shooting the breeze on a lazy weeknight.

At one point, Steph complains about her ill-fitting Kmart bra before showing the intimate crowd the “C-Cup” sized overflow of boob spilling out the side – which she christens “Trent” after my friend sitting next to me in the front row.

I even have a photo of Trent, Steph and the side-boob outside the Spare Room venue to prove it.

Fellow Australian stand-up comedian Nikki Britton also left us in hysterics during One Small Step – a show that even boasts educational value with Nikki introducing the crowd to the horrifying existence of the “rat king”. Google it … or on second thoughts, don’t.

I had no idea what to expect from Brett Blake’s Go Hard or Go Home, but soon warmed to the rugged comedian when he shouted each (adult) crowd member a Session Ale and even threw in a branded stubby holder.

Flaunting an impressive mullet, infectious energy and an unrelenting grudge towards Catch My Disease singer Ben Lee, Brett delivers a clever performance which epitomises what it means to be a “loose unit” in modern day Australian society.

On another note, I would see Abandoman’s Road to Coachella a dozen times over. The Irish hip-hop freestyler, aka Rob Broderick, collects tidbits of intel from willing crowd members and instantly crafts them into improvised raps accompanied by beats from the likes of Macklemore and Drake.

We heard witty verses about fellow Fringe-goer Shaun who sells hospital beds for a living through to Courtney who lied about living in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs to impress a first date.

There are many more worthwhile shows – I am still reeling after magician Dom Chambers pulled eight frothy pints out of a seemingly empty paper bag during Fake Wizard.

Not to mention Nina Oyama is ‘Doing Me’ Right Now, where the ABC actor of Twitter fame speaks straight to the heart of the left-wing millennial with a level of candid crudeness that is especially endearing.

I’m also suddenly an avid Frank Sinatra fan having been mesmerised during English lookalike Richard Shelton’s impersonation of the legendary performer in Sinatra: Raw.

And with another 27 shows to attend, I have plenty more to be impressed with between now and March 15, so no Married at First Sight chat around the water cooler for me.

My piece of advice to you – forget your prejudices, forget your budget, forget your family commitments and give into Garden fever.

It’ll be over again for another year before we know it.

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