Yarn Spinning, Word Adelaide’s opening event, filled The Governor Hindmarsh Hotel on the promise of an evening of tall stories and an audience-voted battle for $1000 prize money. Competitors Michael Gillan, John .R. Sabine, Kevin Naughton and Tracey Korsten were joined by guest raconteurs John Schumann (musician and songwriter), comedian Eddie Bannon and former Triple M radio announcer Sheridan Stewart. Fellow guest 891 ABC presenter Ian Henschke swapped roles made the (perhaps rash) decision to throw his notes away and become a last-minute contender for the cash instead.
Some performances worked but others struggled to hold the audience with material that needed better editing and a lot more polish. Accomplished host Kitty Flanagan might make it look like a doddle but getting up there and getting it right is way, way harder than it appears. There was too much straying into stand-up territory and several moments where we were all yearning for someone to yell ‘cut!’ but there were plenty of highlights, too. Contestants Naughton, Sabine and Korsten all gave well-crafted performances and were obviously comfortable in the spotlight.
A couple of extra-special guests made surprise visits to the stage. Word Adelaide star attractions Guy Pratt – accomplished lyricist and bassist to big names including Pink Floyd, Robert Palmer, Icehouse – was a hit and festival headliner Matt Lucas shared a violently funny (true story) run-in with a light-fingered flower selling granny in London.
It was a long night (there was plenty of waffle and more than a few detours) but those who stuck around for the vote-counting were rewarded with a truly hilarious closing treat from Dave Flanagan. His award-winning 1993 yarn and opinions on Adelaide’s ‘different’ approach to transport might have been old ground, but it was recovered by a master.
All that was left was to announce the winner and it was a pretty close race – champion storyteller Kevin Naughton got an honourable mention for his clever and convoluted cricket tale, but it was farmer John’s three-legged dog story that won the dosh. A bit patchy, and with more than a few loose threads, but all in all a fun night at the pub that could easily become a yearly event.
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