Billed as the ‘world’s funniest dance duo’, UK comedy partners Tom Roden and Pete Shendon make their Melbourne debut this month with Big Bag Of Boom, featuring all the laughs you can stuff into a leotard.
The pair, who’ve been working together for well over a decade, told the Star Observer via email what Australian audiences could expect ahead.
“Big Bag Of Boom is our greatest hits show. It’s an eclectic mix of comedy and dance — 13 years of New Art Club work distilled into 60 minutes of mayhem,” they said.
“It’s built around some physical ideas, some sections that you could broadly describe as stand-up and some exciting audience participation.”
Indeed, it’s a diverse, almost indescribable mix — prepare to be confronted with dancing terrorists, depraved garden gnomes, insane horses and a ‘twisted peekaboo game’ that should come with a health warning.
“To some extent the whole thing is indescribable. Critics and audiences tend to edge towards words like ‘creative’, which could be a euphemism for wishy-washy arty shit, or ‘weird’, which we quite like.
“We talk a lot about how the audience experience the performance — we want to give them a ride that’s exciting and unusual and beautiful, and with this show more than any other we want them to laugh a lot.”
To outsiders, the contemporary dance world can seem to take itself very seriously. Both Roden and Shendon have dance backgrounds, but now see themselves primarily as comedians.
“[Dance] does take itself seriously,” they said. “It has to — it’s an underrated art form slugging it out with art forms like poetry and experimental music as the world’s least popular!
“But amongst the seriousness are lots of great artists and companies doing interesting work. We are one of those companies, it’s just that we’ve strayed so far from the path we now consider ourselves as much comedians as anything else.”
As evidenced by the pair’s publicity shots, there’ll be a lot of green lycra-clad flesh on display in Big Bag of Boom. They first donned the leotards for a one-off photo shoot in 2001, they explained, and initially didn’t feature them in their shows, until “a public outcry for their inclusion. Ten years later we are still wearing them”.
With a succession of rapid-fire costume changes in each show, and many a skintight outfit, it would seem the pair are asking for an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction.
Have they ever accidentally flashed an — ahem — big bag of boom?
“When you wear a leotard, you don’t need a wardrobe malfunction to look ridiculous,” they quipped.
Amongst the lycra-clad lunacy, Melbourne audiences will be treated to a show with a bit of local flavour, including a didgeridoo routine which Shendon and Roden promised will forever taint your image of the instrument.
“Australians often come up to us and say our work would go down well in Melbourne. We sincerely hope they are right — it’s a long way to come to fuck it up.”
info: New Art Club play at the Bosco Theatre until April 24. Visit www.comedyfestival.com.au