How foolish did this reviewer feel? Very! Is the short answer. Wrong comedian! In my haste to get to the comedy stakes I had failed to notice the difference between established comedian Dave Callan and a David Callan, also referred to as Dave in some emailed information.
Being early for the show was fortuitous – Northbridge was simply teeming with punters keen to kick off the Australia Day long weekend.
At the Brass Monkey there were two shows, David Callan was in a small dimly lit room downstairs.It was a cosy space, which was just as well because there were only nine punters in the audience. Callan (David) is a tall rangy character who is some 20 years younger than his namesake and some 20 kilos lighter, at a guess.
He is a Scot, whereas Dave Callan is an Irishman now living in Perth after a meteoric career in the Eastern States. The mistake was compounded when this reviewer googled an image of David Callan and was completely fooled by the heavy beard, glasses and shoulder length locks.
This was only my third event attended in the current Fringe Comedy Festival, the others being the WA Comedy All Stars, which featured six comics at the Heath Ledger Theatre in the State Theatre Centre and the solo show Pinky Swears by Gill Collinson. The last attracted a much larger audience of twelve!
It made me wonder if the policy of the Festival organization was to accept all comers if a venue could be found for them. Not that the Festival shouldn't be a window for up and coming comedians, that is how reputations are grown and followings developed. It certainly makes the job of the artist a hard one, or so it would seem. Not that it appeared to dent David Callan or indeed Collinson's confidence. Both rose admirably to the challenge in slightly different ways.
Collinson simply stuck to her script of amusing events in her past on the way to emigration to Australia and her subsequent life in Oz. David Callan adopted a seemingly more casual approach. He rambled about the small stage area with insouciance and having established the names of some of the tiny audience he drew them into his narrative by throwing questions at them. He struck comedy gold with a young couple who were keen to respond and "dish the dirt" on their partners in their seemingly improbable eight years of marriage. Having discovered the male partner was twenty nine, the audience then engaged in mass mental arithmetic to figure out their age at the point of marriage. Mass amazement. Twenty one!
After that he revealed the origin of the name of his show. Apparerently last year, which is, after all only a few weeks ago, he was asked to provide a show name and desperately casting about for inspiration his eye fell upon a packet of potato chips. Hence the more commonly used English version, Crisps.
After that Callan skated blithely into familiar territory for immigrant comics. His notion that Australia was largely inhabited by treacherous beasts. A ready example was gigantic sharks, one of which he had actually been metres away from. Unlikely, but cue for some very funny mimed reaction.
Moving onto the irritations of modern life Callan centered on slow walkers. He is a talented mimic and demonstrated their shortcomings amusingly.
Using a brief number of old fashioned slides and his own portable sound equipment Callan demonstrated the atmosphere of the fringe admirably. Rather than embarrassment at the paucity of audience we all felt pleased we had chanced upon a fresh comedian on his way to bigger houses.
A throw back to a former mentioned bugbear was the music he chose to close the show – the Proclaimers "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)."
All in all, a happy accident.
2024 Perth Fringe World
Venue: Brass Monkey Hotel | Corner of William & James St, Northbridge, WA
Dates: 27 January – 17 February 2024
Tickets: $30 – $20