Have you ever seen a cold tap play table tennis? Kiwi comedian Barnie Duncan gives us this and much more in his new show Tap Head, playing in the Games Room at ACMI this Comedy Fest. Barnie has been a staple in the festival scene in recent years, taking home such awards as Best Newcomer in 2015 and Adelaide Fringe’s Best Comedy in 2018. True to form, this artist has once again brought something special to Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
To begin, audience members are greeted with pounding dance music, setting the energy of the room electrifyingly high. Duncan keeps our careful attention for the entire hour – through thoughtful physicality, clever and often absurd stand-up, and an evocative soundtrack featuring the likes of Phil Collins and Ultravox.
He wastes no time in introducing his unlikely protagonist, a tap. The headpiece worn by Juancan is impressive – but it is his studied performance that truly brings this odd character to life. We find ourselves empathising with the tap’s story, cheering him on and commiserating when things don’t go his way. It is a concept that could have easily fallen flat, but Duncan plays it with a love that is difficult to resist.
Comedy Fest patrons can expect a fun, unabashed performance that switches masterfully between joy and pathos – with help from a cheeky tech-assistant named Nick, who shines as brightly as the leading man. Together they make a potent team, delivering us a funny and sharp show that can be enjoyed by taps and humans alike.