By Jerome Studdy
Jeromaia Detto presented a smorgasbord of character driven sketch humour to the cramped full house of the Matchbox at The Factory Theatre; and this is arguably the best way to indulge in his one person show, “Canapes and Cocktails”. Detto’s comedy is a blissful melange of clowning, accents, carried gags, costume changes, and crowd working. From three French waiters, to Leonardo Da Vinci, to a safety inspector, to Sven, to Eugene, to a myriad of other characters, Detto effortlessly imbues each character with subtle individuality and exaggerated caricature.
Detto begins his show with a clever sketch involving three French waiters. Where one waiter exits, a new waiter enters, each just a little different from the last, and repeats a similar introduction; explaining that they are your number one waiter for the evening, and they will be back in “une minute” with your menu. The brilliance of this sketch is that it immediately establishes Detto’s style of vignette, character-shift humour, and begins to warm the crowd for plenty of audience interaction. The three waiters return twice more to punctuate the show, and neatly thread the entire arc.
Three of Detto’s other champion strengths are his vocalisation, setup and callback humour, and improvisational strategy. I’ve never been privy to a comedy act that had such a strong grasp on accents. Detto has clearly workshopped the accents and voices for each character to great effect, and has consistent and excellent vocal nuance. His ability to communicate through sound alone and elicit hilarious audience interaction is standout.
Comedians often use setup and callback humour to establish a gag and bring it back with new effect and tie their show together. Often it is the case that these gags are incredibly transparent and lose some of their punch. This is not the case for Detto, who performs a gag that is amusing in its own right, and transforms the setup for something else entirely. I hesitate to reveal his most intelligent gags, as they’re often the most charming part of the evening, but I will let you know that the cup one character hands you will be used for something else entirely by another character.
Finally, it is so important for a comedian who intends to interact with the audience to be prepared for heckling, unexpected responses, and unusual source material. Detto’s quick wit, and well considered audience interaction mean that he is always in control of the comedy and never strung out. One fine example was his ability to allow audience members to rip punchlines out from under his feet and transform it into a new comedic tangent.
The show was not without fault. Some technical mishaps were apparent, and the wings became cluttered, causing multiple trips from Detto each time he exited the stage. There were also times when the brightness of the stage lights left Detto squinting or shying away. It would also be fascinating to see the show again if the costume changes were more ambitious. In its current iteration, Detto shifts characters by the simple addition or removal of feature costume pieces. Crafting and pushing some more dramatic costume changes could really lift the energy of the show and just generally be very impressive if executed well.
If you do have the opportunity to see this show, buy your ticket, tie your napkin round your neck, loosen your belt, and get ready to be satisfied with this comedy feast. “Sven-you” Jeromaia Detto, it was a thoroughly entertaining night out.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.