I am always sceptical when I come across a solo show. It takes an extraordinary person to keep an audience entertained for any length of time, but the fact that this show was nominated for a Billy T Comedy Award enticed me to go. Jo performed a similar show in June last year during the annual New Zealand Comedy Festival and has been brought back by popular demand she will soon be performing in Melbourne. I have never seen or read any of Randerson’s plays and neither have I seen her perform, although I have been warned (a number of times) that she was both ‘different’ and ‘out there’. After seeing her perform Scazzle Dazzle I would have to agree with both of these descriptions. I would go so far as to say that many would find her show completely unfunny.
The show opens with aliens and experimental eggs in a rather bizarre fashion, with Jo hatching from one egg amidst smoke and other special effects. She emerges looking like Cousin It from the Adams Family. Throughout the hour long show she morphs from one character to next (with the help of a bemused stage hand) without ever leaving the stage. With the aid of puppets, costume and wigs Jo begins to turn the ordinary into the bizarre, and portrays real life for what it truly is – a joke.
The reality is that the jokes were lame, the dancing was bad, the singing was, well ok, and nothing about the content of this show was actually funny. However it was so unfunny that it was funny. Does that make sense? I found myself laughing but wondering what the hell I was laughing at. It was Jo’s performance of these ‘unfunny’ jokes and acts that made it funny, and with her vibrant and energetic personality she seduces you into believing it is. It is her enthusiasm and comic timing, and with the weird and wacky characters she plays that makes the show. At one point she has everyone in the audience feeling sorry for poor old Carleen Carly, a showbiz newbie who is slowly diminished into being a wall flower as her dream is shattered. Each of Jo’s characters comes to life in a morphed style; Each character leaves us with a different emotion.
With lights flashing, dry ice pouring onto the stage and visual affects of a shadowed alien having a really bad hair day, an atmosphere is set that allows the audience to step out of their own reality and into Jo’s bizarre world. And with her unfunny jokes and crazy personality she draws the audience’s attention, leaving them wondering what will happen next. A surprisingly enjoyable show.
Written and Performed by Jo Randerson
BATS Theatre 7 – 11 March