Ross Purdy’s Apocaparty Destruct-a-thon: Presented by Demente Grande Variety Hour

By Colin FlahertyApocalparty

Apocaparty Destruct-a-thon: Presented by Demente Grande Variety Hour. The title alone had me intrigued in Ross Purdy’s show and the blurb in the guide accurately sums up what you can expect; a “hot soup of existential dread and bizarre stupidity”.

This show explores the concepts of failure, crushed dreams and parental disappointment. These themes are fertile territory for comedy but Purdy often struggles to find the funny. He discusses his character’s mental issues rather dryly to the odd nervous titter so he had to resort to graphic turns of phrase and extreme self-deprecation to get most of the laughs. With these topics you would expect to see some sort of interesting character arc, but this is not the case as the aforementioned existential dread quashes any such notions. Aside from repeatedly pounding us with the fact that life is shit he doesn’t seem to be telling us anything else let alone offer any solutions.

An awful lot of his show is weirdness just for the sake of it. While this sits nicely with his theme of mental illness it lacks cleverness and employs absolutely no subtlety. There’s plenty of gross out humour that’s quite puerile and garners guilty chuckles. The biggest reactions he gets are from the many acts of self-flagellation which tend to be more awkward than laugh out loud (although the sadists in the crowd would say otherwise). You have to pay very close attention to follow the storyline buried amongst all the madness. His jumping between disparate thoughts may have been an appropriate way to demonstrate a breakdown on stage but it was difficult to sit through. In a similar manner, the finale to this performance is a rambling affair with numerous false endings dragging things out unnecessarily.

Performance wise, this is very messy. He regularly fumbles through a box of props which is distracting and the performance space ends up as an apt pigsty. Purdy uses a lot of pre-recorded dialogue to react to and generally does a good job of it but the effects heavy voices are often difficult to decipher particularly when combined with a musical soundtrack. Similarly his monologues go from quiet mumbling to shouting; again appropriate for the character but difficult to comprehend. He certainly has a distinct and unique voice, and commits wholeheartedly to selling this show but it’s a shame that his delivery can be so impenetrable.

One aspect I found intriguing and amusing were a number of moments self-critiquing his own performance while having digs at comedic conventions. His acknowledgement to the audience that he is well aware that this is all a bit of a shemozzle is cute but doesn’t really make things any more palatable.

While certainly a wild ride, this Apocaparty seems happy to wallow in the gutter rather than reach for the stars. If the humour of humiliation appeals you may find something to tickle your fancy but those hoping for something more coherent and substantial will find it a bit too much to cope with.

Apocaparty Destruct-a-thon: Presented by Demente Grande Variety Hour is on at Pleasance House Comedy until April 17