Charlie Lewin is being heralded as Australia’s “rising star of stand-up.” Fresh after winning the Best Newcomer award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2021, Lewin is bringing his brand of gender and genre-bending humour to his Midsumma Festival debut. 

“A big gay burst of fun, with sketch, songs and stand-up,” is how Lewin describes Cockatiel, his debut solo show. In a world full of black and white magpies, the show tells the tale of a kid from Melbourne, finding cockatiels are his flock. 

Catholic All-Boys School and Grindr Dates, Set to Original Foot-Tapping Songs

“I’m very proud of it, honestly. I’m so excited to finally bring Cockatiel to Midsumma for its long-awaited (and much postponed through lockdowns) encore in Melbourne,” says stand-up, sketch comic, podcaster and playwright Lewin. 

Cockatiel is a coming-of-age tale interspersed with stories about Catholic boys school and Grindr dates, set to original foot-tapping songs.

“It (growing up gay) was a bit of a process. I went to a very Catholic all-boys school and that was a real trial by fire. Finding my flock in the gay community was my saving grace,” says Lewin. 

According to Lewin, it was his discovery that he had a funny bone that helped him survive as a gay kid in a conservative environment. 

“I realised I was funny at high school. Theatre was my outlet and being quick-witted kept me from being picked on. I learned to find people’s funny bones pretty quickly.”

Comedy ‘A Universal Language’

“I have a strong theatre background so most of what I create comes through that filter. I love finding ways to mix contemporary stand-up with sketch, song, and stagecraft,” Lewin says about his creative process.

Comedy was also a medium to talk about difficult subjects. “[Comedy] is a universal language. And it can bring to light things that are otherwise hard to grapple with. I think that’s really magical,” says Lewin. 

The young comic is however clear about what comedy isn’t and that it isn’t a tool to target and stigmatise vulnerable people and communities. 

Ask him about comedian Dave Chapelle, who was recently criticised for transphobic jokes he made on his Netflix special, Lewin is emphatic that it has no place in the comedy world.

“To me that’s not comedy. I think good comedy bridges the gaps between people; it makes life a little brighter. It shouldn’t make life even bleaker,” says Lewin. 

His favourite comedians are “those who mix sincerity in with the sarcasm” like Tim Minchin, Lou Wall, Jude Perl. “Did I mention I love music theatre?” adds Lewin.

Comedy Republic – Melbourne CBD on 11–12 February at 7pm

Star Observer’s Midsumma fg (Festival Guide)

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