Winner of last year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival Best Newcomer award, Tom Walker unleashed his sophomore hour, ‘Bee Boo’, at the Brisbane Powerhouse (21 March).
If you’re going to see Tom Walker based on his starring role in the Australian version of ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’, do not expect light-hearted family fun.
When not improvising on TV with a talented cast, Tom’s style toes the line of comedy and annoyance. Thankfully, Tom’s comedy is hilarious and his annoyance is charming.
Wearing a private schoolboy uniform, Tom’s costume is appropriate for the child-like joy and enthusiasm he has for trying new ideas on his audience. The Tom the audience first saw was wide-eyed, friendly and smiling, even going outside before the show’s start to place a Welcome mat at the door.
It wasn’t long before the wild Tom appeared, startling the audience by violently abusing several baby dolls. The glee he took in punishing his assistants was infectious, with the audience roaring with laughter at the violence.
Throughout the show, Tom points out the number of walk-outs he had during his Adelaide run of the show even displaying a chart tallying them. It’s easy to see why, with his unpreparedness and some parts of the show pushing the audience away, particularly his sometimes hostile banter, which even he apologises for his behaviour at times.
However, no one in Brisbane left the show for when Tom launched into routines, he soared.
Tom was hilarious with his small gags involving props and music, like one about his dissatisfaction with the noise coming from a seashell or when he turns socks into lounge singers.
But his ventures into clowning are remarkable. An early routine about fishing was a delight, with the audience members he chose going along for the ride. Just as much fun was his experiment involving imaginary bowls. A spontaneous bit of conducting audience noises was a welcome surprise and deserves to be permanent part of the show.
But where Tom really shined was the love story he concluded the show with. Playing both roles, Tom picks up on wonderful, small details – figuring out which way a condom goes on is relatable to many – to tell a story that went from funny awkward to extremely gross, getting a lot of shocked hoots of laughter.
As this was the first night of his Brisbane shows, Tom spent a lot of the night working through some technical mistakes. While ‘Bee Boo’ does need some tightening, it’s a lot of fun to see where Tom’s mind takes his audience.
‘Bee Boo’ is a show which can frustrate audiences, but rewards its audience with its hilarious lunacy.
Tom Walker's ‘Bee Boo’ plays Brisbane Powerhouse until 26 March.