By JC Clapham

    If laughter really is the best medicine, then Newport must be the healthiest and happiest part in the West. Local producer/performer/published author and creative soul, Stella Kinsella, has been working with the Newport Bowls Club for a couple of years to put on a regular night of top-notch comedians and storytellers.

    On Friday 11 August, The Westsider was part of a heaving room of 170 people to see the latest edition of ‘Stellavision’, a live variety event with big name comedians: Tony Martin as headliner, and RRR Breakfaster co-host Geraldine Hickey as support act. Though that term probably downplays Hickey’s hilarity and ability; she was a star in her own right.

    Stella warmed up the crowd as our charming MC with a riff on Coles’ amusing irony in trying (pathetically) to phase out plastic bags, while at the same time becoming a ‘dealer’ of miniature products made entirely of plastic.

    Geraldine Hickey (3RRRFM, MICF Gala, ABC) walked on with her trademark glass of white wine, a signal to twenty minutes of intelligent and hilariously-dry storytelling. With bits on family discussions about politics, sober people at parties, the perils of eating a pie at the footy, and a clever take on the positives of huntsman spiders, I’m genuinely surprised there wasn’t a noise complaint from the guttural laughter she generated.

    After a short break, Stella got political with a new bit she’d written about the dystopian world of The Handmaid’s Tale and its similarities to Cricket Australia. It worked well and her character ‘Offwhite’ deserves more outings.

    And then one of the country’s favourite Kiwi-born Australians took to the stage. Tony Martin, star of radio, TV, movies and comedy stages for decades now and didn’t disappoint.

    Martin opened with a withering critique of a bargain-bin Michael Douglas biography that was riddled with mistakes and a cover endorsement of “readable”. A published author himself, Martin knows that’s kind of important! He went on to share hilarious anecdotes about enterprising people in St Kilda, bank teller queues, and the video store/candle emporium near his house.

    There wasn’t a single stool or seat left anywhere in the Bowlo and it was one of the best comedy nights in Melbourne this columnist (and comedy fanboy) has been to for a while.

    It’s definitely a night to get to if you haven’t yet been, and one to go back to again and again.

    Speaking a few days later, Stella says the Newport Bowls Club are fantastic supporters of live entertainment in the West. As well as the Newport Comedy Room, which runs every six-to-eight weeks or so, they also support live music and the folk festival.

    “Irene, Stuart and Scotty are great to work with and really want to help bring live entertainment to the West for our community to enjoy”, she said.

    “They entrusted me a couple of years ago to establish the Bowlo as a venue during the Melbourne Comedy Festival, and have been terrific supporters while we built the Newport Comedy Room into a place that big-name comedians want to perform at, and we’re so grateful to them.”

    Stella has plans for a live podcast series in 2019, as well as continuing to bring high-profile and emerging comedians to the area.

    “The headlining comics around the country know Newport loves comedy, and it’s also a great opportunity to showcase the really funny and clever women in comedy. There are plenty of them despite the misconception people sometimes have.”

    The granddaughter of a Newport Rail Yards worker is heavily invested in building up the suburb and area into a thriving creative hub, and says Hobson’s Bay Council have been strong supporters of the arts through the WillyLitFest and a series of workshops for creative individuals.

    “We live in a really great area, here. There’s a strong community of people who work in all streams of the creative arts, and the Newport Comedy Room has shown residents enjoy seeing clever and entertaining people do their thing.

    I love this part of town and don’t know why people would want to live anywhere else.”

    Amen to that.

    Hung Le & Rod Quantock: Rubber Chicken Soup.

    Polar opposites, best of mates, the living treasure and the crappiest refugee:
    Newport Bowls Club
    Friday 14 September 2018, 8:00pm

    Tickets available at

    Disclosure: The Westsider was invited to the August event as a guest of Stellavision.
    The photos:
    A huge double-act of Hung Le and Rod Quantock in September.
    Stella Kinsella, producer of the Newport Comedy Room.

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