One night, one venue, one room. So much easier than trying to Tetris in shows all over town. And every show being shriekingly brilliant didn’t hurt; I don’t apologise for my over use of “genius”.
The Tuxedo Cat in the city has established itself as the venue that welcomes artists who want to experiment far away from the dullness of stand up. Here is where you’ll see the work that no one else dares to try; work where artists trust that being their authentic self or finding that character who has been screaming to live is the only way to reach the hearts of your audience.
Luis loves cats. I love Luis. It’s that simple.
Inspired by Jerry Seinfield, in By Myself Luis tries his hand at more funny jokes and stand up. Little brother Luelin is crew and they do an early show so that they can get home on the train.
Being so experienced, Luis knows to mix up the observational humour with music and story. There are songs from his favourite cassette tape and a story about a dinosaur and a caterpillar (acted out by a plastic dinosaur and a caterpillar puppet that you’d never believe was once a sock), Luis dresses up in a brown-velvet striped fire cat costume he made himself (craft IS art), and we learn a bit more about Luis and Luelin’s mum (who isn’t with them anymore).
If the success of character comedy lies in believing the characters, then I suspect that my want to make the boys a tray of lasagne and sew up the holes in their jumpers means that it’s working. And I’m still a bit sad that I don’t have one of Luis’s cat badges.
To find the line where it’s ok to laugh ourselves sick as a struggling boy cries because his brother doesn’t care is as close to genius as it gets. The Lessons with Luis comedy is lame, but to enable us to laugh with and support it’s lameness is as sophisticated as serving a Vienetta on a silver platter for dessert.
Next was Dave. He’s unshaven, crude and makes pussy jokes that might confuse Luis and Luelin. I’m worried that he’ll scare the boys during their show crossover.
Hoping for Footy Show scouts and Wil Anderson to be in the audience of hipsters (can’t call them faggots anymore), Dave is used to 6-minute spurts at comedy holes and filling an hour isn’t as easy as he thought.
Dave is all the-fellas-know-what-I-mean and everything else that makes drunken pub stand up and a few festival shows something to be avoided.
He’s also Zoe Coombs Marr, who’s best known for her work with Post (feminist performance artists from Sydney). If Dave every saw a Post show, he’d… I have no idea what he would do because it’s beyond his understanding of the world. This is the guy who’d be pretty sure that Amelie is a lesso film because a girl he tired to chat up said it was her favourite.
The genius of Dave is that it’s far more than parody. It’s easy to make fun of men like this (and there are men like this) but the genius of this work is his winning of the audience’s love. Like Luis, Dave finds that line where there’s nothing we want more for Dave than for Wil Anderson to see his show, buy him a beer and invite him to support him on the next Wil he or Wil he not? tour.
Next, the room belongs to Dr Professor Neal Portenza and he Performs his Own Autopsy Live on Stage. One Night Only. (Obviously).
The Doc Prof says he’s an actor called Josh Ladgrove, but Josh can’t get in the way of the Dr Professor’s insane magnificence.
Dr Professor Neal likes ultra blue eyeshadow and a red lipstick to match his beret. His rhythmic gymnastics is exquisite (he uses the ribbon), his portraiture worthy of a discussion by Hannah Gadsby and his maths proves that he’s a 5-star show. (“5 blinding stars”, A-M, Aussie Theatre”.)
The audience play a huge part in the Dr Professor’s partly-improvised autopsy and even if you’re not chosen as a beautiful princess, there are plenty of opportunities to join in – and even the most hesitant will be clamouring for one of Gary’s pool noodles. I can’t tell you who Gary is.
This is clowning so original that it’ll re-ignite any lost passions for the madcap.