Certified genius or just plain certifiable?
For the uninitiated and the unprepared, putting yourself in the hands of Dutch absurdist Hans Teeuwen is a strange, hypnotic and unsettling experience. He strolls onto the stage looking like the clean shaven brother of Nick Cave and launches into the strangest tribute to Michael Jackson you are ever likely to bear witness to; yet this is just easing you into what comes next.
Teeuwen is a ‘cabaretier’, a Dutch tradition whereby the performer is a one man cabaret as opposed to straightforward stand-up. The show itself is a combination of non-sequiturs, musical interludes, theatre of the grotesque and what appears more like performance art than comedy, all of which is punctuated with random sounds and accompanying facial tics. While it appears ridiculous and unfocused there is no question that there is a fierce intelligence at work behind it all. He claims his comedy is apolitical and that he doesn’t want to ‘give people a message’ but a section where he repeats the word ‘jew’ then ‘muslim’ while experimenting with tone and challenging our reaction each time is most definitely social commentary.
Teeuwen is no stranger to members of his audience walking out confused and/or disgusted (tonight is no exception) but he readily admits that he’s trying to challenge the concepts and boundaries of what comedy is and this makes for fascinating and sometimes uncomfortable viewing. Highly provocative, the show at times does indeed border on the genius but there is also more than a hint of self-indulgence and gratification going on. Whatever your take, it’s certainly an experience that will stay with you even if not entirely as a positive memory.
Udderbelly’s Pasture, 0844 545 8252, 26–28 Aug, 11.35pm, £14.50 (£12.50).