By Lisa Clark
The world can be a confusing and harsh place, but that’s OK because here is Luis from Lessons with Luis to teach us all we need to know, like What is Love?, What is Character Comedy? and Where has Catty, Luis’s beloved cat, gone? This is Luis’ first solo show and it’s a wonderful learning experience.
The first Lesson’s with Luis show, Kidney Kingdom, blew Melbourne away, I remember coming out in a daze and Dave Thornton saying to me “What the hell was That?!” with a big grin on his face. It was like we’d all been trapped in a 90s timewarp, in the lounge room of a demented loving family and been hit over the head with some new kind of comedy. Unsurprisingly they won RAW and The Golden Gibbo that year. Luis was always the centre of the show but he was supported by his adoring widowed father Len and little brother Luellin, both of whom pop up here in videotaped cameos, with his dad playing an important role in the learning.
Beginning by drawing us in with free lollies and singing the gorgeous song “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, perpetual man-boy Luis takes us on a crazy ride through learning lessons, his own silly singalong/clapalong songs (mostly about cats), stories from his Dad and costumed characters like Paulie the Plant who grows with compliments. This is a surprisingly slick show, considering the use of cassette tapes and a tiny old portable TV. These add to the whole nostalgia vibe that has always been at the heart of Luis’ shows. All of the many sound cues and videotaped bits go off without a hitch. Luis has always been into multimedia and has got this down to a fine art.
Now Luis has finally got what he always wanted; his own solo Melbourne Comedy Festival Show, there was always a chance that there might be a dark megalomaniac monster hiding under the desperate, cheesy grins. But no, Luis just really just wants to give us the best show he can and he does, pulling out all the stops. Luis is a brilliantly realised character and as he runs around and begins to sweat I always wonder if he regrets the choice of jumper as his main performance garment.
There has always been a sadness underlying the Luis shows, with the loss of the mother hanging over the (fictitious) Brown family and this year there has been the (real) loss of their neighbour and friend Mr Bianchi but Luis has chosen to leave him out of the show while still managing to tribute him, in a way, for those in the know. This show seems to have been deliberately kept light-hearted, despite the hints that it might be going into darker places than it eventually does. Probably just as well, being a comedy festival show for the whole family, things are kept pretty sweet, loving and warm.
Like any comedian, Luis is desperate to be loved and you can’t help but love this adorable funny show. Especially if you love cats. We had a ball laughing and learning with Luis and you will too.
Lessons with Luis is showing at ACMI
for more information see the MICF website: