Sydney Festival: It's one crack after another when the List Operators for Kids do Compooters

11 January 2012

The List Operators for Kids have been called the Lano and Woodley for under-12s.
The List Operators for Kids have been called the Lano and Woodley for under-12s.

My seven-year-old date's favourite part of the show The List Operators for Kids do Compooters was the character Matt, wearing brown-streaked underpants over a green suit, demonstrating the heritage Atari computer game Pong with two audience volunteers.

Herein lies the success of this show at the University of Sydney's Seymour Centre: the kids, soaked from their earliest years in South Park-style gross-out humour and Andy Griffiths-style books featuring exploding bums going psycho had plenty to hoot about. In fact, the poo jokes were so relentless a truckload of Imodium wouldn't have stopped them.

At the same time the show's numerous nods and winks to more adult themes - including a running homoerotic gag involving Twilight's Robert Pattison - means parents and grandparents, many of whom were kids in a lower-tech time when Wii was Pong, are not left out. (And let's face it the - er - grown-ups were guffawing at the scatological pranks too.)

Parents on the school holiday frontlines could also easily relate to the relationship between the two performers - the child-like Matt and parent-figure Rich (fans of the ABC show Outnumbered would immediately guess who has the upper hand in that dynamic).

The List Operators for Kids do Compooters arrived at the Sydney Festival with a couple of gold stickers already decorating its exercise book - it was nominated for Best Show at the 2010 Melbourne Comedy Festival and named Best Kids Comedy at Edinburgh Fringe by BBC Scotland.

They have been called the Toy Story of the comedy stage and the Lano and Woodley of the under-12 set, and the comparisons aren't undeserved. The smaller bottoms on the theatre's seats might have found the nose-picking gags and toilet humour hilarious, but they were also clued in to the clever word plays and visual puns that kept on coming - a merino sheep called Justin Biebaa, a globe of the earth wearing goggles (that's Goggle Earth to you) and a primer on the video game the World of Woolcraft.

The performers match their youthful audience's high energy with a pace that only gathers speed as the show progresses. The finale involves an alien invasion of the stage that turns into one big pillow fight, and a tribute to Singin' in the Rain that morphs into a water pistol fight.

The seven-year-old's verdict? "It was really, really, really funny. The performers were really good and there were so many poo jokes: 9/10."

The List Operators for Kids do Compooters runs until 13 January at the Seymour Centre, and from 17 and 21 January at the Riverside Theatres Parramatta.

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