Friday, April 25, 2008

Lawrence Leung Learns To Breakdance Review

I didn't have to review the performance last night, but my cold, walnut-sized brain couldn't help itself. I feel this is a better review than the one of Brilliant Monkey.

I'm interested in this thing about the contract between performer (or writer) and audience because in the post below, which is a monthly column I write for a magazine, I'm probably going to switch from what basically happened to 'imagine if this happened'. I think some things are funnier when you know it actually happened... unless from the start you've established that it's all fiction.

I dunno. It's like you establish what we both expect out of this thing (slap-stick, fantasy, hard-boiled etc), and as a reader or audience member you shift your mind-set accordingly.

Read the review and let me know what you think. Or not. I don't care.

(The Japanese reference is kind of a joke from the show and I would love to tell you what the T shirt bit was all about because I fucking howled with laughter, but I don't want to spoil LL's joke. If he was selling those T shirts after the show I would totally have bought one).


Lawrence Leung tries to learn to break dance because it’s the only way he feels he can out-cool his brother. This is warm comedy, nice, human, touchy feely stuff which had moments of real hilarity. In fact it was so warm and nice and occasionally so funny that I feel like a bit of a shit saying that although it was good, I’ve seen way better.

The contract here between performer and audience is that this is all real: Lawrence Leung really does embark on a mission to be cool. His brother has it all over Lawrence in the areas of fashion, ladies and ‘tude, so Lawrence decides he will out-cool his bass guitar-playing brother in dance.

Look, it’s funny, this goofy “documentary” style comedy. In concept and execution, the fashion segment was really funny. The *Japanese characters on the designer T shirt piece was laugh out loud funny. Seriously good stuff.

But why did he bother looking astonished at the Rubic’s cube set-up? Do the piece but please don’t pretend that this is all some freaky coincidence because it totally breaks the contract between performer and audience. Leung himself has described his act as documentary comedy... there is no place for faking stuff in documentary.

An audience will suspend disbelief if that’s the deal... fuck it – you can take us to the moon on a giant banana if we know it’s fantasy, but when we see a performer lie and pretend something fake is real it just undermines the rest of the show. What else in this “documentary” comedy was fiction? If it’s fiction, be up-front about it. We’ll be as cool as Dennis with that.

Audiences everywhere have been loving this show, so maybe I’m just a being weird about this contract thing. Lawrence Leung Learns To Breakdance, for me, was uneven but had a good heart. And yes, quite a few funny bits.

*I being racist.

Season over.



Kathryn said...

We'll be as cool as Dennis with that.

That's great. Sounds like a funny night out. If I were in Syd I'd definitely go. I need some funny in my life right now. Not that there's anything wrong. I just want some. :)

quick said...

If you were in Sydney I'd probably have asked you to come with. But I'm a moody bastard and went alone. It was funny and what's so cool about it is that he made so many people laugh. It was flawed, but it was warm and had a good heart.

Yeah, get a hit of funny. It's good shit, man.