Randy Writes A Novel

By Daniel Paproth Randy-Writes-a-Novel

Most everyone who has even a passing interest in comedy knows Randy – the purple, foul-mouthed, philosophic puppet that has long accompanied Sammy J on his adventures and misadventures – most brilliantly in their new ABC TV show Rickett’s Lane. But few might be aware at how well Randy holds the attention of a room flying solo.

At a packed Lithuanian Club Ballroom on Sunday night Randy held sway over the audience, making us laugh, squirm, applaud and even sit on the edge of our seats, waiting to see which direction this 60+ minute show would turn next. The loose premise is that Randy, something of a struggling artist, has written a novel, and here, in front of this crowd, he will read it aloud to us. Except, he just can’t quite get going. Writing can be quite personal, and it appears Randy isn’t yet ready to spill his heart out in front of people. So what, then, becomes of the show?

Luckily, all the rants and raves smashing around in that purple head of Randy’s that he uses to procrastinate from reading his novel are brilliant – hilarious, whip-smart, quick-witted and impressively well-researched. After swiftly dealing with some would-be hecklers – including one fellow Fringe artist in the front row (“Did you pay to see this show or did you use your artist pass?” “My artist pass” “Ohh get fucked”) Randy delves into the maddening complaints of the bourgeoisie; from buying up land in inner-city suburbs (“Docklands can suck a fuck”) to meat-eaters who condescendingly provide “some fun facts” for vegetarians and vegans as to why their dietary choices must suck. Other hilarious detours include the benefits of being pulled over for drink-driving as a tee-totaller, McDonald’s home delivery, the tenets of Buddhism packed into about two minutes and the life of Ernest Hemingway into about three minutes (Hemingway’s “the first draft of everything is shit” being one of the show’s inspiration points).

It is a strange experience watching only a puppet for an hour. I have seen plenty of comedy over the years but nothing quite like this – and it is a testament to Randy that after about two or three minutes you forget that it is a puppet, such is the skill. Robust facial and body expressions abound and at many points you just feel like you’re in a conversation with your overly-enthusiastic, curse-happy friend. Swearing in comedy shows is of course hit-and-miss, but it’s all hit here. There is something inherently funny about an alien-looking purple puppet casually, effortlessly dropping f- and c-bombs around.

The show could use tightening. The rants – while well-researched and well-delivered – threaten to go on to long and put the show into something of a lull, and the search for a resonant emotional ending doesn’t quite hit the mark, but it matters little with a very strong penultimate scene about Randy picking up a bookcase through Gumtree. Highly Recommended.

Randy Writes A Novel is on til Sept 25 so get in quick!

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