'The Lone Star Show' is a charity show with a concept so brutal, it piques one’s interest in the same way a bullfight might.
A bullfight that raises money for depression. Five comedians, all of whom have, at some stage in their careers, received one-star reviews, perform a short routine, trying prove they didn’t deserve it. No, this isn’t that kind of charity show, where the audience is expected to clap politely into the self-esteem-o-meter for couldabeens on the way to if-only-town. The gimmick is each comedian is introduced by gregarious MC, Mike Klimczak, reading out the same one-star review that earned them a place in the show. And those reviews were, to employ some industry jargon, doozies. It almost seems a shame to share, but the reviewer who complained about too many puns in a show named ‘Pundamonium’ surely deserves a mention.
Being introduced with what surely must have been one of their darkest moments didn’t phase our performers and each held forth with a short set of enjoyable material, clearly drawn from longer sets. Having such a quick succession of big personalities did seem to restrict some performers. Jason Chong’s 'Flights Of Fancy' almost seemed improvised, and could have developed into something much more interesting, given more time, his large persona mostly winning the audience over instead.
Lindsay Webb had a fantastic time, barely flinching when his first crowd-work mark turned out to work for The Advertiser. This is the magic that comedy audiences seek; the real danger. Comedy is a high-wire act set in quantum space where the audience simultaneously desires both roaring success and waah-ker-splat failure. It takes admirable bravery to plough on after that:
‘What do you do there, mate?’ asked Webb, having made light of the gentleman’s entire outfit.
‘I occasionally review comedy’ said our front-row-friend to gasps of anticipation. Which were we to have? Roars of laughter? Waaah-ker-splat? Which? This was all set off nicely by MC Klimczak’s head sticking through the curtains hissing ‘There are six, repeat six media comps tonight! Six!’
However, this sort of interplay and staging was slight, yes, even incidental. More emphasis on the show’s theme of ‘One Star’ and what that means for depression, comedians and everything in-between could have turned what was an enjoyable, if risky concept, into something bigger. To engage meta-gear for just a moment: comedy reviewing isn’t a subject often tackled on-stage (or off) with much success. It’s time that changed. 'The Lone Star Show' may be the first foray into that new territory.