Dr. Professor Neal Portenza’s Interactive Goat Hour V2.0
Dr. Professor Neal Portenza @ The Tuxedo Cat – Blue Room
7:30pm, Thu 10 Mar 2011
There’s not many people in the Blue Room that have responded to Dr. Professor Neal Portenza’s spruiking this evening – in fact, I probably saw more people pose for photos with the heavily made-up (and decidedly odd-looking) Dr. Professor Neal than were in the audience. As usual for small shows, I elect to sit in the front row; there’s a little bag of party favours there, with a Mintie, a plastic army man, and a party popper.
Dr. Professor Neal’s show is very reliant on his collection of digital material – PowerPoint slides, movies, and audio are all supplied via his laptop. And whilst the pre-prepared material is completely bizarre – the introductory singing goat video is just nuts – there’s a bit of a struggle maintaining the levels of zaniness when reverting to a live presentation.
Part of this, it must be said, was undoubtedly due to the audience… because there were people in the crowd that were clearly sitting there thinking “what the fuck?” (in a bad way). I could see them from my position onstage while I was up there for an uncomfortable couple of minutes… Neal is no Brown when it comes to audience manipulation. And the three loud-mouthed guys sitting in the front row on the other side of the aisle, inanely heckling in a boorish manner, fell stone silent when they were beckoned onstage… and were as stiff and awkward as a statue. Well played, chaps.
Dr. Professor Neal Portenza provides an attractive blend of pre-prepared and live humour, mired in surrealism and certainly WTF-worthy (in a good way). But it all feels a little bit shallow, a little bit false… like there’s no real confidence in the act. It’s almost like Dr. Professor Neal Portenza knows that he’s got a good character, but isn’t quite sure what to do from there.