Lawrence Leung Learns To Breakdance

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Lawrence Leung has always revelled in his geekiness, striving for recognition that a talent for the Rubik’s Cube or Sudoku is as worthy of celebration as anything else.

But while banging that drum at previous festival shows, he has been secretly envious of those with cool kudos; and none more so that his older brother – a bass player who has a success with women and no-fret attitude that the nerdy, anal but nonetheless personable comedian cannot hope to match.

That is the fairly straightforward premise of this show: that Lawrence wants to match his brother in four key areas: fashion, girls, attitude and dancing and so emerge from his shadow. That he approaches the challenge so scientifically is perhaps evidence that he can never truly achieve cool, but it won’t stop him trying.

What follows is a form of ‘stunt comedy’, in which he tries to meet his goals; using seedy pick-up techniques to hit on women, for instance, and taking a camera on to the streets of Melbourne to record his success – or otherwise. The joke, of course, is almost always on him and his awkwardness.

Leung sets up his challenge with the skill of a festival veteran, easily persuading his audience to root for his success. The script is rich with self-depreciation and sly, unexpected jokes, making for plenty of laughs and a great spirit of fun. He has his cake and eats it too – half the audience will empathise will his chronic uncoolness, the other half are positively encouraged to laugh at it.

The endearing show advances through the challenges, culminating in the promised breakdancing. Leung and couple of mates made only perfunctory attempts to learn the discipline, yet still found themselves on stage in front of 2,000 people at Melbourne’s Federation Square, humiliating themselves very publicly. The result is a wonderfully engineered piece of car-crash footage, hilariously played out, and one of the best uses of video in a festival show,

Of course, dorks trying to act cool is always going to be funny – just look at all the unhip white comics who talk like rappers for a quick laugh - but Leung takes it further than this. ‘Breakdance’ is a show with real heart, an uplifting message and hilarious lines that come thick and fast. What could be cooler than that?

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melbourne, April 2007

Review date: 1 Apr 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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