Time Out Review by Theresa Winters
You might remember him from Pretending Things are a Cock and now Jon Bennett is back with a show about his dad’s deaths, plural.
Premiering at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, My Dad’s Deaths is the story of how Jon’s dad’s died falling off a ladder only to come back to life and then die on a train and later again in a tragic accident.
A hilarious portrait of a comedian’s relationship with his ultra-conservative father, you might just die laughing.
The start of the show, as words project onto the wall, says it all: “This is not a standup show.” It’s not; it’s a story about Jon Bennett’s life, with the central arc being his relationship with his father, and growing up on a farm in SA. Sounds boring? It’s anything but.
Lively and enigmatic, Bennett is a master storyteller (this is the man who runs not one, but threestorytelling nights around the city, including the monthly Willow Tales). The audience is spellbound, laughing, gasping, allowing their emotions to be played upon. There’s even a hilarious bit of crowd participation that juxtaposes brawny men with Jon’s diminutive frame.
It’s a poignant show, as Bennett relates various ways his father has come near death (#1: Death on the Roof, kicks off the show), and ways he feels he’s disappointed him (Disappointment #19: not being like Banjo Patterson).
Not every gimmick is as strong – the Facebook status updates could have been trimmed down, and the video of his earlier standup went on slightly too long. Similarly, the room itself is not made for a show that has so much interaction with images, and even video clips, projected onto a side wall; some of the audience had to crane their necks to see.
But all in all, this is one gut-wrenchingly good show. From his poetry readings to his family photos, the mélange of happy and sad emotions the crowd experiences leaves everyone feeling massively content. This is one extremely fun hour of your life, and you’d be foolish not to see it before Bennett takes it on tour around the world.