The Bedroom Philosopher: Wit-Bix

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Justin Heazlewood’s comic alter-ego has provided some great festival moments over the years, from his charmingly bonkers debut to the sublime Songs From The 86 Tram – but this year’s offering is a more slapdash affair, throwing skits, songs and stand-up against the wall in an attempt to see what sticks.

For me, at least, very little did. Although the show wasn’t without moments of offbeat genius, as a whole it was too scrappy to get a purchase.

He is, perhaps, starting to believe his own hype about being an hero of comedy’s more indie edge, and set out his stall from the get-go; proselytizing about the beery, blokey comedy that’s the antithesis of everything he stands for.

Ironically, though, his complaints about unadventurous comedy and the Zoo magazine culture seem rather tired themselves – and he doesn’t really have the authority to rag on other comedians. Meanwhile he inadvertently offers plenty of evidence to support the opposing view that alternative comedy is artsy pretension… although, confoundingly, he also does routines such as being bad at sex or comparing Australian cities to High School archetypes – Melbourne the geek, Sydney the jock and so forth – that wouldn’t be out of place in the mainstream.

Yet when he mimes being a cat in his litter tray, any resistance to the BP fades away in a moment of pure, wonderfully realised silliness. Likewise his commercially unviable six-piece backing band, the beautifully named Awkwardstra – open with a spot-on pastiche of every musical genre you can think of.

His reduction of Australia’s Funniest Home Videos to the most perfunctory description of each clip could have been good – but, presumably he’s unaware that fellow festival participant Paul Foot beat him to it with a much more intense version about the British equivalent a few years back.

For someone who bills himself as a Philosopher, even tongue-in-cheek, it’s the segments where he tries to give his comedy some meaning that most misfire; a segment about the treatment of aboriginals made the audience shift uncomfortably – as well they might – but without a strong enough payoff.

Overall, this is a real lucky dip of a show. Thrust your hand in, and if you’re lucky you’ll be rewarded with a comic treasure… though you might just end up with a fistful of sawdust instead.

Reviewed at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, April 2011

Review date: 1 Jan 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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