Ben Verth is an explosive bounty of hair, personality and cheerful self-deprecation which he amply shares with you in his latest show, What is this place? In this hour Verth explores the nature of perception, and how it moulds our behaviour. How can we break through the walls of the way others perceive us? Verth also presents some rather cheeky ways one can use people’s perceptions to their own advantage.
Verth finds humour in the weird, the odd, and the downright wrong. He sees the funny side of failure, can laugh at his own inadequacies and faltering efforts at self-improvement. Verth turns some of the cruelty the world has dispensed upon him into an avenue for amusement. His use of multimedia enhanced without distracting from the performance, and his sense of timing is definitely well honed.
Verth’s agility as an interactive performer cannot be questioned. Of the hundreds of comedy gigs I’ve witnessed, I’ve never seen a performer have to deal with a heckler wanting to discuss their now deceased ex-boyfriend and the time they were sexually assaulted. Verth didn’t bat an eyelid. He navigated the situation with not only aplomb, but decency and a degree of sensitivity. He managed to relieve the tension of a genuinely difficult scenario for an audience who didn’t quite know what to do. This performer can guide the good ship comedy to safety through the most turbulent of situations and with a minimum of casualties. Every show is bound to be unique.
I was, however, disappointed that a large and hairy man’s show would contain so much content on being a large and hairy man. While it is understandable that comedians must address the elephant in the room – no pun intended – to transcend the immediately apparent sets one gig apart from another, and unfortunately Verth found himself on the wrong side of this line.
Nonetheless Verth has stage presence that ricochets off the back walls. The pounding energy of his delivery does not dip for a second. I’d say this gig is well Verth the price of admission.