The beauty of this being a comedy show is that it means Dean can guide us through everything, explaining things where explanation is needed, and constantly reassuring us that the story will begin soon. He makes jokes about Wellington. He makes jokes about knowing everyone in the audience by name (potentially actually 100% true - 6 years, remember). He makes jokes about touring BATS shows to The Basement in Auckland. He makes jokes about Creative New Zealand. They are all nihilistic and bleak but incredibly self aware. Uther Dean is not afraid of the meta. He embraces it and draws power from it. He addresses his weight and the fact that this is not stand up comedy because he is sitting down. He teases out issues about his artistic form. This is a Comedy Fest show and it gets definite, genuine, committed laughs; which it absolutely deserves. But as he himself acknowledges, it is primarily storytelling. Not that comedy and storytelling are mutually exclusive. If anything, the importance of timing and pacing align them quite well with each other.
Dean has a very specific natural speech pattern when he is performing and at times I found it hard to keep up with him, particularly before I had settled into things. There were a few moments at the start of the show where I found myself in the middle of an idea without knowing how I had got there. It's difficult to critique this because the weaving of different threads and ideas is part of the charm of the show; but I wonder if giving more space and breath in some places would have put me at ease earlier. Maybe I would have felt smarter earlier on if I had been given a more gradual build up into what is a demanding web of causality and thematic resonance. However it's also possible that this was an opening night thing and that I if I went another night, I would have had no issues with the rhythm at all.
In my experience, when Dean’s writing is filtered through an actor and/or director (Tiny Deaths and Everything is Surrounded by Water), it becomes easier to follow and relate to. This wasn't his best performance, but the presence of this show in the Comedy Festival says some interesting things about what theatre and comedy have to offer each other. Dean’s quip about the difference between theatre and comedy being that people actually come to comedy really stuck with me, and is the only punchline that I'm going to ruin. You'll have to go and see the show to hear any number of other punchlines that I could have ruined.
All that is left to me to say is that Uther Dean's incomparable flair for titling things is rivalled only by his incomparable flair for writing Uther Dean shows. And I really like Uther Dean shows.