To stand out amongst the glut of comedians that descend upon Adelaide at Fringe time you not only have to be able to deliver jokes that guarantee regular belly laughs, but you also have to have that elusive star quality that only comes from the rare confluence of a magnetic stage presence, precise timing, well-chosen body language, quick wit, elastic facial expressions and a wealth of razor sharp comebacks readily on call to deal with any hecklers and interjectors.
If, on top of possessing all of these attributes, you also manage to engage audience empathy because your personality makes you naturally appealing and engaging, then you have a pretty secure foothold on the highest rungs of the comedy ladder.
Scottish comic, Larry Dean, is certainly right up there.
He commands his stage, arresting audience attention with his piercing, mischievous gaze, all the time delivering rapid-fire gags and poignant anecdotal vignettes about his life as a single gay man, constantly on the lookout for love and commitment.
Whilst there are some fairly visceral moments in his descriptions of his love life, they are not sensationalised and work well beyond shock value as integral parts of the life narrative he sets out to share with his audience.
He sends himself up mercilessly for being a sensitive love fool right from the opening sequence of jokes where he dances his way through a series of self-deprecating short gags about his latest break-up, set to the perkily ironic refrains of Billy Ocean’s Love Really Hurts Without You.
Dean is also a master of dialect and accent, and he can flip in a millisecond from his broad Scottish brogue into perfect approximations of the Irish accent (both Northern and Republic varieties), as well as British (upper class and provincial) and Australian (Superloop Adelaide bogan and, err, well…just standard bogan).
His expressive face, and his exaggerated body language, brings each gag and anecdote alive and he had the audience laughing enthusiastically for the entire sixty minutes.
He also exudes, like so many great comedians of the past, an underlying sadness which, whilst never drifting into maudlin self-pity, elicited sympathetic ‘awws’ of recognition from the crowd particularly when he related some of his more pitiful relationship failures and his subsequent experiences with his therapist.
A comedy master class, Larry Dean – Fudnut is a show definitely worth checking out.
By: Ken Grady
Rating: 4 1/2 stars
Larry Dean – Fudnut will be performed at Le Cascadeur in The Garden Of Unearthly Delights from Tuesday 3 March to Tuesday 10 March, and from Thursday 12 March to Sunday 15 March. All shows commence at 9:30pm.
Tickets are available here: Larry Dean