2015 marks stand up comedian Dave Warneke’s sixth year at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. This year, he’s looking for love. Not a significant other as such, more like a significant audience. Aided by Sam Petersen, or rather, Samuel Jenkins, Warneke strides out in bow tie, suspenders and belt ready to woo a crowd. It’s an interactive experience, though not in the traditional manner; the audience are encouraged to participate via smart phone rather than heckling, though there is a bit of that too. Whether or not Warneke finds love is entirely up to the audience and their fingertips.
Warneke’s persona is a wet blanket of a skinny twenty-four year old Melbournian. Polite and overly anxious, the interactivity is broken up by five minute stand up sets that feel a little forced. Petersen is Warneke’s smarmy counter. Like a filthy version of Moss from The IT Crowd, Petersen is monotone, attention seeking and creepy. It’s a perfect contrast to Warneke, making him all the more pleasant and likeable.
Warneke is at his best when he is dating the entire audience, who have collectively named themselves Audrey. The interactivity and the banter are strong, inclusive and funny. With the mobile accessible website and the straightforward button pressing, Warneke forces investment and interaction from the audience that pays off. There’s an uneasy tension that can either undercut the premise of the show or triple the laughter, and Warneke keeps it positive. There’s dinner, a movie, and games.
Games are Warneke’s comedic secret weapon. Well known for his ongoing live World Record Show with Adam Knox and Andy Matthews, which is now in its third year at MICF, Warneke also hosts late night quiz show Facty Fact. He is knowledgeable, oddly charming, and a little manipulative in his treatment of the audience, all of which come to play as he tries to date the entire audience.
The central concept here is solid, and the interactivity results in bigger laughs then there might otherwise be. Warneke is an excellent performer with a mind for big ideas. Bring your partner, bring your parents, bring your cat*, and have an hour long, no strings attached date. Be careful though, you may find yourself seeking out more Warneke at MICF.
Dave Warneke Dates the Entire Audience is on at 7:15pm at Tuxedo Cat until Sunday the 19th, with no show on Wednesdays. Tickets range from $15 to $20 and are available online or at the door.
*Please do not actually bring your cat, even if it’s in a tuxedo.
World Record Show is on in the Melbourne Town Hall on Monday the 13th of April at 9pm. Tickets cost around $20 and are available online or from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival box office, located on Collins street.
Facty Fact is also on at Tuxedo Cat on Friday the 17th and Saturday the 18th of April at 11pm. It is free.