MICF: Willem Richards is Bringing Out the Cheeseboard (4 stars)

Upon entering the small room in the Downstairs Lounge at The Grand Mercure, we are greeted by Willem Richard’s heavily-accented ‘dad’ who is singing along to Bette Midler and offering us cheese and crackers. My friend is confused and asks, “is that him or is that actually his dad?” He gets his answer when dad introduces his son, and he is still standing on the stage.

Richard’s show is an expert mix of one man sketch, improvisation, and storytelling. His performance is interspersed with a lot of anecdotes from his childhood with an overly enthusiastic Polish dad. His improvisation surrounding his short-lived teenage tennis career with his dad as coach is hilarious. He also narrates the time his dad offers to buy him a car, and ten years later a slightly flood-ravaged vehicle is purchased. Richard’s impersonations of his father are incredible. So much so I think he could have a strong acting career as an irate European man!

His sketch pieces, with background music included, take him from preaching about staples, dancing around the room as Spanish Ken (of Barbie and Ken fame), and working at a matchmaking call centre. Audience participation is encouraged, and I of course am invited on stage to go on a date with Spanish Ken. But as it turns out, everything I say just reminds him of his ex-lover, Maria. Next time, Miguel Barcelona.

But perhaps the ending is the funniest moment of them all. Richard begins to undress behind a curtain, but continues to address the audience. The lights are then dimmed before we are greeted by Richard dressed as Kylie Minogue in the Can’t Get You out of my Head video clip. He realises his dreaming of being her backup dancer before our eyes, and it is a sight to see.

When: 23rd March – 3rd April 2016 (9:00pm)

Where: Downstairs Lounge, Mercure Hotel, MELBOURNE

Tickets: $15 – $19

Info: Duration 50 minutes; wheelchair accessible; suitable 18+

Link: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/bringing-out-the-cheeseboard-willem-richards-is