Physical comedians Barnie Duncan and Dani Cabs are revving up to bring one of the greatest and most memorable comedies about a cool dead dude ever made to Tuxedo Cat later this month.
The 1989 black comedy, Weekend at Bernie’s, is the inspiration for the duo’s MICF show, Weekend at Barnie’s, their homage to the original. Duncan reveals that the genesis of the show can be traced back to the understanding that familiarity breeds creativity.
“We figured out fairly quickly that we sort of looked similar, and both had Latino alter egos,” says Duncan. “Then in Adelaide Fringe there was a spot going at the Tux Cat and we decided to do something together. At the time, fashion wise, I was utilising a selection of clothes, and moustache style, and sunglass choice which, when combined, gave me a striking resemblance to Bernie, from the very famous film. I suggested to Dani that we should do our 10 minute spot with me being a corpse, and him trying to make a spot happen with me being a corpse. So we did, and Dani almost passed out from exhaustion. Then we did it again in Melbourne a few months later. This time I wasn’t such a dead weight. It had potential. Then one night Dani propositioned me about doing the Comedy Festival, and here we are.”
Cabs and Duncan met at Adelaide Fringe in 2015. Duncan was doing Calypso Nights and Cabs was doing Who is Dani Cabs?, both at The Tuxedo Cat, when Cabs partner at the time suggested a meet. Cabs explains: “She was consistently pointing out his poster to me saying “you got to meet this guy and see his show”. She felt we had a lot in common, and we did, look quite alike and we both play Latino characters (Juan Vesuvius and Poncho Orange). Anyways….one night early on in our runs, we were walking towards each other on a path at the Garden and our eyes met, the moon reflecting off Barnie’s emerald green eyes and at that moment I recognised him instantly and knew that, in some way or another, we would be hanging out more in the future. Two years later and we’re making a show together.
Cabs and Duncan have made the collaboration work even though they live in different states – Cabs in Brisbane and Duncan in Melbourne. Duncan talks about the long distance process for this show:
“So it started with Dani coming down to see me for a couple of days, hanging out, chewing chocolate, and us watching the film in a paddling pool on my back deck. Then we had great brainstorms. Then the next day we booked a space, and tried out lots of dead guy/alive guy slapstick with my pal Trygve outside eyeing us. We filmed that, looked over it, and figured out what worked. Next came the opening of a shared google doc! and right now I am up in Brisbane spending a week corpsing around in Dani’s personal yoga studio as we nut out the show. We do bits of writing, then get on the floor, then I pace around rubbing my belly.”
As most comedians will attest to, comedy is a tough gig. One sense of humour does not correlate with another so, given the fickle nature of a sense of humour, how difficult is it to create comedy?
“I find it very difficult,” says Cabs. “There are so many variables in the way to get you to a funny moment. Everything plays a role, my personal experiences, the audience’s, our energy levels, the space we’re in, everything. So I guess what I’m learning is to ensure I am ready to play and enjoy myself as a performer, to be sincere as possible, each show, in feeling who the audience are and what they are and aren’t enjoying. Doing those things makes it easier. Does that answer the question? What is fickle? I should goooogle it.”
Weekend at Barnie’s promises nostalgia, laughs and fun. Says Duncan: “Listen guys, we all know this movie is a classic. It’s probably in your top ten. Of course you want to go and see anything that has been inspired by this comedy masterpiece. And if by chance you haven’t seen this movie, then you need to come and see how one joke, one stoopid gag can be rung out like the dried out teat of an old Dutch dairy cow.”
April 13 – 23