Puddles Pity Party | Melbourne International Comedy Festival review by Steve Bennett

Puddles Pity Party

Note: This review is from 2015

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review by Steve Bennett

Standing near 7ft high, with shaved head, impassive whiteface and white Pierrot outfit, Puddles looks more Batman villain than sentimental harlequin.

When he wordlessly pulls a victim from the audience, menace hangs heavy in the air; the chosen one placed on a chair like a hostage as the sinister clown moves slowly away… only to return with party hat, helium balloon and a hearty rendition of Happy Birthday.

Such playful interludes leaven the melancholic cabaret of Pity Party, otherwise a captivatingly atmospheric showcase for this Atlanta native’s powerful, plaintive baritone. Haunting songs such as Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, I (Who Have Nothing) and Lorde’s Royals, which made his name and won 11million YouTube views, are given a further shot of poignant melancholy. He also stamps his troubled personality on the likes of Dancing Queen, reinvented here almost as a tragedy.

Though his Pity Party is more cabaret than comedy, Puddles – Michael Geier to his mother – introduces several notes of humour, not least in his unrequited love song to Kevin Costner. And the look of hurt on his face to the traditional Aussie response to Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again, which he presents in all innocence, is priceless.

Staging is exquisite, with vintage movies or evocative artworks of Puddles’s face projected as a backdrop. His crowd work is uncomfortable but perfect, as he determinedly pushes through the rows like a bowling ball – and even the bar staff aren’t safe from his prowling.

He’s like a little boy lost, kicking out at the world through fear and awkwardness but eventually showing his vulnerabilities.From a bizarre and disconcerting start, Puddles enraptures the audience over an hour of classy, artful entertainment.

Review date: 6 Apr 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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