Dr. Brown Because
Dr. Brown @ The Tuxedo Cat – Yellow Room
10:15pm, Thu 10 Mar 2011
So – Dr. Brown, yeah? After last year’s experience where I spent half the show onstage (yet had a really fun time), I kept bumping into the good doctor’s alter ego Philip Burgers around the place. He’s a wonderful bloke – very friendly, very happy to answer all my asinine questions as I try to figure out what makes a mind like his tick, and just an all-round good guy.
I was really happy to see him in the Guide again in 2011. I saw him a few times around the place, had a bit of a chat, and I was looking forward to seeing Because.
And then I saw his performance in the Ha Ha Comedy Late Show – and I wasn’t sure whether he’d still be performing by the time I slotted his show in. Because I half expected him to be remanded on assault charges.
Clearly, that wasn’t the case. And as I scurried up to the Yellow Room, I saw that the room was packed… and there were precious few seats left.
Except for a couple in the front row.
…You can see where this is going, can’t you?
But more about that later.
It was a bit of a change watching Dr. Brown’s act from the safety of the audience; with a stage littered with various amounts of crap, it really did look like he was ambling from piece to piece, applying wit and panache to whatever element of his act he elected to perform. He’s absolutely brilliant by himself onstage; his presentation to the audience is impeccable, with deadpan facial expressions and sparkles of mischief in his eyes… but when he pulled a member of the audience up onstage to use as a foil, the laughs came thicker and faster.
While his first audience mark was subjected to the same bits I’d previously seen in the Ha Ha Comedy Late Show, there was an incredible sense of fun about them; there was no aggression in the sitting segment (and the mark played along with a massive grin on his face), and the return slap was performed with a giggle. To be honest, I was staggered to discover that those ideas were part of his act; that he manages to pull them off and still get huge peals of laughter out of the audience (and participants!) speaks volumes of Dr. Brown’s personality… and the level of adulation in the crowd that choose to follow him.
Then it was my turn.
Plucked from the front row, I was introduced to the audience as a translator; Dr. Brown would spit out something that sounded like fractured Mandarin into his microphone, then hand the mike to me whilst surreptitiously whispering the “translation” into my ear, which I dutifully repeated… until there was a quiet heckle from the audience. Dr. Brown sneered at the heckler and produced a sarcastic laugh; seizing the moment for a bit of ad libbing, I grabbed the mike and “translated” the laugh.
See – that is why I’m not on stage.
There’s the odd snicker from the crowd, but Dr. Brown turns to face me with a look of faux outrage on his face. After staring at me in disgust for what felt like an eternity, he – almost imperceptibly – shakes his head a little and raises his hands, as if to say “what the fuck do you think you’re doing?” He was right, of course, and I was squarely put in my place – but the roars of laughter that followed his tiny gesture were phenomenal.
And that’s the amazing thing about Dr. Brown – for a performance that relies so heavily on the surreal mix of outlandish characterisations and broad physical humour, there’s so much finesse, so much refinement in each little action that it makes incredibly compelling viewing; you really cannot guess how he’ll make you laugh next. But make no mistake, Philip Burgers is an exceptional clown – and whenever Dr. Brown is onstage, you’re guaranteed of an exceptional clown show for adult minds.