Dave Bloustien has a comedy CV that is the envy of many. He’s written for the Glass House, Good News Week, The Sideshow and the new reconstituted Good News Week. Performing “Beastly”, his 50 minute show is an entirely different gig. It’s part travelogue, part polemic and an intelligent way to pass the time. But that’s what it felt like, chewing the fat, passing the time-where the artifice of the relationship between comic and audience was never quite transcended by the jokes. The relationship Dave developed with his audience was intimate, folksy even, but very safe. Safe for Dave, safe for his audience. It raised the question - can the back room writer, whose CV is testament to his comic prowess, find the edge in performance?
“Beastly” is a pastiche of ideas loosely held together by an Africa travelogue. Dave is smart, warm and appealing. He’s a generous comic - he takes the blame if the audience doesn’t find a punch line particularly funny and his self depreciating style is engaging. His brain power is evident and he conveys the sense that he could bullshit his way out of a paper bag. His jokes are laden with political inference without being bombastic and he is at his funniest when he is observing human reactions. However, his jokes for the most part elicit an intellectual response, rather than a gut reaction.
The problem was that Dave didn’t really put it all on the line. He played it safe, using his formidable intellect to bounce around the inside of his head. At crucial moments he pulled back, where to go further, be uglier and ruder in performance would have challenged his soporific audience. His series of jokes about religion are a case in point-his throwaway line about the Catholic Church, his spoof on Jehovah’s witnesses, even his bleak holocaust joke all whetted the appetite but failed to deliver the full belly laugh. Take this show to Edinburgh, Dave, but be big and be brave.
Venue: Old Fitzroy Hotel, 129 Dowling St, Woolloomooloo
Dates: 28 – 31 May 2008
Tickets: $15 ($20 for show, beer & laksa meal deal)
Times: start time 9.30pm
Bookings: Moshtix, www.moshtix.com or at the door