By Jayden Edwards
Since coming runner up in Triple J’s Raw Comedy competition and debuting at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2006, Tommy Dassalo has pushed himself: dabbling in theatrics, illustrations, voice-overs and complex story telling. But its in his new show that he takes on his biggest challenge yet.
He’s a young, baby faced, squeaky voiced, self proclaimed “Little Buddy” to all and believe it or not, Cancer survivor. Yep, as a young child, Tommy was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and spent much of his childhood in hospital, and it’s this that Tommy ambitiously chose to source material for his new comedy festival show “Pipsqueak”.
Performing to a small Wednesday night crowd at Brisbane’s Powerhouse Theatre minus his desired backing artwork that Officeworks fucked up, Tommy jumps onto stage and dives into some casual stand up and banter, then drops the C bomb… (Cancer, not that other word). The audience is taken aback at first and things are a little uncomfortable but, like ripping off a band-aid, the worst part is over and the show comes into it’s own.
Tommy cleverly structures the show around a few letters he wrote and received during his childhood. It’s these letters that produce some of the more sobering moments of the show, and some great comedic opportunities to riff off little Tommy’s apparent naivety during the whole ordeal (like totally screwing up his Make-a-wish!). Tommy masterfully uses light and shade throughout the show, brilliantly using the darker moments to surprise attack the audience with punchlines.
The heavy subject matter of the show was risky, and to revisit and retell this story mustn’t have been easy for Tommy, let alone to an audience night after night. But with comic timing and story telling skills well above his years, the underlying trauma just adds a whole lot of heart and soul to an hilarious story based show.
Tommy’s style of stand up and mannerisms are not dissimilar to that of Micheal Chamberlin. On stage he’s quick, witty, confident and just so bloody likeable. He really is ‘the little buddy that could’, sure to be a highlight of this years festival, and in years to come.
Reviewed at Brisbane Comedy Festival
Performing at Melbourne International Comedy Festival
at Victoria Hotel – Acacia Room
215 Lt Collins St, Melbourne
29 March – 22 April
Click here for tickets and more infomation