Paul Verhoeven – Tell Me Lies

By Elyce Phillips Paul Verhoeven

From a young age, Paul Verhoeven has been a compulsive liar. He has lied to his parents, his classmates, and even to himself. In Tell Me Lies, Verhoeven makes his stand-up debut, talking about the origins of his untruthful ways. His tall tales are funny, weird and endlessly entertaining.

Verhoeven is no stranger to live comedy. He has previously performed as one quarter of sketch group Lords of Luxury. This show is new territory, however, as much of the material in Tell Me Lies is personal. We hear the story of his first lie, at the age of 11, and are treated to an entry from his childhood diary – a document that is more fantasy than biography. Verhoeven also speaks to the problems that can arise from being honest, telling a truly awkward story about the time he opened up to a partner about what he wanted in the bedroom.

Verhoeven is ridiculously likeable and brings the energy of a whole barrel of extremely excited puppies to the stage. His trips up in his delivery every now and then, and there’s an occasional groan-worthy punchline, but you can’t help being swept up by his infectious enthusiasm. For a show about lies, Verhoeven does a good job of sounding honest, even in some of his more extraordinary stories. The show is well-constructed, with a continuing thread about his relationship with his brother providing some grounding and depth.

Tell Me Lies is an impressive and confident first foray into stand-up comedy. Verhoeven has a knack for storytelling, striking a balance between whimsy and reality to create a thoroughly hilarious show.

A note for parents – while Verhoeven may be great with the kids on Steam Punks, this is definitely not a show for the young ones, so best leave them at home.

Paul Verhoeven – Tell Me Lies is on at Northcote Town Hall until April 18

The Lords of Luxury

By Elyce Phillips

4-piece sketch group Lords of Luxury successfully made the transition from podcasts to live performance last year.  Now they have honed their stage skills and give us this silly, weird and very shouty offering.

The Lords (Paul Verhoeven, Luke Ryan, Dan Debuf and Matt Saracini) attack their hour with infectious manic enthusiasm.  Their constant excitement floods the venue and you can’t help but get swept up in it. The atmosphere they create is fantastic. From the moment a snaggletoothed robot introduced the gents, the audience was on board. Sections involving audience participation were handled deftly. There was not a dull moment to be found.

The sketches are diverse and often absurd.  The Lords whip from the Titanic, to a film production office, to a magic show. The pace does not let up. Though all the sketches hit the mark, by far the highlight of the evening was the dramatic recreation of a sci-fi/action/romance/adventure story, written by Ryan when he was 14. Verhoeven’s turn as a wavy-haired, angular-featured alien beauty is quite possibly the funniest thing I’ve seen this month.

The Lords, though all great performers in their own right, are at their best as a team. They look like they’re genuinely having a great time messing around up on stage and it really adds to energy of the sketches. There’s just something so wonderful about seeing grown men in tuxedos being utterly ridiculous. It’s an absolute joy to watch these guys do their thing.

I highly recommend Lords of Luxury. The show is downright bizarre and tear-enducingly funny.  In what is proving to be an excellent year for sketch comedy, the Lords of Luxury are right up there with the best of them. It’s worth the price of admission to see the alien nightclub scene alone. Consider the rest a hilarious bonus.

Lords of Luxury is showing in the Bookroom at Trades Hall until April 20.