Larry Dean review (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)

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Larry Dean is from Scotland. His accent is solidly, deliciously Glaswegian which always for me adds an element to the jokes; like Billy Connolly, I’m sure that at times it would not be quite as funny in an English voice.

But he has a strong ability for mimicry and accents. Much of his show is nasal posh Aussie and other parts in smooth whale mimicking sounds. Combined with his elastic facial expressions and freaky eye movements, he brings a damn funny exaggeration to his caricatures. He also uses his physicality to highlight aspects of his characters’ personalities.

And his material is terrific. What you think might be a meandering series of stories and jokes are drawn to a satisfyingly funny and at times poignant end by the end of his 60 minute show.

It centres around his (Melbourne-based) boyfriend and family and his caricatures are drawn mostly from this close circle. It means he can bring depth to the sketches that you may not otherwise see – there’s years of observation behind each tic or lift of a brow.

Dean has a wry sense of the ridiculous. The payoff in a joke about waking in a men’s public toilet that works because it’s spot on and not the build-up, which can at times be pretty filthy, that makes the story work and be outrageously funny.

In some ways this is a show about homophobia partly because he directly discusses it and partly because it so consistently references aspects of gay sex it normalises what has been often beyond what we might encounter in comedy. It works on several levels: there are straight out smutty larfs, jokes about the trickiness of relationship and musings on homophobia without being preachy about any of them.

Dean is not necessarily reinventing stand-up but he is bringing a distinctly personal take to it. His show is very funny and satisfyingly thoughtful. Highly recommended!

Larry Dean plays at ACMI nightly until April 21

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