David Quirk: Cowboy Mouth | Review by Steve Bennett at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

David Quirk: Cowboy Mouth

Review by Steve Bennett at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

What could be worse than people telling you their dreams? How about someone telling you of dreams other people have had about them?

That’s the apparent premise of David Quirk’s show, and it is a bit odd, but thankfully nowhere near as nightmarishly self-indulgent as it sounds. Fans using social media to reveal how he appeared in their sleep provides only the odd taped linking segments between a series of otherwise disparate anecdotes that display his dry, offbeat wit and sometimes strange personality.

Certainly, there’s something not quite right in his head at this performance, as he doesn't seem very comfortable on stage at all, despite his superficially laid-back demeanour. He’s got someone in with a very loud and generous laugh, which seems to throw him off his rhythm, but he also takes a  walkout very personally, even though they make no fuss, and he completely sabotages a careful emotive build-up because he thinks someone looks restless in the second row. His material’s robust enough to withstand this, but the tension puts the audience on edge.

But then we already knew his mind isn’t quite right, thanks to him confessing to a disturbing encounter with a new neighbour who locked herself out, which Quirk definitely doesn’t emerge well from. I’d love to hear the story from her side – as, ironically, it would be the stuff to give her nightmares about the weirdo next door. With the benefit of hindsight and a sharp comic filter, however, the strangeness of his behaviour has made a great anecdote for Quirk, and he holds the audience in the palm of his hand when he tells it. 

There are also comparatively more conventional ‘what’s the deal with’ routines about not being able to speak to kids, being a vegan and recounting his encounter with a racist. Even these, though, are given an idiosyncratic, trippy twist that make them his own. A section on dog years, is especially adept, given the way he pivots it on a misunderstanding then repeats it with a twist.

As a show, Cowboy Mouth lacks a certain sense of purpose, but for peculiar stand-up storytelling, with vivid imagery, Quirk’s the dream ticket.

Review date: 21 Apr 2017
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