If the current crop of confronting Worksafe ads is anything to go by, it would seem that safety in the workplace is no laughing matter. We’ve all seen them: people falling off roofs, getting limbs cut off in sawing accidents and getting electrocuted by poorly labeled electrical sockets.
Fortunately Tim Lock (Dylan Cole) is here at the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival to educate audiences about “safe safety” and “hazardous hazards” in the workplace with an informative and entertaining 50-minute “senimar.” Anyone who has ever worked in an office and gone through the emergency procedures (or, better yet, donned the high-vis vest themselves) is bound to get a kick out of it.
Cole is a gifted performer and character actor with a brand of comedy not too dissimilar from that of Chris Lilley, in that he has created an engaging and well-observed character who is, more often than not, the butt of the joke. Whether it’s being unable to spell audience suggestions or performing the various alert sirens himself after the tape conks out, it is Cole’s energy and charismatic stage presence that shines though in Safety First. The show (or “senimar”) is neatly tied together with a clever Powerpoint presentation that showcases some very funny visual gags as well.
Some missteps include a couple of recurring gags that grow tedious by the second half and a jarring “tea and biscuit break” for the audience in the middle, that serves neither character nor narrative, interrupts the flow of an already short performance (and Lock hogged all Monte Carlos!) Nonetheless it is the attention to character (shown predominantly through some ‘aside’ telephone calls to his family), that saves Safety First from being merely a series of flimsy Worksafe gags and with Cole at the helm, ironically, we couldn’t have been in safer hands.