Dave Bloustein, a self professed ‘nice comedian’ and award-winning comedy writer with accolades for work with Good News Week, The Glass House, and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Great Debates, now presents his new show The Social Contract, which has been also recently been recognised with a Moose Head Award. The Social Contract details Bloustein’s recent professional career, where he went against the niggling little alarm bells and became involved in a small-time gig at a high school function. The event itself surprisingly provided the perfect ledge to take a professional leap from grace, since he is put through a serious of hilarious events ending up with Bloustein in court, being sued for not being funny.
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival show by Dave Bloustein, The Social Contract, is an entertaining show, well deserving of its recognition of comedic gold by the Moose Head Award. It has an endlessly hilarious story line, complimented by fanciful and amusing never-ending tangents from seemingly unrelated but always relevant topics such as all-natural ice cream, the Blacktown RSL, the economic crisis, and the previous trials of the human spirit, in the form of shows that can only be described as divine tests of career choices at small town frog-themed family hotels. Showing his versatility as a comedian, the show takes a side-splitting turn when Bloustein throws caution to the wind and finishes the show with a bang, saying: ‘if I’m going to get in trouble for an offensive joke, I want it to be this one’, leaving the crowd in fits of laughter. Although hosted in a small room with a tiny stage, the lighting and music were of a professional standard.
The close quarters worked to Bloustein’s advantage, accentuating his warmth, charisma and his uncanny ability to relate to the audience. It reminded everyone of that one friend we all all relish the chance to catch up with, given their outlandish wit and it-could-only-happen-to-me self-inflicted stories. This makes him very easy to relate to, resulting in the atmosphere being comfortable and personal. The only flaw for the entire performance can be attributed to his sense of wit. Dave Bloustein is an incredibly sharp witted comedian, obviously reflected in his day job as a writer for GNW and The Glass house, and this at times worked to his disadvantage, with some concepts going over parts of the audiences’ heads and thus needing to be spelled out, resulting in a loss of something in the explanation.
Dave Bloustein is a genuinely hilarious comedian, who in a refreshing change of pace has the ability to make people laugh by relying on the skills and tools of his craft. He does not have to resort to being offensive or employing the over-used bad pun routines and is a must see for all those looking for something a little bit different, but in a good way and I would highly recommend it. It is so diverse it is literally everybody’s cup of tea.
If Wolverine were Mr Hyde, Sydney comedy writer (Good News Week) and stand-up Dave Bloustien would be his Dr Jekyll alter ego. Sideburned, dapper and diminutive enough to be cuddly, Bloustien exudes a hyperactive warmth that’s irresistible. Being seated before him in an almost impossibly tight room at the Portland Hotel is about one degree away from being engrossed in a long conversation with your most delightfully entertaining friend.
The conversation topic? Humiliation at the hands of a facile entrepreneur and the disinterested rabble of Cronulla high school graduates, and redemption at the Small Claims Court. Bloustien earned a Moosehead grant for The Social Contract, wherein he recounts the tale of a doomed performance on a high school formal boat cruise and the crusade to prove in court that he was actually funny and, y’know, deserved to be paid for his services from an unscrupulous entertainment booker.
Bloustien shoots through the events, including multiple diversions into observational comedy, with such an infectious energy that he’s impossible to ignore. Hell, half the time I was convinced I was hearing this tall tale over an afternoon beer and many times had to stop myself from nodding incredulously and asking leading questions from the floor.
An intriguing element of the show found Bloustien’s comedic range so wide that a constant ripple of chuckling hummed through the audience as different members found certain angles amusing: satire, sarcasm, self-deprecation, shaggy dog storytelling, knowing wit, his occasional weakness for puns and surrealism, and his erudite wordplay (it’s been a long time since I’ve heard someone drop ‘mollify’ into casual conversation).
That said, an hour spent bombarded by Bloustien’s ponderings is pleasurably exhausting. The spine of the show is strong and the delivery is enormously appealing.
Based on real events that he experienced last year, Dave Bloustien’s show The Social Contract describes a horror gig that he performed at and the resulting legal wrangle that he had to contend with.
This was a show that all performers would relate to,often with cringeworthy detail. It wasn’t all entertainment industry talk, as he had a wonderful way of telling the story that the casual punter could find immensely entertaining. Dave mixed factual information and historical quotes to illustrate various points of the tale which were in stark contrast to the numerous pop culture references that he used as the basis for many of the jokes. This made the material much more accessible for those erroneously assuming they would be subjected to an hour of legalese. He even admitted to not being knowledgeable about the law and effectively used this ignorance to create some wonderfully silly concepts that were hilarious. Adding to the humour was the clear illustration that he had clearly dwelled on the minutae for a bit too long, resulting in a unique twist on the material.
Years of experience in writing comedy combined with the direction of Alan Brough resulted in a tight show that was all killer and no filler. The odd weak joke or pun was treated to some self referential play that ensured that the laughs remained at an elevated level. There was possibly some rope thrown into the mix but the structure of the show was so solid that it slipped in covertly.
He utilised a classic structure in which each point of the story contained a number of small jokes that built to a large one resulting in maximum audience laughter. It was a rhythm that was comfortable and effective. Dave occasionally went off on brief tangents but he had the experience to be able to reel himself back and keep the story progressing. While not being the biggest stage presence, he had the impressive ability to keep the audience glued to his every word through his enthusiasm alone.
The Social Contract was a brilliant show. Dave’s wonderful ability to tell a story had the punters constantly laughing.
Comedy is a tough gig. More than any other live performance it relies on audience feedback and engagement. In The Social Contract – Redux, Dave Bloustein recounts his all too personal experience with a comedy show gone horribly wrong; so wrong, in fact, that he wound up in court for not being funny.
There is little danger of him landing in court with this show, even if it went to trial I’d be a witness in his defence: sharp, intelligent, high-spirited, insightful, Bloustein covered off on death, childhood existential crises, high school formals, religion and murder (so, you know, the entire ambit of human experience) with wit and candour.
Bloustien’s intelligence shines through in his material and his delivery warms the crowd. The audience is guided through the distant hills and valleys of his mind and his life; some trials and some triumphs: much laughter.
The remaining shows are on the Popeye, so if you had any hesitations about being trapped on a boat with an-unfunny comedian: worry not! Pack the boat! Go see! You won’t be compelled to sue! [insert legal disclaimer here]
"ARE you ready to laugh?" calls Dave Boustien, in his fifth Comedy Festival show. When we reply in the affirmative, he quickly points out that this is a verbal contract. We are legally obliged to laugh. It's a thorough point, but he needn't have worried.
The Social Contract details his worst ever gig, one that obliged him to prove, in a court of law, that he was funny. This incredible story is the show's skeleton, which is then fleshed out with myriad jokes. Bloustien is a prolific gagster, using jokes where others would use a full stop.
With Alan Brough's tight direction, this is a night of classic stand-up: a well-written show, executed at a cracking pace by a likeable performer.
Let it be said in print: Dave Bloustien is funny. He's also contractually obliged to make you laugh. You know what to do if he doesn't.