Xenethor – Truth and Ultraviolence

By Colin Flaherty.

Exploring the mysteries of life in a subtle, quiet manner, you would expect to find this show in the performance category of the Fringe or Next Wave festivals. In a comedy festival however, it is entirely out of place.

The show features three segments that are cycled through during the performance. One is waxing philosophical while seated at a “piano” while sweet melancholy music plays. With Xenethor’s soft spoken nature it is often difficult to hear him over the music, but his words tell rambling stories that don’t go to anywhere in particular and only contain the merest hint of humour.

He next stands on the stage with a microphone telling “jokes” which are once again, due to his quiet, rambling speech patterns and poor microphone skills, a struggle to decipher. He has some interesting (and definitely strange) ideas in there but they are often incomplete and presented poorly. There are a few glimmers of hope with some lines looking as if they are leading somewhere, but our expectations of a punchline are dashed as they trail off into the ether or end suddenly.

One clear example of his lack of comedic structuring is a sequence of layered puns. This could have worked had he not tried to get blatantly meta about it. He pointed out the premise from the top and explained every line instead of letting it come out naturally and THEN point out the cleverness.

Xenethor occasionally giggled at his own lines so he must have had some confidence in his material, but the punters couldn’t get on his wavelength. It was as if he was expecting his strange, alien persona to be enough to carry the humour of the show, but the audience found him impenetrable with an inability to engage with others.

The third phase of this cycle was a collection of beautiful animated films that were occasionally silly but usually poignant and sad. We were disappointed to learn that they were not of his hand but the work of a friend as they were the highlight of the show.

For all I know this is a work of extreme Anti-Comedy, but it seems only Xenethor and his friends are in on the joke (as indicated by the deathly silent audience). Having never taken any illicit substances I cannot tell whether this type of show would appeal to Stoners, although its contemplative nature suggests that it might. Similarly it is hard to tell whether this is all one elaborate and expensive practical joke (given the deception of the “live piano” and his friend’s video work). What I can confidently say is that this show won’t appeal to a comedy crowd looking for laughs.

Xenethor – Truth and Ultraviolence is on at Revolt