Suren Jayemanne: Eat Praline, Die | Melbourne International Comedy Festival review by Steve Bennett

Suren Jayemanne: Eat Praline, Die

Note: This review is from 2015

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review by Steve Bennett

Punning on the novel Eat, Pray, Love, the title of Suren Jayemanne’s solo debut tries hard, but doesn’t quite come off… which proves endemic of many of his routines.

He’s an engaging, likeable presence, and his writing is well-intentioned, which goes a long way. But routines often feel off-balanced, uncertain where the line of most funny lies, and so are stripped of their potential impact.

Prime example is putting the whole weight of a show onto his nut allergy which, he asserts, ‘plays a significant part in who I am’. That may be true, but is hard to buy entirely into, even if he does have the real, ‘might die from anaphylactic shock’ sort of allergy, not just the ‘rather not eat bread’ sort.

He’s also Sri Lankan, another formative factor of sorts, although he says that hasn’t defined him so strongly, since he feels like a middle-class white guy given his sheltered upbringing. Routines on the inherent privilege being white confers are nicely executed, and are the standouts of the show.

However as a child he says he wanted to be black, and when he talks about this, the jokes are more naive. It seems that even today, at 28, his idea of being black is confined to acting like a gangsta with jeans slung low on the hips and the mangled syntax of the rapper. You know, just like Obama and Maya Angelou. If the joke is on his own one-dimensional viewpoint, he doesn’t really make it – though his awkwardness around black people he considers cools is very real, and pretty funny.

Jayemanne certainly has a good way of conveying his lack of confidence in the real world, while seeming more in control on stage, But the tone of the show could be more varied without compromising the persona of good-natured but socially maladroit geek.

It takes a geek to write a pun, and he has a ready supply of these, ranging from the smart to the groansome, plus an astute observation on Gmail vs Hotmail that you’ll not hear anywhere else.

The upshot is a mixed bag, a reasonable first bash at doing an hour but not an instant breakthrough. But if he wants to sharpen his comedy instincts, he’s got to start somewhere.

Review date: 16 Apr 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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