Stuart Daulman – Into the Galaxy

By Nick Bugeja

Stuart Daulman has laboured away on comedy stages and rooms at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) for nearly as long as some of his audience members have been alive. He’s a versatile and talented comic performer whose passion and commitment to the form is evident in his latest show, Into the Galaxy, an engrossing foray into an intergalactic world inhabited by Daulman’s cast of characters, not least himself. As it develops, you realise the show is less about a whimsical space story and more a self-examination of Daulman’s personal and professional aspirations, anxieties and convictions.

In this fictional world, Daulman had become an astronaut, and he’s setting out on a mission to space, in the company of an artificial intelligence computer much like HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey (minus the malice and malevolence). His take-off and journey into space from the comfort of his spaceship is pre-recorded, and displayed on a projector. These sequences give structure to the show, and serve the incident purpose of giving Daulman enough time to change between the well-curated costumes for each of his characters.

The first of these is 12-year-old Daulman, then a South African resident of ‘Jozi’ with dreams of entering into space. Daulman winds back the clock when playing his younger self, and executes a perfect South African (or rather, South Efrican) accent. A surprise cameo from former President Nelson Mandela makes for great, good-natured comedy, characteristic of the entire show.

Daulman’s other sketch performances—as a self-promoting businessman who he’d encountered at astronaut school, practicing his golf swing, and an alien suspended in space—were equally relished by the audience. The entire performance was marked by the thought and work—evidenced by each gesture, facial expression, staging choice, costume, and joke—Daulman had invested to create a funny, personal and reflective show.

Into the Galaxy is a breath of fresh air at MICF, amid a catalogue of largely
homogeneous stand-up performances. It’s a living and breathing performance by a man clearly passionate about the arts, comedy and performance, and delivers a steady stream of laughs throughout. Stuart Daulman is a comic workhorse whose preferred genre of comedy may not enjoy the widest appeal, though it should.

Into the Galaxy is on at the Victoria Hotel until 21 April.