Steve Sheehan: After The Horse

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Australian comedy’s downbeat king of quirkiness serves up another quietly absurd hour of weird and sometimes wonderful comedy, which ambles hypnotically between the inspired and the melancholic.

Steve Sheehan – winner of the best comedy award at last year’s Adelaide Fringe – starts with some low-energy physical comedy, coyly approaching the microphone before returning with a horse’s head on to do… well, not much really. Some of the audience giggle, some sit bemused at this silent performance piece – but he eventually breaks the tension wonderfully.

The bulk of the 45-minute show involves him sitting behind his keyboard, playing gently soporific Bach or Liszt compositions as backing tracks to his shaggy-dog stories. Starting from such well-established joke premises as ‘So this horse walks into a bar…’ Sheehan extrapolates beyond the known punchline and into the parallel world of these characters.

Sometimes these yarns end in beautifully crafted pay-offs, making perfect sense of what surreal flights of fancy had gone before – his ‘why was 6 afraid of 7’ narrative is little short of beautiful – sometimes they just disintegrate into nothing.

The result is a strange, delicate and almost dream-like, comedy experience, where the laughs are wrapped in an otherworldly feeling, as if you absorbed the esoteric material while submersed in a relaxation pool.

His final set piece is a more traditional comic offering; suggesting misheard lyrics to an operatic aria. This is a little disappointing, as others have done it better – and Sheehan’s version goes on far too long. It’s a rare slip in his originality and his comic timing, but perhaps something for those wanting an identifiable routine in this otherwise mildly trippy experience.

Reviewed at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, April 2011

Review date: 9 Jan 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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