Burns and Quartermaine are the yin and yang of righteous anger. Burns’ classic acerbic delivery and manic stage persona is balanced out by the calmer presence of the comparatively new comic, Quartermaine. This makes them a fantastic double act with a riotous dynamic, through which they deliver a hysterical and thought-provoking show which contextualises the relationship between white and indigenous people in Australia.
Provocative and hilarious
Both from around Perth, but with vastly different backgrounds and perspectives, the show, while intense, has the pleasing air of two mates having a chat. Throughout much of the show, there is a work-in-progress feeling, as they interrupt and improvise around one another, while simultaneously being perfectly structured and paced. The two comics take snipes at each other, then step back to let each other take centre stage. The pair say they’re ‘celebrating awkwardness’ in their show and it’s clear that they revel in challenging the audience’s privilege and creating tension.
The show contains a number of anecdotes from the two comics’ work in Burn’s podcast Dumb White Guy, in which he tries to interview people of different ethnicities, genders and sexualities to himself. Their incredible self-awareness, specifically in Burns’ readiness for self-critique, demonstrates the importance of admitting ingrained social prejudice. The perpetual feeling of white guilt in the room is palpable and Burns teases the crowd incessantly. Any potential true discomfort is alleviated, however, by the air of control the seasoned professionals exude.
It may be the case that at an international festival, some of the debates brought up will be familiar to audience members, but to many, this show will provoke a lot of inner questioning, while forcing you to double-over with laughter. Despite some technical faults, Race Off is a fantastic show – provocative and hilarious.