David Huntsberger: Big Nothingness

David Huntsberger’s stand-up show is problematic as a comedy show as it has very little resembling a joke. The humour throughout seems to consist only in pointing out how strange it would be if such and such a strange thing came about. The decision to include a projector screen with abstract animations playing throughout, most of the time only vaguely related to what he is discussing, was also probably not a good move. For a significant part of the time the visuals held sway as the more enticing thing to focus on, making Huntsberger’s rambling stories even more difficult to follow.

As if the creators of hit-show Adventuretime had decided to devise an episode that was entirely devoid of story arcs or punchlines.

The ruminations he tells are loosely based on science, and the subject matter of his material is interesting and novel, but he appears unconstrained by any understandable logic of thought that typically distinguishes this academic field. A prime example of this problem is as follows: building on the interesting fact that human beings share 50% of their DNA with bananas, Huntsberger then quips that this means that it could well have been that bananas were the dominant species on Earth. He continues that this obviously means that there is a planet somewhere in the universe where bananas are the dominant species. The lacklustre finale to this extended section is Huntsberger expressing repeatedly that he is excited to try and find this planet. It is as if the creators of hit-show Adventuretime had decided to devise an episode that was entirely devoid of story arcs or punchlines.

He also covered quite a lot of very similar ground multiple times throughout the show. There was an extended section towards the beginning which imagined potential matter discussing which animal they hoped to be brought into existence as, and how they felt that living as insects, for example, would far outweigh the monotonous lifestyle of humans. Following shortly after, he imagined people discussing which afterlife they want to end up in, discussing how an afterlife entitled the ‘lobster void’ would far outweigh the rather monotonous perks of heaven. Still later in the show, there is then another section in which he again imagines potential matter weighing up which world, out of an unlimited variety of different potential worlds, they would most like to live in. After another convoluted bit, they initially opt for somewhere called ‘marshmallow world’, as they conclude that the task of eating three times a day is something of a bore, before eventually deciding that this probably wasn’t a good choice after all.

One of these sections might have been a positive addition to the show but taken in sum, they weigh down the creativity, and there is no explicit acknowledgement that they are all playing on the same theme. Huntsberger was aware throughout that his material was falling somewhat flat, but never seemed to grasp that it was because his flights of fantasy were themselves something of a bore.  

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The Blurb

With abstract animation playing in the background, American comedian David Huntsberger explores how we got here and what other worlds might exist between our physical existences.

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