Dry humour and awkward tension make for a hilarious night with Deadpan
(Photo: the Swanston Gazette)
For comedy lovers, Nathan Hugh Robért and James G Warren’s Deadpan duo is a great show to see at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
As veteran comedians, the comedians are testing out their material for the first time at this years’ Festival, and with jokes described as “dryer than the Sahara desert”, their show certainly delivers.
Hidden within the city, the pair perform almost every night during the festival’s run at Bard’s Apothecary - a quaint, cozy bar in Melbourne’s inner-city side streets.
The energy in the small bar is palpable. With no comedian or stage in sight, you may wonder if you’re even in the right place.
After being led down a small set of stairs, an enclosed, dimly lit bunker is revealed - the stage.
With minimal décor, harsh spotlight and little space between audience and performer. The set-up creates an uncomfortably intimate atmosphere, perfect for Robért and Warren to thrive in.
Robert opens the hour-long show, jumping from loosely connected ideas – John Wayne, haemorrhoid cream, and capitalism – delivering absurd takes with emotionless, stoic precision.
He uses awkward silences, long pauses between words and even audience reactions during his set to create a classic deadpan effect.
As audiences adjust to his unique style of comedy, the uncertainty in the room disappears and laughter erupts after each witty comment from Robért.
If you’re a comedy lover but cringe at audience interactions, don’t worry - Robért finished his set without a single word from the crowd.
Chatting with Robert after the show, he describes his dry humour as something many people enjoy, but he tries to add his own flair through surrealism and absurdity.
“It’s kind of the contradiction of saying something silly and not reacting the way you should,” Robért said.
“You're saying crazy things but in a not necessarily monotone but deadpan way… I try to create tension by the space and silence.”
James G Warren followed Robért’s set. Although fitting in the same type of comedy category as Robért, he has a distinctly different style.
Nathan Hugh Robért (left) and James G Warren’s (right) Deadpan duo is a great show to see at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival (Photo: the Swanston Gazette)
He eased the crowd into the quick change of humour by making several bee-themed jokes, much to the crowd’s confusion and delight.
His material focused on domestic aspects of everyday life and finding new ways to look at them, creating easily relatable concepts for the audience to be in on the joke.
Warren particularly likes to draw out his sentences, with his careful comedic timing bordering on awkwardness - but making for a lot of laughs.
“I think it’s fine to have tension as long as we have release. The tension definitely adds to the punch of the punch,” Warren said.
The pair, although a seemingly strange one, are a perfect match for this Deadpan show.
Both have distinctly different material and delivery, but after watching both their sets, their individuality creates cohesiveness.
The pair’s comedy just makes sense.
Robert and Warren will continue their show until April 22 at Bard’s Apothecary.
To experience the awkwardly hilarious show, visit: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2023/shows/deadpan