For many artists, diversification is the key to survival. I first came across Barnie Duncan as a musician in the mid-2000s (The [Funky] Hot Grits), and since then have witnessed his successful transitions into both theatre-maker (…him, Constantinople) and comedian (Calypso Nights, Juan, Two?). This cross-disciplinary development has provided Duncan with a range of skills and experiences, and by merging the mediums of comedy and theatre he has created a show that, while not a-laugh-a-minute, reflects his thoughts on the creative process in this surreal late-night palate cleanser.
Jumping between the titular Tap Head and a meta version of himself, Duncan explores the world of stand-up comedy through success, failure, and the moments in between. The irony is that the spectrum of each extreme yields similar results in terms of audience enjoyment. Whether dying as Duncan, or winning as Juancan, it’s not so much the content of the sets that changes, but the ability to deliver it with a unique style and confidence. It’s the journey upon which every comedian endeavours, and Duncan lampoons, criticises, and embraces every step of it.
Interspersed with the “offstage” moments that inform his observations, the non-linear narrative can be difficult to piece together, but for attentive audiences, the plants and callbacks will certainly pay off. While I would certainly place Tap Head into a more theatrical category of the festival, it’s an astute reflection wrapped in a deceptive bow of ridiculousness and absurdity.