The Wine Bluffs

Fellow comedian Paul Calleja approached Damian about dabbling in wine based comedy at the Yarra Valley Grape Grazing in 2014. However after opening the good stuff, the one off venture soon turned into one of the most commercially and critically acclaimed shows of Callinan’s catalogue. From the outset, ‘The Wine Bluffs’ soon found their unique blend of comedy [85%] and wine [15%] was in high demand. From initially only uncorking the show at cellar doors, the duo soon found themselves in demand on the corporate circuit where they added their distinctive tailored material to the mix. ‘The Wine Bluffs’ is now one of those rare shows that you can pair with anything.

The show travels well and continues to be a hit at wine & food festivals such as Borossa Vintage [SA] & Beauvine [WA] but it’s the arts festivals market that ‘The Wine Bluffs’ has proved to be a trophy winner. They’ve achieved Gold Medal sell out seasons at Melbourne Fringe [2015], Adelaide Fringe [2016/ 2017] Perth Fringe [2017] Melbourne Comedy Festival [2017] & Brisbane Powerhouse [2017].

In 2018 the stelven cap will be unscrewed for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Stirling Fringe, Tamworth Taste Festival and one offs in such far flung locales as Dubbo & Toowoomba with a full tilt 2019 national tour currently maturing in French Oak.

Laying spurious claim to a reputation as renowned wine consultants, the duo, fresh from judging the Fruit Wine Section at The Rockhampton Show, take the audience through the cellar door experience with a comedic twist.

They’ll help you match wine to beer, translate over-written bottle blurbs and identify the biggest Wine Wanker in the room: If you have a wine fridge set on two temperatures it’s probably you.
Over the highly interactive hour Damo will teach you how to read a wine aura and Paul will show off his renowned skills of pairing food to wine. Does New Zealand Sav Blanc really go best with a Rainbow Paddle Pop or is that just a waste of a good Paddle Pop?

Once they feel you are ready to graduate from the ‘Wine Bluffs Wine Academy of Wine’ they will let you test your new-found skills on a ‘Virtual Wine Bus Tour’ you’ll never forget.

2014 – Yarra Valley Grape Grazing Festival @ Maddens Rise
2014 – Specialised Therapeutics Coprpate Event @ Crown Casino
2015 – Melbourne Fringe Festival @ North Melbourne Arts House
2015 – Barossa Feast Festival @ Murray Street
2016 – Adelaide Fringe Festival @ Royal Croquet Club
2016 – Sterling Fringe Festival
2016 – Maddocks Partners Corporate Event @ Byron on Byron
2016 – Australian Tax Instutute Corporate Event @ Barossa Novatel
2016 – Perth Beauvine Festival
2016 – Big Cohuna Festival
2017 – Perth Fringeworld @ Noodle Palace
2017 – Adelaide Fringe Festival @ Royal Croquet Club
2017 – Wine Bluff’s Bus Tour – Barossa Valley
2017 – Melbourne Comedy Festival @ Malthouse Theatre
2017 – Kerang Resort
2017 – Brisbane Powerhouse
2018 – Stirling Fringe
2018 – Tamworth Taste Festival
2018 – Dubbo Arts Centre
2018 – Adelaide Caberet Festival
2018 – Elysium Theatre @ Sandgate Town Hall
2018 – Lighthouse Theatre 2019 Season Launch
2019 – Hobart Speigeltent
2019 – RAV Tour – NSW & Victoria
2019 – Lorne Festival of Performing Arts

Marty Powell – Brand Ambassador @ Murray Street Vineyards

Events: The Wine Bluffs @ Barossa Vintage Festival

How often do you get to describe someone as professional and fun? The Wine Bluffs, Damian Callinan and Paul Calleja are just that and more! Murray Street Vineyards played host to this dynamic duo as part of our 2015 Barossa Vintage Festival celebrations, where their candid style of humour was perfectly matched to their wine-loving audience. An audience who would emphatically join me in recommending The Wine Bluffs performance, as they help you celebrate the wonderful world of wine.

Bozena Zembrzuski – director human resources and administration @ specialised Therapeutics Australia PTY LTD

Event: Specialised Therapeutics Christmas Lunch @ Crown Casino

Just a short note to thank you Damian and Paul for providing such great entertainment for our staff christmas lunch. The feedback we got from staff was all so positive. They loved the way you involved the audience and we could all see you guys were having as much fun as we were. We were racking our brains as to what we could do that our varied group ( admin, sales, marketing, managers and CEO) would all respond to and enjoy and that’s why I think the ‘Wine Bluffs’ concept was perfect – didn’t really matter whether you liked or knew anything about wine actually.

Simon Plant – Herald Sun – 4.5 stars

‘Wildly funny wine speak … Dont’ set this one aside. The Wine Bluffs is for drinking, er…laughing now

Don’t let the wine judge rosettes deceive you.

Damian Callinan and Paul Calleja are not sommeliers. The pair know as much about fermented skins, barrel age and tannins as the rest of us, which is not much. But, boy, can they spit out the bull…!

The Wine Bluffs is 65 minutes of wildly funny winespeak, a romp around the vineyard that seeks to demystify the cellar door experience and only leaves us feeling more confused.

Callinan and Calleja swirl around like grapes in a vat, reading wine auras (”Bit of Bundoora there, just a whisper of Northcote”) and doing wine match ups (Chiko Rolls and Moselle, anyone?).

