Dane Simpson & His Dad: The King and I | Melbourne International Comedy Festival review
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Dane Simpson & His Dad: The King and I

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review

The ‘comedians teaming up with their parents’ trend has probably crested, thanks to the likes of Jack Whitehall, Russell Howard and Romesh Ranganathan all making TV shows with the people who brought them up.

But last year, Dane Simpson got in on the act, taking part in The Amazing Race Australia Celebrity Edition with his larger-than-life dad Bow, 69 at the time. Now their double act is official, with father and son sharing the stage at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Not for the first time, mind. They forged their performance partnership at karaoke nights in Wagga Wagga, and Bow has long been present – in spirit at least – in his son’s stand-up, given that his bizarre, spontaneous, sometimes inappropriate behaviour proving ideal fodder for comedy.

No wonder that fully incorporating him into the show is billed as a recipe for chaos. And so it proves when ‘loose as a goose’ Bow launches into a rape joke, very quickly shut down by a panicked Dane. The pre-show warning that the Aboriginal comic shouldn’t be cancelled because of anything his dad says no longer seems like a joke. 

Luckily, Bow behaves, at least on taste grounds, for the rest of the show, occasionally lobbing in a pub gag, an irrelevant fact, or a bizarrely simple ‘think of a number…’ trick.

Visit Melbourne Melbourne International Comedy FestivvalMelbourne International Comedy Festiva news and reviews with Visit VictoriaIt takes a while before we meet Simpson Sr, mind, as Dane starts by rattling through his origin story as a comic, something he’s covered before in his shows. Stories from The Amazing Race bring us up to date – including an hilarious exchange Bow had with the cabin crew on his first-ever flight as they headed to the start line in India.

There’s probably more time dedicated to the reality show here than they appeared on screen, given they were first out of the race, but it’s a further introduction to Bow.

While the father-son partnership offers a disorganised kind of fun, what’s lacking here is a strong sense of why this is a show, not just two blokes mucking around on stage. A significant revelation from Dane suggests the foundations for a show that could have been written, but hasn’t.  

As a stand-up, the warm and effervescent Simpson is just such damn good company that a fine time is ensured. And the interactions between the generations are affectionate, spontaneous and genuine, which also fills the room with delight.

More sense of purpose – even if it got derailed – could have stepped this 50-minute offering up another gear, but even so, Simpson’s easy rapport with the audience goes a very long way. Longer than they got on Amazing Race, anyway.

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Review date: 12 Apr 2024
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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