Lessons With Luis | Melbourne comedy festival review by Steve Bennett

Lessons With Luis

Melbourne comedy festival review by Steve Bennett

Guileless and awkward in his daggy knitwear, Luis Brown makes for an endearingly optimistic naif: a home-grown Aussie version of Andy Kaufman’s Foreign Man taking the talent he believes he has out of his bedroom and into the real world.

However, his latest, supposedly educational, show has little sense of purpose, serving up a series of deliberately limp exercises with returns that diminish as his charm depletes.

Home schooled and insular, the feeble cat-lover aims to pass on his  limited experience of the world in what’s described as ‘like a Ted Talk but with more confetti’. He’s been busy recording lessons on VHS – some of which feature his equally stilted father Len or blocky 1980s-style computer graphics – to play out on his tiny, far-from-flat screen. 

Meanwhile other alleged knowledge is dispensed by a series of barely realised characters, from a useless magician to a swaggerless cowboy. Spreading the message that ‘kindness is good’, he warns of the dangers of acting ‘cool’ - not a rusk he’ll ever run.

As his pupils, we’re encouraged to clap along with his awful singing, from stilted raps to a rewrite of Jump Around that hails his beloved feline. There’s plenty of call-and-response style audience participation too, which feels increasingly like filler to distract from the one-dimensional writing, especially when other comics are doing so much more with such interactions. 

There are occasional pearls of daft wisdom  (‘What’s a llama? It’s a giraffe sheep’), but they’re hit-and-miss, while the irony of agonisingly bad Christmas cracker-style puns should be deployed more sparingly than they are.

The bright-eyed, friendly demeanour of Luis – who won the 2012 Raw Comedy competition as a trio with Len and equally hopeless brother Luelin – is certainly endearing, but only to a point. Over an hour, Lessons With Luis this feels like an amusing short sketch idea that’s got ideas beyond its capabilities, a creation in search of a raison d’etre.

• Lessons With Luis is at ACMI at 7pm (6pm Sundays) until April 17, not Mondays.

Review date: 31 Mar 2016
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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