Brisbane Comedy Festival Review: Garry Starr: Greece Lightning revels in its witty, smutty irreverence

Have you ever wanted to hear an explicit rap about the incestual ways of ancient Greek figures set to the tune of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”? Or how about The Little Mermaid‘s “Under the Sea” as a spoken word piece, all the while its performer is donned in a mermaid tail being glistened by an attending audience member adorned with a spraying water bottle? You know, even if you haven’t, my guess will be you’ll want to after hearing that such unabashed – and, honestly, oddly arousing – entertainment takes place in Garry Starr: Greece Lightning, a 60-minute one-man show aimed at once at heightening the interest in visiting Greece and lowering the bar on subtlety and good taste.

Created by Australian actor Damien Warren-Smith, Garry Starr is his own oddball character – a well-meaning, mostly scrappy, not-entirely-clothed performer – who takes the tourism and economic hit of his Greek homeland to heart.  Wanting his unsuspecting audience to feel encouraged to visit Greece (or, as he continually pronounces it, Greek) he takes it upon himself to perform all of Greek Mythology in less than 60 minutes.  What could possibly go wrong?

Playing into the awkward nature of a performer thinking on their feet in real time, Warren-Smith’s Garry always feels like even he doesn’t know what’s going to happen, yet, as his first show at the Brisbane Comedy Festival proved, the only uncertainty comes from whether or not his audience will receive him as openly as he does us.  Yes, Greece Lightning is an audience participation-type show, but it’s not in that cringeworthy, overtly embarrassing way that many comedy shows adhere to in their best bid to humiliate the crowd.  The butt of every joke is solely on Garry, and if you find yourself lucky enough to be a supporting player in his show, you’ll be thankful you surrendered to the absolute joy that is watching a grown man let you both throw gloved punches and plush stakes at his head.

On the mention of butts, Greece Lightning doesn’t shy away from its share of nudity – Brisbane Powerhouse even slap the show with an 18+ rating – so if the male body in all its naked glory stirs something in you other than the intended reaction, you’ve been warned that the climax (no pun intended) delivers exactly what you’d expect a profane-laced comedy show detailing the violent and sexual deviances of ancient Greece to do.

Given that the arts took some of the biggest hits that the pandemic was able to swing, the very fact we can see live comedy shows again is a miracle in itself, and Garry Starr: Greece Lightning, and by extension the Brisbane Comedy Festival itself, is a testament to the weird and wonderful creativity that’s allowed to thrive again.  These past 18 months have proven more than ever that nothing is guaranteed, so why not take 60 minutes out of your night, nestle in to an intimate theatre, and enjoy an irreverent show that’s equally witty as it is smutty, hosted by an endearing performer who revels in leaving nothing to the imagination.

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

You can see Garry Starr: Greece Lightning at Brisbane Powerhouse as part of Brisbane Comedy Festival (27th April – 29th May, 2022) running 10th-15th May, 2022.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.

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