Larry Dean – FUDNUT

By Jess Welch

Have you ever been on a rollercoaster, or just a particularly bumpy bit of road, and it feels like your stomach has dropped out? That’s the feeling that FUDNUT, Larry Dean’s latest show, left me with. But that’s the end. To understand how we got there, we need to go back to the beginning.

The show starts off with some intense moments of getting to know Dean. If you’ve never seen him before, this might be slightly confronting. But it does a wonderful job of setting us up for what he does best – telling wild, crazy and hilarious stories from his life. If you have seen him before, you’ll know these tales can really run the gamut from everyday observations to the incredibly personal. Vulnerable even. FUDNUT tend heavily towards the latter, to an almost uncomfortable degree at times.

Be warned, this show touches on some sexual themes. At a few particular moments, the older members of the audience were shifting uncomfortably. I would say this is probably not a show to see with a parent, unless you have an extremely honest relationship, or you don’t mind some awkward silences on the way home. But those moments aren’t gratuitous and they fit in well with the overall tone of vulnerability. They don’t dominate the show by any means.

The stories weave around and through each other, seemingly at random. There are asides off the asides. Don’t worry though, Dean knows what he’s doing. This is far from his first rodeo. Having seen him before, I was willing to sit back, relax and trust we were in good hands. And we were. There is a reveal in the last few minutes of the show that will leave you reeling, rethinking everything you have thought for the last hour. Of course, I won’t spoil it here, nor do I think you should try to find any answers online before you go. Because the moment of realisation and reflection is breathtaking.

I wish I could see the show again, but knowing casts everything into a different light. All his stories, the strange titbits, the vulnerability, suddenly all perfect sense and slot together to form a truly incredible puzzle you didn’t even know he was building. It’s beautiful. It’s mind-blowingly well written and leaves you thinking, long after the show is finished. The more you think, the more you’ll realise and it’ll impress you all over again.

This isn’t a show for everyone. But if you’re intrigued or on the fence, I highly recommend you give it a chance. I highly doubt you’ll regret it.


Larry Dean – Bampot

By Jess Welch 

Festival favourite Larry Dean is back for his third year in a row, with yet another spectacular show, Bampot. In addition to being incredibly funny, this show is also a personal and at times melancholic one. It is a show where the audience walks away sore from laughing, but aching from the familiarity of a strangers experiences. Maybe even with a tear or two in your eye.

If you have seen Dean before, you will likely be familiar with the characters in his life, including but not limited to, his kindly mother and his Australian boyfriend, Luke. This year dives a little deeper into his past, pulling the audience in, making it feel as though it’s not a stand up show at all, rather an intimate chat between friends.

Though a little funnier than the average catch up with friends, you leave feeling as if you know more about Dean and perhaps about yourself. Any youngest child will empathise with some of the themes and anyone who has ever been in a relationship will see themselves in others. In that way, this show is revealing of not just Dean, but everyone.

Dean ties together the stories from his childhood to tales more recent with the skills of a master weaver. Some tales are whimsical and others thought provoking, but the audience is riveted to each one equally. The moments of wistfulness are quickly followed by silliness and a touch of smut, flipping the mood of the audience in a second. It’s an incredible talent and Dean just gets better, year after year.

The dissection of the various facets of romantic relationships is easily recognisable to anyone who’s ever been in one and there were more than a few couples nudging each other, as if to say “that’s you”. It’s always wonderful to see performers connect with an audience in those ways and Dean does it with such ease.

I left from this show incredibly moved and I can’t see how anyone couldn’t. Dean plays on the nostalgia of childhood with a master touch. It may not have been the story Dean wanted to tell, but it’s an amazing show nonetheless.

Bampot is on at ACMI til Apr 21