A former Apple Store “Genius”, English comic James Veitch has gained some life XP and returns to MICF following his sell-out 2017 offering on internet scams: Dot Con. Having missed that, I was keenly anticipating his fusion of “unashamedly nerdy comedy” and PowerPoint in Game Face. Despite the odd glitch, Veitch delivered a solid hour of entertainment enhanced by some nutty thinking.
Veitch has cleverly used his clips to trawl the internet for fans as The Supper Room at Melbourne Town Hall (quite a large comedy venue) was packed. Possibly owing to a start about 30 minutes later than advertised, the animated opening sequence didn’t go over so well with a group of people who were more than ready to see Veitch live. It seemed that he was indulging his own interests to the exclusion of everyone else’s. However, we would later see that this was somewhat appropriate for the loose arc of the show…
Well, maybe it’s more appropriate to say that Game Face had sections that were still in beta testing this preview night. With aborted attempts at improv, some memory lapses, and being unable to find files on his laptop, some parts felt somewhat underdone. Yet, from the polish on Veitch’s other spots, we may expect some hasty bug patches and the show to scroll more smoothly in the rest of the season.
Mostly Veitch does “bits” which might not even have a segue between them. This didn’t seem to matter much given how hard and often the audience laughed at the actual content.
There are different aspects to the appeal of Game Face. One is that Veitch has the impishness to not accept directives from bureaucratic regimes. Instead, he employs what I’d call `admin judo’ to turn policies against their inflictors, merely for the fun of seeing how they’ll handle the reversal.
His documentary style meant we saw the email exchanges with his would-be tormentors, and could enjoy how Veitch escalated to a ridiculous conclusion. For example, his segments on the validity of a driving fine and the opening of a new supermarket earned big laughs.
Novelties abound in Game Face. You might not expect so much comedy from Veitch comparing the value-for-money proposition of his “Headmasters” haircut with that of his friend. But once he got Headmasters involved, and started making his point with graphics, we were off into very silly territory that gave capitalism just a light toasting. Perhaps this sort of good-natured trolling is what Louis Theroux would be doing if he wasn’t making documentaries.
Veitch has deviated from well-worn standup paths by giving us different topics to think about, or odd spins on everyday matters, and not relying on swearing. Near the end he tried to give us some idea of what Game Face means, something about getting yourself ready to do what’s important and not wasting time on trivial things.
It wasn’t such a convincing message given the inspiration for the hour of comedy we’ve just seen. More resonant was his advice that it’s important to make space for that part of you that used to play, and so the opening animated sequence finally made (some) sense.
If MICF 2018 is like a video game, there will be a number of somewhat routine events of relatively minor interest. Game Face is like the end-of-level Boss; guaranteed to be more satisfying as it surprises while it entertains.
James Veitch: Game Face
Supper Room – Melbourne Town Hall, Swanston Street, Melbourne
Performance: Friday 30 March 2018 – 8:15pm
Season continues to 22 April 2018
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: James Veitch (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte