Is Komischer, starring Doug Walker, of Aaaand Now For Something Completely Improvised fame, too clever for it’s own good?

Coiled up and ready to unwind itself, Walker’s act is clever and mechanically impressive, but it’s not quite in touch with a living audience

This one-man sketch show, with a yoghurt-based theme running through the middle of it, is an extremely refined, high-concept show that stands on its sheer variety and its high-brow ideas, suspended between the sketch format and something a little more experimental. Though a little hit-and-miss at times, no particle of this routine is wasted, nothing is left undercapitalised, and next to nothing is included which does not either make one laugh or think, at least a little.

Walker’s expressive face, caked in clown-like face-paint, and keenly observational performance style runs the gamut of voices, accents and characters, placed in a medley of skits which amount to little less than a series of well-wrought playlets. From ironic, observational comedians spouting about how things used to be different ‘in the past’, to dismal poetry which actually kind of makes a point when you think about it, and an extended skit about a man with too many (or too few?) testicles, a suspenseful anticipation of purpose runs through every piece, which in turn is borne out in Walker’s deliberative performance.

There is, however, an element of over-reaching here, an attempt to both have your cake and eat it too: at points the audience is asked to both laugh at a sketch ironically, at tired cliches of observational comedy, and yet also laugh at the genuinely, dare it be said, amusingly observational content. It’s a jarring, contrapuntal sort of doublethink, an inherent tension in the form of Komischer that suggests replicating the formula would be difficult, but it is an admirable and effective effort.

Perhaps more problematically, although displaying all the signs of being a masterful comedic and dramatic performer, Walker can’t directly engage the audience, being trapped behind the conceit constructed for himself, creating a strange alienation effect. Full of bright ideas, the show marks itself out as an intellectual piece, more in tune with the head than the heart, or, indeed, the belly laugh. Coiled up and ready to unwind itself, Walker’s act is clever and mechanically impressive, but it’s not quite in touch with a living audience.

Aside from this strange distancing, and an occasional sense of disjointedness, Komischer (‘funnier’, ‘droll’, in German) is funny, at times brilliant, and desperately clever. Loosely threaded together by a joke about context and content, it also has a point to make about the purpose of comedy. It’s a unique little piece, and hopefully the audience can keep pace with the wit of its author. 

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The Blurb

Douglas Walker presents his second one-man sketch show. After the unmitigated success of Möglich in 2015 and at Perth and Adelaide Fringes in 2016, Walker has somehow found the time to concoct a brand new hour of weird stories, off-kilter characters and uncanny sketches. In fact, this one is even komischer. Adelaide Fringe Weekly Comedy Award 2016. Fringe World Arts Editor Award nominee 2016. ‘A one-man sketch act which broadens the form with exciting effect.’ **** (List). ‘Impressive and clever; a slow burn oddity that provides some glimpses into the darker parts of a comic mind.’ **** (West Australian).