A man in the front row at Bec Hill’s show accuses her of being the worst comedian he’s ever seen. He launches into a cascade of heckles that meet the approval of the sour-faced, dead-eyed line-up next to him. He pulls out a gun and shoots himself and his counterparts through the head to save them from this travesty of a so called ‘comedy’. Or so Hill would have it in one of her many ingenious flip-chart paper-art animations as she demonstrates the central theme of her show: her fears in general and of the audience in particular.
It’s a fantastic through-line, which breaks into segments on her other fears - clowns, monster-attacks, flying, death – whilst using her audience fear as the central anchor. Hill puts herself immediately into a position of vulnerability, pacifying her audience by flattering us with ideas of our status rather than flaunting the power of her’s. It’s also flattering to see the amazing detail and effort put into Hill’s presentation, with all sorts of details and intricacies in the animations. We feel like we’re on her side and that she’s on our’s.
It’s a fun place to be. Hill’s style is self-consciously childish in the best possible way, with silly voices and motifs that speak of a child’s imagination more than an adult’s. It might prove a tiny bit twee for some tastes, but she gets away with it because her word-play is good, her set structures and call-backs sophisticated and her topic very emotionally engaging. Hill is at her best when at her most surreal. Her mime responses to a fictional dating advice tape, ‘How to Be a Ladykiller’ gets more fantastic the more she piles into it and her responses to scripted heckles peak as she awards the ‘best heckler’ card, crown and bouquet of flowers.
This is the sort of comedy that feels like it could go anywhere, wildly inventive and alive with opportunity. Hill and her illustrations are extensions of one another: cartoonish, whimsical, inventive, surreal, with all the tabs and strings left showing.