Political wines get an airing — I especially liked the Pauline Hanson red which goes off if it comes near anything foreign — but The Wine Bluffs really hits its stride when the audience gets its hands dirty. Be warned: if you own a two temperature fridge, you might not want to put your hand up.

Don’t set this one aside. The Wine Bluffs is for drinking, er…laughing now.

Arts Hub – Patricia Maunder – 4 stars

Melbourne Comedy Festival

‘An irreverent yet clever show … When the hour was up I was genuinely surprised. Time flies when you’re having fun’

Damian Callinan and Paul Calleja have hit on a winning formula with The Wine Bluffs, a stand-up show that lovingly lampoons wine snobbery. These veteran Melbourne comedians have a ready-made audience in anyone who likes a glass or three, though that rare person who doesn’t will also enjoy laughing at the obsessions of oenologists – or wine wankers, as they are described in this irreverent yet clever show.

Callinan and Calleja, who plays the slightly straight guy, are smooth operators who hand each other gags and keep the show moving along at a brisk pace. With glass of wine in hand, they seamlessly segued from one segment to the next, like a morning TV program, but much cheekier, and with a considerably more humble set (essentially two wine barrels; those bottles they filled their glasses from had to sit somewhere).

Their demonstration of swirling wine in the glass became increasingly ostentatious. Calleja gave food-matching advice to audience members who called out wine varieties, offering suggestions such as fairy bread or Chicko rolls (easy laughs that were all in the delivery). Here and there, they threw in tales from their dubious background in the wine industry, including judging the fruit-wine section of the Rockhamption Show and owning a vineyard in the Northern Territory’s Central Desert region.

One of the most enjoyable segments was the search for the biggest wine wanker in the audience. Everyone was invited to stand up, until nearly all were back in their seats, eliminated by criteria such as having cask wine at home, or lacking different glasses for white and red wine. The winner was very unscientifically determined by the quality of their wine storage.

Gentle audience participation throughout was a key to the show’s success, as Callinan and Calleja quickly built up a sense of being part of a tribe. There was plenty of us-and-them humour, from jokes about other cities they had taken The Wine Bluffs, to observations about how wine wankerism has infiltrated some unlikely places.

Almost everything worked well: only Callinan sensing people’s ‘wine auras’ didn’t quite come off, but he made up for it with a surprising finale, demonstrating how a shoe will save the day if you don’t have a corkscrew handy. When the hour was up I was genuinely surprised. Time flies when you’re having fun.

Liam Mannix – 4 stars

‘It’s funny & silly and good if you’re in on the joke … a ripping show’

Sometimes the best jokes are the ones you crack at your own expense – or let someone crack for you.

The Wine Bluffs holds a mirror up to the hobby of high-end wine appreciation so its practitioners can appreciate just how ridiculous it is.

Damian Callinan and Paul Calleja’s ripping show is drawing a niche audience to the Coopers Malthouse.

It’s not Wil Anderson-style wit, and some of it is designed more for groans than laughs, but it’s funny and silly and good watching if you’re in on the joke. This is definitely not a show for non-wine-types.

Perhaps the funniest moment came during an audience quiz to find the biggest wine wanker of all. At least five members of the crowd had multiple wine fridges, with one gentleman – the winner – storing his claret in an “offsite storage facility”.

The West Australian – Craig McGeogh – 4 stars

Perth Fringeworld

‘The pair are a great match & have the comic smarts to turn it into an hour of vintage entertainment’

The wine industry is well and truly ripe for the picking (geddit?) for satirical treatment in a Fringe show.

So, these two masters of wine step up to the tasting table and sniff, swirl and spit their way through 60 minutes of filtering (groan!) through the pretension and artifice.

Damian Callinan and Paul Calleja combine to form the Wine Bluffs. And while they are clearly full bottles (really?) on wine and the wine industry and are able to home in on its inherent flaws and foolishness, they also have the comic smarts to turn it into an hour of vintage (hmmm?) entertainment.

Callinan and Calleja arrive in Perth direct from the Rockhampton Show, where they apparently judged the fruit wine section. They also claim to have experience in viticulture with their Central Australian set-up Chateau Outback, so their credentials are impeccable.

Their task is to educate the audience in the finer points of wine appreciation, and show off a few tricks along the way. Callinan reads wine “auras” and Calleja is a master of food and wine matching (champagne with banana-flavoured Paddle Pops and Kiwi sauvignon blanc with fairy bread, anyone?)

We also get to go on a wine bus tour and learn a bit of cellar door etiquette. (No orgasmic behaviour in the cellar, please.)

It’s all great fun, and it’s not necessary to be a wine buff to appreciate it, though a bit of wine snobbery might help you earn the title of Wine Wanker for the night and a T-shirt to prove it. And there’s a good chance you’ll be judged (stop!) in some way for your tastes.

Callinan is a veteran of the comedy circuit on screen and stage, and has strong Fringe World form, especially with his one-man tour de force from last year, The Merger, while Calleja is an experienced comedy writer and stand-up performer.

The pair are a great match (enough now!), though Calleja usually plays the straight man to the more flamboyant Callinan, who thrives on the opportunity to show off his character acting talents.

Speaking of talents, Callinan’s party trick in removing a cork from a bottle with little more than a shoe and a hard surface is a show-stopper, even if it doesn’t always work.