The medium of comedy allows a performer to play, among other things, either an exaggerated or ruminative version of the themselves. Think the extraverted introvert versus the introverted extravert. How often we hear that a comedian is “nothing like they are on stage as they are in real life”. Through his multi-award winning character Randy Feltface (a.k.a. Randy the Purple Puppet), comedian and puppeteer Heath McIvor is able to incorporate both of these personality types, the former in style and the latter in content. It’s a balance that provides unique range and depth, and a skill that should not be discounted, because you’re never quite sure where one ends and the other begins, allowing McIvor to use artistic illusions to reveal resonant truths.
From divorce and tax fraud to tea totalling and veganism, Randy has spent the past nine years performing on and off with comedic partner Sammy J through a series of life events that no matter how bizarre, are strangely familiar and applicable. Such is the case in Randy Writes a Novel, where the titular comedian allows his observational comedy to distract him from a public reading of his novel “Walking to Skye”. From drink-driving and place-names to blue food and the most entertaining Gumtree purchase anecdote, Randy’s hyperactive yet ever-casual delivery allows for such seeming procrastination and seamless tangents to be subtly layered between an existential narrative drive that equals so much more than the sum of its parts. To delay an important task is nothing new, but to use such universal action (or lack thereof), to produce existential enlightenment is a rarity.
From Harper Lee to Ernest Hemingway, Randy waxes lyrical one minute, then drags you through the mud the next. He can quote Alain de Botton and express concern towards the interpretation of Buddhist philosophy, though it never comes across as supercilious or polemic, before usurping himself by appealing to our baser senses. And whether driving the narrative or expanding on an idea, he finds a joke at every turn, even when engaging with the uncertainty of audience interaction.
The success of comedy can often be judged by how deeply it burrows into your subconscious. Good luck hearing the name Morgan ever again without Randy’s voice in your head. And while it’s true that one can get away with so much more via a puppet, to reduce McIvor’s skill as a comedian to this one factor would be to ignore his flawless narrative, word economy, vocal affectations, timing, and delivery. Randy Writes a Novel is one of the most simple yet complex, hilarious, and profound hours of comedy, and for only $20AUD, it can all be yours.