November 30, 2016
Rare it is that you turn up to a show expecting so little and end up loving it so much.
Bill Bailey, to most people probably known for his starring role in award-winning sitcom Black Books and as a panel show regular on "Never Mind the Buzzcocks," is a comedian, talented musician, writer and actor who – along with other accomplishments - has created his own distinctive brainy brand of stand-up comedy fusing jokes with musical interludes and parodies, extended monologues and borderline surreal tangents.
Apart from being a narrative-driven, seasoned entertainer who wears on his sleeve that the English performance poet John Hegley was a major inspiration in his formative years; Bailey is also an avid advocate of the flora and fauna: Being a patron of the International Animal Rescue, the author of a book on British Birds and the “Nepenthes Bill Bailey” being a pitcher plant named in his honour, are only few examples.
He has also been somewhat stigmatized as a “leftie funnyman” by his home country for taking a political stance when he supported Brown and the Labour Party in 2010 – a derisive label that impacted on his perception by fellow, especially conservative Englishmen and finds his way into his current show numerous times.
His “Larks in Transit” show that brought him to Oceania is an endearing, whimsical free-form and playful compendium of anecdotes, general shenanigans of twenty years as a traveling comedian and both subversive and hilarious musings on the big questions in life – politics, pursuit of happiness, philosophy and how to craft a future techno classic from random noises, play "Smoke on the Water" on cowbells and create a symphonic masterpiece based on an annoying ring tone.
He seamlessly transitions from political jokes via observational humour to spontaneous exchanges spawned by hecklers or surprising (i.e. plainly weird) repartees from audience interactions.
Bailey does not suffer fools gladly, yet abstains from foul lingo or blatant sarcasm.
What makes him compelling is that however absurd his angles might be, they are solidly grounded on moral and intellectual beliefs, which are his raison d’être.
His musical and playful interludes are funny and truly enjoyable on a variety of levels – based on his immense talent as a multi-instrumentalist and his engaging demeanor.
From the moment Bailey enters the stage he is completely in control and has the audience in the palm of his hand:
While his commentary on the political landscape and recent changes in the Anglo-centric world at the beginning of the show was lower hanging fruit yet nonetheless met with overly boisterous laughter, it segued after 20 minutes into a performance that was both heart warming and hilarious.
What elevates Bailey’s show above the merely enjoyable is the fact that he is a skilled communicator and the remarkable musicianship that accompanies his razor sharp wit.