The first thing you notice about Canadian DeAnne Smith is that she’s smart. It’s a neurotic, brainy intelligence which translates to challenging and distinctly original comedy. In the opening moments of her new show, About Freakin’ Time, Smith says she hopes we all have a good time, then immediately deconstructs the word ‘time’ in a pedantic, elongated definition. Instantly, somehow, we – she and her brand new audience – are all on the same page. It’s a skilful trick that lets the audience know they are in clever hands. The gags that follow – on topics as wide ranging as two year olds (like small, drunken homeless people), baby sitting, racist Australia, lesbian sex, her long suffering girlfriend, American bumper stickers and religion are all interspersed by a generous helping of self depreciation. None of this would be particularly funny without the fact that Smith simply has wonderful timing. Many topics that seem pedestrian are enhanced by this innate ability to slow down delivery and give an audience time to work on the punch line for themselves. Much of her humour is achieved through deconstructing how the last joke just went, a self-referential parodying which draws us into her funny, anxious worldview.
It’s definitely a charm offensive yet Smith doesn’t pull punches. Her foray into Australian racism is a case in point. With a cute smile and deceptively warm tone, she invites the unsuspecting Sydney audience to play a version of ‘I say tomarto, you say tomato – we say First Nations Peoples, you say…?’ A silence falls: ‘ Abo’s!’ she booms triumphantly into the mic. A comment about how the audience reacted to the joke follows.
Smith's comedy is a world view not a just set of jokes, a fact amply demonstrated by her wonderful ability to engage a whole audience as well as individual members, giving the sense that the show is a jointly created experience. Having recently been nominated for the Melbourne Comedy Festival Barry award, you’d have to say Smith is currently near the top of her game. No longer quirky best newcomer, now a richly rewarding and mature comedic talent.
2011 Sydney Comedy Festival
About Freakin' Time
Venue: Downstairs Theatre, Seymour Centre
Dates/Times: 9pm, Wed 4 – Sat 7 May, 2011
Tickets: Adult $26, Conc $22
Bookings: 02 9351740 | 132 849