Lessons with Luis : By Myself

By Elyse Philips

After two successful shows performing with his family, Luis Brown from Lessons with Luis is stepping out on his own for the first time (ably assisted by his crew, aka little brother Luelin). In By Myself, we get to know the real Luis as he tries his hand at stand-up comedy. There’s singing, storytelling and Seinfeld-esque gags, all of which are bad in the best possible way.

Once again the Lessons with Luis gang have created a wonderful show that’s not quite like anything else this festival. Beneath the dad jokes, home-made props and op-shop finds is a bittersweet story about family that sneaks up on you and grabs at your heart.

Despite being a solo act this year, there are still appearances from the extended family via video – we get a gloriously rambling welcome from Len and some basic Spanish lessons from Mr Bianchi. The show is more of a variety night than straight stand-up. Luis’ short bursts of jokes are interspersed with daggy tracks from the cassette player and a bizarre story acted out with assorted toys and cardboard props.

Luis is masterfully awkward in his special stand-up comedy outfit, shuffling around the stage like the world’s most terrified song and dance man. Luelin is the perfect foil to Luis’ attention-seeking, not cracking a smile for the entire show and staring at audience members for just that little bit too long. The dynamic between the two of them has really been amplified in ‘By Myself’ and it works beautifully. There’s a new level of tension that tests the boundaries of what’s funny, which is incredibly rewarding.

‘By Myself’ is remarkably refined piece of clumsiness. It’s everything you loved about their previous shows distilled into a purer form. If you’re a fan of Lessons of Luis, you shouldn’t miss it. This is their best work yet.

By Myself is on at the Tuxedo Cat until April 20