‘Randy Writes A Novel’ was the kind of hilarity one has come to expect from such a seasoned comedian as puppet Randy but it may have surprised many with some of the deeper messages it slid in from time to time.
As part of the Wonderland Festival, the show made its Brisbane debut having been performed around the world even nabbing a nomination for Best Comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The show about Randy’s first novel and his writing process did not feature regular offsider Sammy J; just Randy stuck behind a desk with his manuscript resting on it and a little mood lighting. Whether his show entertained was all on him and this is where – as a professional comedian – Randy shone. The Brisbane crowd came ready to be raucous already fired up on a Friday night and out for some laughs. What followed was the kind of high-wire comedy that is difficult to pull off.
Randy engaged the audience throughout, throwing questions out to attendees and engaging in conversations. At times people would call out and he would ask them to repeat themselves leaving no potential comedic stone unturned. It led to some of the biggest laughs of the night but Randy continued to challenge in many ways.
He set up a running gag of starting to read the manuscript and then finding something else to talk about, he would insist that he wasn’t going to lecture about being a vegan and then proceeded to mention some of the benefits.
Through the strength of his personality and the greatness of his comedic chops he had the crowd laughing hard through most of the first half. Yet slowly he segued from thoughts of mortality and famous authors to telling a story. The story had laughs but more importantly it had all the hallmarks of what makes a great narrative including a twist that nobody saw coming. In fact a lot of what he said were stories one way or another, even before that last one; which is not surprising because we all regularly tell stories. As audiences we are always seeking authenticity in our art, and in our storytelling seeking something we can recognise and see as real.
‘Randy Writes A Novel’ asks some big questions about these desires and judgments. Most stand-up acts hold less power once you’ve heard the routine, this one might be unique in how it raises questions that second viewings might help inform answers to. With the heavy engagement with the audience too, no two shows would be the same.
There is an argument to be made that some of the ideas in 'Randy Writes A Novel' may have gone over the audience’s head. As it's a comedy at its heart however, this doesn't matter. ‘Randy Writes A Novel’ made me laugh hard from start to finish.