Tommy Dassalo – Spread
Tommy Dassalo @ Rhino Room – Beer Garden
6:30pm, Sat 16 Mar 2013
I’d seen Tommy Dassalo a couple of times in the past and, whilst I’d been entertained by what I’d seen, I didn’t feel compelled to put him on my Shortlist. But after he put in some sterling work on a FACTY FACT panel, and followed that up with a quality five in a Rhino Room Late Show, I figured he was in pretty good form, and well worth another look.
The central narrative in Spread relates to Fred Walker – Dassalo’s great-grandfather – who essentially “discovered” Vegemite. Now, one would imagine that it’s pretty sweet to have that sort of thing in the family, but we all know that the Australian way is to eschew any kind of plaudits and just get on with not profiting from the breakthrough. And so it is with Walker (who Dassalo comically mimics with his old-man voice, a charmingly silly thing to hear from one who looks so young).
But that thread is used as a launching pad for Dassalo’s other jokes, which remain centred on the everyday: his family, his relationships, his own wellbeing, and even some familiar jokes from previous years reared their heads. And it’s all quite funny stuff, even if the Vegemitey narrative is very loosely managed… but then, some of the threadbare segues were funny in themselves.
There’s no doubting that Dassalo can write a good joke, and he’s clearly improved his pacing markedly since I first saw him; that this show also had a very sincere familial aspect to it also helped things along. But Spread felt like more of a yarn-spinning session than a standup show; it’ll be interesting to see which of those two directions Dassalo continues exploring, because I reckon he could excel at either. It’s just that this show was a little light-on in persistent laughs, and lacked a bit of cohesion in structure.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 16, 2013