Mark Maier Objects

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

Somewhat overlooked on the word-of-mouth grapevine this festival, experienced comic Mark Maier has created a quietly charming hour in the deeper recesses of the Underbelly.

Objects is based on the simple concept of what inanimate items would say if they could talk. It's fairly common comedic device stand-ups use to enliven their set, but, perhaps surprisingly, no one's thought to create an entire show around it until now.

For Maier, it might have been a more obvious route to take since he like to talk to such objects himself, whether it's pleading with his car not to break down or appealing for his keys to show themselves so he can leave the house. This, then, his imaginings of what it would be like if they reciprocated.

But there's more to it than that, as Maier adds structure to the basic idea by recounting sentimental stories from his childhood. A hyperactive boy, his father called him "fat baby on the rampage", he was both a tearaway who struggled academically and a hopeless, awkward romantic who made cack-handed attempts to woo an older girl.

After Maier completes each anecdote, he then switches point of view to one of the items mentioned in it ­ from a crumpled old sock to his pet dog. Each is a delightful, individual creation with perceptively apt accents and mannerisms; from the felt-tip pens that sound like something from The Sopranos to a single grain of sand who projects in pretentious, actorly tones.

Maier proves himself quite the character actor, making these frankly ridiculous flights of fancy seem perfectly believable through precise, nuanced performances. His portrayal of a match whose friends have all died following horrific burns accidents, for instance, manages to be touching and poignant ­ which is some achievement when you remember it's just a match.

It's a warmly funny piece, too, driven by these well thought-out creations rather than the quest for the next punchline. There's a fun, uplifting showstopper to send you out with a spring in your step, but the joy of Objects is in the subtle observation, rather than the big gesture, and it's the better for it.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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