Tessa Waters has a bubbly stage persona in A Little Bit of Standing Up and A Little Bit of Falling Down, a show intended to be about happiness, particularly through a child’s eyes.
There is focus on her enjoyment of dancing, from her experiences as a child at a dance school in Warwick, country Queensland, through to dancing in later years. While the dance school section had some promise, and Waters employed costume changes and enthusiastically performed dance moves in various parts of the show, I found the performance fragmented and unable to get above the odd flash of mildly amusing.
A large part of the problem here is that the jokes weren’t very clever. For example, at one point Waters said she’d like to demonstrate a new experimental arty dance theatre piece. In what followed, Waters emerged in a costume with ART in gold sequins on her backside and started shaking her rear. This already lame attempt at humour got a brief initial laugh, but the booty shaking just kept going for far too long, and didn’t build to anything. I found this goofiness more than a bit insulting. Silliness can be funny, but it takes work and surprise, and both were lacking here. Another liability was the sentimental tale at the end, offering a strange, weak conclusion to a comedy show.
My interest in the show wasn’t helped by obscured viewing for the back half of the audience in this room at the Tuxedo Cat. Oppressively warm, crowded and stuffy, its main purpose seems to be creating sympathy for Australia’s live export animals.
While enthusiasm or gimmicks in a show can be good, this show proves that they are not a substitute for quality writing.