Hailing from Sydney, Sam McCool is a comedian whose specialty is character work. Having travelled the world extensively and becoming multilingual, Sam has used his wealth of experience to present the one man show Around The World In 80 Jokes.
After imbibing a pre show drink or two, a guitarist (Neil Aitken) playing flamenco appeared and led us to the cinema where the show was to take place. Taking the audience on a brief ‘Pied Piper’ trip before a longer journey with Sam was a nice touch.
The show began with a monologue by an Aboriginal Elder (played by Sam) who did a number of jokes at the expense of the White Fellas. We then saw the first of many filmed sequences which set up the shows’ main story, that of a young Indigenous fella’s journey to retrieve his humour (in the form of a ‘Funny Stick’).
The videos were mostly used as links for the live character segments. Through some clever camera trickery, Sam was able to portray multiple characters who interacted with one another. The route was all over the place and the moralistic conclusion was a little hokey, but Sam employed some great lateral thinking to move the story along, making it a fun tale littered with plenty of gags.
At each destination we witnessed a stand up spot by a character from that region. Despite a couple of blatant stereotypes in the filmed segments, the characters themselves were rarely the butt of the joke. Instead they were making jokes about foreigners’ attitudes towards them as well as having a gentle poke at their own culture.
Sam did a brilliant job in playing the majority of characters in the show, ducking behind a screen to change costume and emerging as someone else, nailing the majority of the accents. Not being a white anglo seemed to give the punters a sense that they could give him a little leeway in judging his portrayals, but the spirit in which they were presented was mostly harmless. The only annoyance I found was that all the characters started their set by asking how the audience was and expected a response each time. This was a nice way to set up a rapport and maintain the illusion that we had been transported to a different place but after the third time, it was a little tiresome for the punters.
A few musical numbers were inserted throughout which were clever parodies of songs not normally associated with the singer. For these Sam was accompanied by Neil who displayed a brilliant talent for many musical styles. Sam’s singing voice wasn’t particularly strong, further highlighted by trying to sing in an thick accent, but all the hilarious ideas were carried through.
This was an ambitious creation of character comedy which Sam pulled it off with ease and style. A wonderful theatrical/stand up hybrid.
For booking details visit the Comedy Festival website