Dayne Rathbone

Dayne Rathbone

Runner-up in So You Think You're Funny 2011; winner of Raw Comedy at the Melbourne Comedy Festival 2011.
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Dayne Rathbone: It's Me Dayne

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

Dayne Rathbone is a difficult prospect for audiences. His creepily awkward anti-comedy makes them feel disorientated and uncomfortable... then he expects them to join him on stage and become accomplices in his weird world.

The success of the show lies in a large part in the hands of the patsies he draws from the audience – and if they are reluctant or nervous, both entirely reasonable reactions to his intimidating oddness – the set pieces stumble.

He starts off enjoyably strange; painting himself as a backward, shy and clumsy loner, accidentally brutal like a real-life antipodean Lennie Small. But when he first tries to engage the audience in an allegedly jaunty singalong, there’s an discomforting rebellion as no one wants to stand up, and he has to admonish us for trying to ruin the show, without breaking his deadpan.

The standoff damages the audience trust that we’re in safe hands. It’s unnerving as he prowls the rows. Usually such participation works because of the relief if’s not you that’s been chosen... here there’s still the dread that you might be. Some nervous laughs come as an instinct; an attempt to diffuse the tension of his unpredictable, unreadable persona. There’s little else in the human emotional vocabulary that offers a suitable reaction to this.

His game show works better, with some ‘accidentally’ offensive lines coming from his choice of team names – though again the interactions are stilted, and the joke repeated just a bit too often.

Some moments are closer to being straightforwardly, if quirkily, funny such as the odd song he sings at the start; the first few pages of his uncompromisingly inappropriate children’s book, A Boy And His Dad. This builds, or descends, into the big-payoff set piece, which involves either embarrassing his audience volunteers or getting laughs from the gusto with which they join in. And it all climaxes with a cheap, if bold, visual image that time has proven is guaranteed to bring the house down.

It’s Dayne is not quite a love-it-or-hate-it experience (on reflection ‘show’ seems to formal a word for this measured madness) he probably sought – even though there will be plenty who fall into both camps. But most will witness something disturbing and odd, and not be sure quite how to react. Only you will know if that’s what you want from your entertainment choice.

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Published: 8 Apr 2013

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