Another month in Cheltenham means another festival. I was particularly excited about The Hobgoblin Cheltenham Comedy Festival. My university had rallied the troops to watch ‘The Boy With Tape On His Face’ at the Parabola Arts Centre. As soon as we found our seats, I realised no one was safe.
New Zealand’s Sam Wills, oozed stage presence as he bumbled around the stage prior to the show. The gagged prop comic, was a Mary Poppins of props, his grey shoulder bag never endlessly producing items of what seemed insignificance. His character of Tape Face is second to none than those of his characters he created from such everyday objects. Simplistic combinations of movements, music and items convince you into seeing a complex puppet. Ingenious.
Looking back on older clips of his work, you can see Wills has really refined his act. He gives meaning to every tiny element of his work, a chuckle accompanies every movement or flicker of the eyes. To be able to manipulate an audience by doing so little takes incredible talent. His comedic timing should not go unrecognised, clearly a
n expert at his trade, he has it down to a fine art.
The show in itself is inexplicably random, wonderfully ridiculous and downright barmy. Based around keeping boredom at bay until show time, the sporadic sequence of skits needs no structure as each section stands alone from the others. His comedy all has on thing in common, the unknown. He keeps the audience in the dark, you don’t catch on till last second, and then simultaneously the theatre erupts into roars of laughter as realisation floods the room and you are invited into his bonkers world once more. This juxtaposed with the blank expression and lack of communication pouring out of Tape Face keeps you on your toes. As well as being on the edge of your seat to see what he is doing, and w
hat magic he will create, you are also attempting to hide and sink into the crowd, hiding from his gaze should he choose you as a ‘willing helper’. Most were in fact that, willing, but he had to be prepared to deal with some awkward ones. And in the end, it seemed to be the people who went along with having a toilet seat round their neck that looked less stupid…
I rang my parents up the next day and commanded they bought ticket for when he arrived in their home town. This unique comedian will have each member, no matter the age, wiping tears of laughter away.
Catch him on his tour: http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/The-Boy-with-Tape-On-His-tickets/artist/1569383