Words & performers’ photos by Fatema Sitabkhan
Have you ever asked yourself, “Who is the best superhero out there?”
If you are a fan of superheroes and villains, froth over the smell of freshly printed comics, or have a favourite comic book character … a superhero … who you look up to, then you’re in for a treat with Battle Of The Superheroes: The Great Superhero Debate – an Adelaide Fringe show that has returned for another year of geeky frolicking and entertainment.
Presented by Laughing Panda Productions & Laughing Horse Comedy and hosted by UK-based comedian Nik Coppin, this team of international comedians brings with it the experience of performing at Perth’s Fringe World and the Melbourne Comedy Festival, after catapulting to success in the UK. The concept of this show is simply put – ingenious. It allows new, upcoming, and well-versed comedians from around the festivals to showcase and polish their skills in this seemingly easy but incredibly challenging profession of being a stand-up comedian.
Performing on the Adelaide Fringe opening weekend can be quite a tricky one, because it is often packed with a bunch of other events. While the venue has been booked out to hold a capacity of 24 people, we went to a show that attracted around 12. But, the comedians made this setback work to their advantage. It made the show all the more intimate, fun, and enjoyable.
While not necessary, it is highly recommended that you brush up on your knowledge around the topic of superheroes – be it from the Marvel universe or the DC universe. The nature of this show involves a lot of interactions through debate, suggestions, and questions. Mild levels of heckling (which may be done in a classy manner) helps the superhero build (or shatter) their case. So, to answer the question that’s on everyone’s mind, “who is the greatest superhero of them all”? We were presented with some pretty strong arguments from our three ‘superheroes’:
- The Flash (represented by Matt Price)
- Iron Man (represented by Andrew Tubman)
- Batman (represented by Christian Elderfield)
Not giving too much away, each ‘superhero’ presented the audience with around 5 minutes of compelling evidence in the forms of fact as well as popular opinion to make their superhero “the chosen one”. While one used his personal flair and appreciation for his character, another stated pop-culture facts on his superhero. But, my personal favourite was the one who ended up roasting the character through a cleverly crafted, improvised free-hand script. After all, isn’t that an attractive quality of any individual – having a good sense of humor?
After the ‘superheroes’ used their ethos, logos, and pathos to make their character as appealing to the audience as they possibly could, Nik jumped back on stage to invite questions from the audience. This is where you can ask a matter-of-factly themed one, or go all-out, crazy, and weird by asking something unusual. Make sure you actively listen to the arguments put forth by each ‘superhero’ – you could easily find some material there and challenge something that you may disagree with. Friendly competition is always a great source of entertainment, plus it activates the mind to think outside the box:
- “If all the superheroes were wearing their suits and entered a bar, who would be the most likely to [pick up]?”
- “What song would your hero sing at a Karaoke bar?”
- “Who do you think your hero would most get along with from the opposite universe?”
Can’t think of a question? Maybe make a comment or a statement. You’re also likely to get some help from Nik himself, although originality and creativity may win you one of their custom enamel pins. Trivia-style questions are also asked, which is where your base knowledge on the different superheroes may come in handy!
While I was unsure of the show at the beginning (due to my limited knowledge around the superhero universe), I was certainly impressed towards the end of the show. The audience and performers warmed up to one another rather quickly, which made the poking fun at (as well as being poked fun at) a lot less embarrassing and a lot more fun-filled. There was an elevated level of enthusiasm and interaction and it eventually felt like we had grown closer together as a community of superhero (and villain) lovers.
It can be a hit and miss when it comes to roping in a different team of comedians each night, but on this occasion, this dysfunctional group seemed to work just right. Sure, there were some moments of awkward silence, but that’s where the guys did really well. They handled our questions and heckles with integrity, and we give kudos to them for the effort that they put in, especially for attempting to put together their content with just under 2 hours of prep time.
As one who doesn’t know a whole lot regarding the background of the superheroes in focus, I felt like there was a new-found appreciation for each of the superheroes in their own way. This show is, undoubtedly, an underrated show that deserves a viewing while they’re in the land down under!
Battle Of The Superheroes – The Great Superhero Debate