As I sat in the tiny Vault below Q Theatre last night I contemplated how much I admire people who can get on stage for an hour and try to make people laugh. It must be the most challenging of all the types of live gig, especially if you are playing to a very small house.
Unfortunately for Uther Dean – writer, critic and comedian – only 15 people saw his show in a venue that holds over 50.
This was a shame, because Uther Dean is quite impressive.
He is an incredibly intelligent man who provided a quirky mix of self-flagellation, insecurity, biting wit and clever observations on pop culture. It was obvious he is obsessed with film and his retention and recall of cinematic moments is truly inspiring.
While not always delivering constant laughs, he managed to draw his audience into some rather long stories that, in his own words, were ‘entertaining rather than funny.’ Yet at times, particularly when he was riffing about his own life, he had us in stitches.
An example was a brutally honest section about being someone who sweats profusely. Rather than being creepy, this proved to be the funniest moment of the show.
Dean is something of a curiosity, at times he seems awkward on stage as though he’s suddenly shy and self-deprecating, the next moment he is supremely confident to the point of smugness. It’s a good balance.
On the negative side, he sometimes mumbled his asides and played a bit much to the people he knew in the audience. His intellectual analysis of people and culture often brought in a little too much detail for those who are not as obsessed with film as he seemed to be.
Dean has the potential to be a break out comedic star. He has a good grasp of satire and despite saying more than once that he is ‘shit at comedy,’ he intrinsically knows what people will find funny. He used his vulnerabilities and idiosyncrasies to good effect.
With such a small audience, some of his material didn’t seem to quite catch. Larger audiences tend to bounce off one another and this is what Dean’s comedy needs for him to make that breakthrough.
I hope that opportunity arises because he’s definitely ready for it.
UTHER DEAN ‘Elevation’
7-11 May 2019
For more comedic moments visit www.comedyfestival.co.nz