Hansby is up first and I am pleasantly surprised at the evolution his stage presence has gone through. His comedy show last year was, to paraphrase myself, like my teenage insecurities come to life. Now, Hansby stands steadier, with flickers of an almost defiant eye contact steeling into us before his introverted nature carries his gaze to the floor again. Hansby has now got the feel of an early 20-something getting the hang of social consciousness, but not quite knowing what to land on just yet. It is glorious to watch.
As ever, Hansby’s wonderful mixture of “Aww”-some humour garners sympathy from the audience. The laughter that bubbles forth mixes with the familiar pathetic-ness we’ve all felt before; whether it’s trying to talk to a hottie at a bar, or our individual parental woes, Hansby makes me laugh heartily. I sigh into my wine, thankful those years of being unsure of how to fit in the world are behind me, colouring at past embarrassments. This is the brilliance of Hansby’s comedic style. You are laughing at him, but he makes you laugh at yourself, too. In a way, it’s like an unwitting self-help guide since it daubs these scenarios with warmth and humour. It’s a pretty special experience.
I love the little nuances of Hansby’s stage presence. No longer silent and dour during laughter, this newly adult version can’t help but crack a wee smile and shake his head. These details make us all complicit in the jokes and I find it really charming. Hansby’s best quality is his use of pauses. He has a mastery of knowing how to use them exactly right to get the biggest laughs. It is a skill that builds anticipation for the milliseconds leading up to the punchline. Stomach tight, breath held in throat, I relish these moments. Even when Hansby forgets his next line for a few seconds, I am conditioned to enjoy the wait since previous experience tells me what comes next is absolutely worth it. It’s like the Marshmallow Test. Always wait so you get two marshmallows. Many comedians will immediately give you one marshmallow, Hansby’s pauses mean we get a comedy dose of two. And two is always better.
After we cheer and clap for Hansby, we are warm with belly-laughs for Josh Davies. Being nearly blind, Davies takes this and works it into some wonderfully dark humour. You know that kind of weird “ho-ho-ho” chortling sound you make when you’re not sure if you should laugh at something, but it’s just too funny? That’s what Davies is like. The mad witch inside me crows with maniacal glee, my eyes flashing with the delight of enjoying humour that celebrates the never-to-be-perpetrated evil. The dark side of our moons. Schadenfreude is a thing for a reason.
In a particular moment I love, Davies jokes about his anxiety and his general abhorrence of other people. Meant in jest, he cleverly turns these moments into self-introspection for the audience. I look into myself to find what I most dislike there. So often, these would be times of self-loathing, but really, it’s very cathartic. I was surprised to find if that was the worst, it’s not too bad. I find it a brilliant way of Davies to have the audience test themselves to see what needs improving.
It’s not all doom and hilarious gloom, though. Davies also showcases a sublime range of humour about the geekisphere. Quips about character attribute selections being put into real-world scenarios, anthropomorphising static objects into melodramas and elongated monologues of video game characters kept me laughing throughout his set. I do have to say, though, that while I love the diatribe presented to us by a pixelated farmer (read to us by Davies), sadly, I felt the audience was not as in touch with the premise as myself. To have everyone experience this with the same joy as I did, making this sequence more concise might be beneficial. Unfortunately, some niches are so tight, people get stuck without background knowledge to guide them. As someone who owns the walkthrough and all the cheat codes within said niche though, it is fracking hilarious.
Hansby and Davies’ show truly was not only Dorkward, but adorkable (sorry, I had to). It has aww’s, oof’s, aah’s and laughter. Chortles, snickers, and hoots are all prevalent and they know how to keep you laughing. My friends and I dished excitedly over their performances, analysing references and poorly re-enacting our favourite bits. I loved it a lot, glad my life is more Dorkward than before.
Joel Hansby and Josh Davies’ show Dorkward is on at Ivy Bar from the 10th - 13th of May. You can find tickets here.