Baron Muncahusen wrote a dissertation on the nature of fabulism which has been adapted to everything from movies to action figures. Paul Verhoeven brings his interpretive dance version to the comedy festival.

This isn’t true, of course, but I do like stories. Tell Me Lies is the latest show by Paul Verhoeven, Triple J announcer, host of the game show Steam Punks, and co-host of the gaming podcast 28 Plays Later. Tell Me Lies is a performance of stand-up comedy that goes to interesting places as Verhoeven shifts gears from comic to charming raconteur. There is a narrative through line that strengthens the structure and allows for a pretty neat Wellesian two-step. And on top of this, the white sneakers were so brilliant that they could only be a signifier of the cherubim.

Paul Verhoeven was open and warm and the connection was such that after the show I greeted him as if we had been friends for years. Oops. The performance space at Northcote Town Hall was a large space intended for experimental dance. The space seemed pretty intimidating at first but Paul was able to close the gap, almost as soon as he walked on, and we were soon enchanted by his many lies.

At the start of the performance he seemed to be gauging the audience. Some jokes worked, others didn’t, and this was a method to find where to pitch the performance. Even the jokes that probably didn’t work were saved by his practiced and unaffected delivery. With energy that was barely contained, Paul was so personable that we were entirely on his side from the first moment. During this crowd measuring section, which also had the most traditional stand-up, any jokes that didn’t work were acknowledged by Paul and quickly moved over for the next one. He was confident and he knew what he was doing and that allowed the audience to go along with him.

Once the show proper started there was a move away from ‘set-up-punchline’ humour to recalling moments of lying throughout his life. This was funny and near-perfect pitch but more interesting, for me, was the question of which part of the stories were lies. It became apparent very quickly that even the direct story about lying could possibly have been a lie. This framework of lies within lies was contained within absolute and very honest truth. Perhaps.

Tell Me Lies is a clever night of energetic comedy and engaging storytelling. Paul’s charisma fills the room and he sure knows how to tell an entertaining lie.  And those shoes.

 

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