Tom Walker: Very Very | Melbourne International Comedy Festival review
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Tom Walker: Very Very

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review

Tom Walker bills this as his take on ‘comedy’s dirtiest four-letter word: mime’, the performance art that – despite the best effort of many others – has never quite shed its awful image of white-faced try-hards trapped in invisible boxes  that remain, sadly, imaginary. ‘The mime is despised,’ Walker laments of the style that, for all its limitless possibilities, tends to confine itself to the standards.

Well, Very Very is a stronger attempt than most to break this restrictive mould, with a fast-paced series of imaginative non-verbal sketches on all manner of scenarios, many of which are hilarious. Mime lets him be cruel – especially to fictitious small furry creatures – and gross, which he takes full advantage of. But Walker is at his funniest when he’s just being silly, which is most of the time.

He is a brilliantly invigorating, expressive performer, full of joy at getting to muck about on stage, which he spreads to the audience with his compelling, charismatic, cheeky grin. Comparisons with a young Jim Carrey are likely to follow him all his career, for there is not only a physical similarity, but he shares his playfully manic verve. Hopefully he should take it as a compliment.

For a mime show, there’s quite a lot of talking as he chats to us between the skits, which only endears him more to us, showing us the real him, or at least a version of it, beyond the performance. And at least one routine – Casino Dog – is fully vocalised, with a couple of puns and a traditional, if original, gag as a payoff.

Other than that, he’s something of a purist, staying true to his mime. There are no cheap pull-backs breaking the image of what we thought he was doing.

And one running story even repurposes a dependable ancient routine, of the mime in a passionate embrace with a coat. But Walker – as is his wont – takes it further, imagining what happens should that encounter flourish into a relationship. It’s not the funniest section, but gives the show a heart to go with the exuberant soul displayed by the other scenes.

Very occasionally there’s some audience participation, but it’s kind and inclusive – not the bum-clenching awkwardness Walker previously indulged in, having studied at the feet of Philippe Gaulier who loves that sort of thing. Duly encouraged, the guy recruited for the Wild West sketch on this night stole the scene brilliantly.

This is one of a few moments that call to mind Tape Face – who has also done a coat routine – but even if they do share the same sense of play, Walker is his own man, concentrating mainly on one-man scenarios. And between them they might just give mime a good name.

Review date: 3 Apr 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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