It can be difficult to categorise DeAnne Smith’s approach to stand-up, insofar as she has carved a niche for herself without ever risking accessibility or reliability.
With Post-Joke Era, Smith continues to blur the lines and forge her own unique path that results in getting the best of both worlds. She knows her audience from the outset – the studious lesbians, the right-on lefties – but she’s also determined to get a crack out of a few blank faces staring out from the first few rows.
She knows when to draw into specific detail when covering politics and gender, but can also swing for the fences with broader, sillier jokes when the time calls for it – which includes one of the single funniest prop gags Sydney Comedy Festival may have ever seen. It’s so good that if Smith didn’t mention that it wasn’t normally placed in that exact part of the show, you wouldn’t have noticed. Essentially, Smith is one of the more adept and versatile comics on the circuit – and whether you’re picking up what she’s putting down from the opening lines or it takes a moment to warm up, no-one gets left behind.
A lot has gone on around Smith’s life recently – including the political climate of North America, exploration of gender identity and a clearer idea of what middle age looks like. It’s all dealt with in equal parts empathy and hilarity on Smith’s behalf, who has an uncanny ability to find humour in what would otherwise be considered quite bleak scenarios.
There’s a real energy to Smith’s performance tonight – maybe it’s the loosened approach that comes from her flow getting disrupted, or perhaps it’s simply the fact the Friday night vibe is just right. Whatever the case, she makes for an arresting performer, her hour onstage flying by so quickly you’re half expecting her to bound right back up for round two.
Still, if you’re gonna finish a show, you might as well do it in style. Through both a hilarious “double act” bit and a tacked-on “bonus track” in which she details a text exchange with a wrong number, Smith properly combines her flirtations with surrealism with her knack for smartly structured storytelling.
If you’re at all intrigued by the idea of queer comedy in every sense of the term, you needn’t look much further than the self-described “gentleman elf” you see before you.
DeAnne Smith was reviewed at the Factory Theatre on Friday March 28 during Sydney Comedy Festival 2017.