[2011078] Harmon Leon in Ironic / Not Ironic

Harmon Leon in Ironic / Not Ironic

Harmon Leon @ Austral Hotel – The Bunka

10:30pm, Mon 28 Feb 2011

I first saw Harmon Leon waaaaay back in 1998 during my first “big” Fringe (oh how adorable those fifty-odd shows feel now!) I’ve caught him again several times since (an even heard him spring up on Citizen RadioDrunken Politics back-in-the-day), and I’ve been following the misfortunes of poor little Timmy into a third decade now of threats, now.

But he doesn’t appear to have many fans like me (and hey – even I was relatively unimpressed with his 2000 effort); previous crowds have been thin, and there was one show many years back (2002, maybe?) where I was the only punter who bothered. On this cool Monday night, at The Bunka… two people turned up. And as we wait outside, the other guy turned to me and said “you’re that guy, right? The one who sees all the shows?”

It turns out that we’d met a couple of Fringes back out at Holden Street. We have a great old laugh, swap notes about what’s worth seeing, and eventually wander in. I coax him into the front row and await Harmon Leon’s arrival…

But it’s not Harmon Leon who appears – it’s Abraham Lincoln, whose integrity shatters before our very eyes in a bizarre start to the show. After an unexpected strip, there’s an inexplicably brutal Intermission video shown on his AV system – before Harmon changes and reappears.

After formal introductions, he offers us the choice between the long stories or the short stories; we confer, and suggest that he follows his artistic discretion. Given that leeway, Leon took us on a journey of factual wonder, covering Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla’s battles over the dominant electricity distribution mechanism (which included the Intermission video’s electrocution of Topsy the elephant as support for AC’s superiority). Then came the contrast between Scottish poet William McGonagall‘s renowned awful poetry and Just Juice advertising, followed by Leon’s own attempts to infiltrate the Whammy game show, a baby beauty pageant, a Christian punk show…

Clearly, this was not the usual selection of material for a comedy show.

It’s all really thoughtful stuff, let down only by the titular “ironic/not ironic” material, where Leon would alternate (supposedly) ironic and not-so-ironic images for comic effect. I’m not really sure that a lot of that content was ironic at all… but, given the title of the show, that in itself would be ironic.

…oh. Maybe that’s the point.

Regardless, given the odd circumstances, this was a really enjoyable performance – and I even got Timmy to appear, by request. Awwwww :)

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