Clip Art Cowboy is a late runner to jump up to the top of my favourite shows of MICF 2019. WOW, this is a stunning show from Michael Williams. It tells one story, he and his wife went to America on holiday and found themselves caught up in the Las Vegas mass shooting. Still the biggest mass shooting America has seen. It’s dark and very funny.
Each year Michael’s shows are full of surprises and better than I think they will be. One of his earliest shows about Abraham Lincoln was so good that it made me sit up. Anyone who could make a 19th century American President into such a hilarious, memorable Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, really had a unique talent. Then 2016’s An Evening With Michael Williams (Who is Trapped under a Boulder) that had Michael doing his PowerPoint and musical numbers with one arm trapped under a boulder which suddenly, halfway through, came to life as a puppet (voiced by Jack Druce) was so brilliant that I feel sorry for everyone that didn’t get to see it. I now make Michael a regular addition to my festival calendar and he has never let me down, but Clip Art Cowboy is a Festival Must-See.
Michael Williams is famous for visual comedy using lo-fi digital graphics and pop culture references. He started his career doing big notepad drawings then moved to PowerPoint. The tech in Clip Art Cowboy is ,unsurprisingly, impressive and spot on. A highlight for me was a spoof of an online crafting video. He’s also been gradually adding Vaudeville style song and dance numbers to his shows, he’s no Fred Astaire but entertaining none the less.
Michael’s opening musical number is, as always, a thigh slapping crowd-pleaser. “Tragedy Plus Time” sets the tone of comedy being borne from dark subject matter and has the audience gasping. Yet the show itself is mostly pretty light and funny, with lots of songs, stories and silliness on the road through the tale of Michael’s dream trip to America with friends. Find out what nerds get up to in Vegas! Check out his Fidget Spinner tricks! Gradually some dark portents gather and we get glimpses of the villain readying his plans while our hapless heroes enjoy their holiday oblivious.
Michael’s comedy is so adorably daggy and he’s so self-deprecating, he tends to be a very under-rated Festival comedian. I cannot recommend this enough. Michael is a brilliant story teller, Clip Art Cowboy is chilling, and silly, and brutal and adorable. A story that will live with me for a long time.
Michael Williams performs Clip Art Cowboy at Trades Hall at 9.30pm