Demi Lardner: Ditch Witch 800 | Melbourne Comedy Festival review by Steve Bennett
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Demi Lardner: Ditch Witch 800

Melbourne Comedy Festival review by Steve Bennett

‘This is the dumbest shit I’ve ever done,’ Demi Lardner asserts about Ditch Witch 800. And given what onslaughts of insanity she’s unleashed at previous festivals, that’s quite some claim. Her dumb scale is calibrated differently from the rest of the world.

She’s an exciting, intense and unpredictable comedian; there’s genuinely no telling what she’ll do next in her hour, from unhinged characters, bursts of songs, aggressive physicality or snippets of extreme true-life tales.

Hers is not a show audiences can entirely relax in, both for that feeling of not knowing what’s coming and because of her full-on, in-your-face persona. She’s happy dive into the crowd to make people feel uncomfortable, for instance, even if only for a moment before the tension is released.

Fragmented absurdity is her stock-in-trade, and while it’s not for those seeking conventional stand-up, fans of Sam Simmons should be on board. She’ll jump between weird alter-egos such as ‘the mayor of the show’ leading us in a messed-up national anthem, to the maniacally desperate ‘Paige’ seeking her boyfriend, or another authority figure apologising for  an unfortunate incident in Lush – all interspersed with a volley of insane one-liners and non-sequiturs

For all the rapid-fire oddness, she occasionally allows a glimpse into her messed-up background that made her this way, with harrowingly dark memories that ought to take years of therapy to unpack shared as throwaway lines. And very funny they are too. Such moments offer a human connection beneath the surrealism, and explains the desperate need for attention she never received as a child. Meanwhile a home video offers an hilarious, inadvertent look into her father’s psyche

The absurdity is also expressed through pin-sharp joke-writing, making the show more than its full-throttle oddness. The script – and there is one, surprisingly – is full of quirky asides that show how she can twist and bend language in way that seems dumb, but requires an off-kilter viewpoint to pull off. For example, kangaroos should henceforth always be known as ‘bounce demons’.

She is a erratic typhoon of eccentricity, and trying to keep up with it is a wild and bracing white-knuckle ride

Review date: 6 Apr 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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