Review: On the Origin of Faeces

22 May 2021

Science comedian Alanta Colley’s “On the Origin of Faeces” is a joyous reflection on her relationship with poo, a wonderful evening of refreshing but somehow never crass comedy.  A handbell signalled the start of the show as we took our seats in the cosy theatre of  Melbourne’s famous Butterfly Club. As this was my first time at a comedy show, I appreciated the theatre’s intimate seating, as well as the opportunity to ease back into an enclosed, mask-off, social gathering with a smaller group of people.

The lights went dimmed and then Colley emerged from behind the curtain to start her performance. Her  friendly and articulate demeanour immediately captures your attention and makes you want to listen to her. Something about the atmosphere of a comedy show makes you believe you need to have your chuckles and guffaws at the ready, and that they need to be delivered generously and raucously. But any chuckles that Colley enticed from the audience were genuine, and I also soon found myself having a genuinely good time.

So as not to spoil the content of the show, I will divulge the following highlights with little to no context: faecal transplants, waffle stomps, cloaca maxima, and an unexpectedly intimate encounter time with a local mother in Uganda behind a tour bus. 

The show started with the ‘science’  aspect  of science comedy, taking me back to my undergrad days of studying microbiology. Faecal transplants are a real thing and there does seem to be remarkable potential for them as a treatment for a variety of conditions. Are faecal transplants a joke? No. But everything in the show that followed? Yes. As for the good ol’ waffle stomp, I believe anyone with a reddit account would be familiar with them. Males of any age who had an unsavoury boys’ school education would be equally familiar. 

However,  as a science kid, I never studied history. This means I really appreciate learning funny historicaly titbits, so cloaca maxima and the sewer demons rated highly for me. Bring cloaca maxima into the everyday vernacular as an insult, everyone. Please and thank you. 

The scorpion story is Colley’s pièce de résistance and I believe it deserved every laugh it got. None of that puff-of-air-from-the-nose-as-you-type-lmao-on-the-internet business for this one. The scorpion story and the Ugandan bus story took place during a stint Colley did working in Uganda for a public health organization. Just goes to show that if volunteering for the good of humanity doesn’t appeal to you, do it for the comedic fodder. comedy material. 

Alanta Colley’s “On the Origin of Faeces” was a wonderful first look into the world of stand-up comedy,  and it was amazing to see someone bring maturity and humour to something that is usually viewed with disgust. Colley’s honest and earnest nature is captivating and she is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. I would love to see another one of her shows in the future.


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