Review: Olga Koch: If/Then at Monkey Barrel
3★★★

Olga Koch takes to the stage with an energy which is infectious and enduring. Her stories, which cover diverse subject matter – from growing up in Russia to The Wiggles and Bonnie, the first female pirate, are fun – almost enough to make up for an ending which falls a little flat.

Her set begins on a high; her introduction provided by an AI voice called ALGO who serves an enjoyable role as the straight man who fact checks at semi-regular intervals. A standout moment comes later in the show, sprung from an impression of Emma Watson on the set of Beauty and the Beast, which gets a lot of laughs.

Interactions with the audience were relatively few and very polite. In fact, given the audience was very much on her side, it’s hard not to think that Olga Koch could have been braver overall. Nerves seemed to play a part on a couple of occasions, but they needn’t have. The show was fully packed, the audience glad to escape the torrential weather outside, the atmosphere in the venue positive and warm. There was a strong mix of people in the room, none of whom seemed alienated by the peppering of jokes geared perhaps more towards a millennial age group. 

There are one or two clunky moments, including the ending which has quite an abrupt tonal shift and while the message you leave with is a good one, it certainly could have been reinforced or given more time. Nevertheless, it is clear that Olga Koch has a bright future in stand up – she’s very likeable and it helped by a rich and interesting background to draw from. 

Olga Koch: If/Then, Monkey Barrel Comedy, 1-25 Aug, 4.30pm

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