Review by Kate Gaul
One thing that you can’t escape in Edinburgh is stand-up comedy. It’s everywhere. So, I thought I should go check some out. “Welcome to the Big Show” isn’t the kind of comedy where some guy pulls you off the street into a bar promising big laughs. I’d describe this event as arty comedy. “Welcome to the Big Show” is performed by reformed stand-up comedian Gara Lonning and is advertised as a “love letter to unique families, queer self-discovery and devoted fathers”.
What we get is some excellent lip synching, sensational dancing, interpretive movement, and verbal story telling. Yes, there are jokes too. On further investigation I discover Gara is known for dance-based performance art. He also works as a writer, comedian, and podcast maker. This show trawls through some family relationship stuff like the jealousy for his twin brother’s prowess as a principal in high school musical theatre while Gara was relegated to townsperson; admiration for his father who amongst other things was an amateur wrestling coach; and a mother who Gara clearly doesn’t like much. We are taken on a tour of the American Midwest to NYC, through 1970s cinema, male song writing, the 80s and (my favorite) John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Jack and Dianne”. Who says nostalgia is dead?
A little ditty 'bout Jack & Diane Two American kids growing up in the heart land Jack, he's gonna be a football star Diane's debutante, back seat of Jacky's car.
We were a small house; we could have exchanged phone numbers. Gara was gracious and gave it everything. Talented, engaging and cool. Get along and check out what the cool kids from NYC are doing!