Dan Willis, as so many of his comic contemporaries, is a journeyman performer. He has been performing stand-up for nearly two decades throughout the world, and is a comfortable stage performer, although much of the early part of his Adelaide Fringe routine seemed to be spent on establishing his bonafides a little too defensively.
Now based on the Gold Coast after some time living in Melbourne, this ex-pom has been living in Australia for seven years, and is proudly on the verge of gaining citizenship in his adopted land. This means he has been here long enough to have become enamoured with the Australian way of life and appreciate our collective worldview, but not long enough yet to have forgotten how his life once was when he used to inhabit that cold, crowded and eternally self-defeating land of the Brits with their odd idiosyncratic behaviours!
Willis’ show is fast-paced and he covers a lot of elements of Australian life along the way. Initially the content seemed a bit too reliant on old chestnuts such as our ‘colourful’ way with words, our ‘unique’ social customs and our multitudes of life-threatening insects, fauna and marine life. Willis does, however, explore these elements in this amiable comic ramble in unexpected ways, and delivers some original insights as a result.
The show does revolve around the use of some laminated posters, which gives the production an amateurish feel, and these visual aids were often hard to see as they became lost in reflective light. In a larger venue, I am sure these would have been projections where the sight issues would not have become apparent, but, in the intimacy of the upstairs room of the Belgian Beer Cafe, this element of the show was problematic.
It was interesting to note that a large percentage of those in attendance were ex-pat Poms, or British visitors in town for the Fringe, who had come along, it seemed, to have their own experiences of dislocation and disorientation validated, and Willis did not disappoint on this count. His show relies on a large degree of shared experience, and it is there, in the familiarity of the situations he describes, where his most successful comedy arises.
Willis’ show delivers a permanent smile to his audience’s faces, but it rarely induces any full-bodied guffaws. It is not an anarchic, or intimidating comedy show, as some comics seem to favour these days, but it delivers instead a rather gentle and polite form of comedy – and that is actually quite a refreshing thing.
By: Ken Grady
Rating: 3 stars
Australia – A Whinging Pom’s Guide is being performed upstairs at the Belgian Beer Cafe, 27/29 Ebenezer Place, Adelaide on the following dates: Friday 28 February – Sunday March 1; Friday 6 March – Monday 9 March; Friday 13 March – Sunday 15 March.
All performances commence at 5:00pm
Tickets available here: Australia – A Whinging Pom’s Guide