Forget everything you know about Demi Lardner. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been following along with the self-described “toddler with a tough life” since her breakout as a star of Raw Comedy, or if you’re only recently converted to Lardner’s oft-absurd and invariably entertaining approach to the medium of stand-up.
Hell, even if you don’t know anything about Lardner at all, it might be even better for you going into Look What You Made Me Do. Whatever the case, it’s an entirely clean slate as Lardner heads into her most conceptual, theatrical and ambitious show to date.
As a matter of fact, the slate has been wiped so thoroughly that Lardner herself doesn’t even feature in the show. In her place, meet Gavin, a 46-year-old stepfather who lives in deadbeat suburban nowhere with a house that just happens to have a spooky basement. Among other problems, he’s got a surveyor on the phone and a short memory – and it’s anyone’s guess how he’s gonna get himself out of his predicament.
Lardner is an endlessly captivating performer. Even in momentary lapses of character on account of some minor technical glitches, you never lose focus of the private universe that has been built up – no matter how silly, how dark or how completely off-track it goes. Although the absurdist approach takes a while to settle in for some attendees – as Lardner is clearly all too aware of, noting several times out of character how “fucked” the show is – her energy is simply too great to deny, her conviction and dedication to what she’s set up serving as more than enough to get her across the line.
It’s also pertinent to note outside influences on the show – namely its director, Aunty Donna’s Mark Bonanno, and stagehand/voiceover artist/second fiddle Michelle Brasier. The former, no stranger to comedy getting a little weird, has evidently added a sense of flair to Lardner’s usual approach, while the latter often threatens to steal the show on account of her killer one-liners and an absolutely hilarious scene involving a misunderstanding of catastrophic proportions between herself and Lardner.
At the end of the day, however, Look What You Made Me Do isn’t Brasier’s show, nor Bonanno’s or even Gavin’s. It’s Lardner’s crowning achievement thus far in an already illustrious career, and it’s poised her for even greater things. Make Lardner do more – and soon, too.
Demi Lardner was reviewed at the Enmore Theatre on Saturday May 6 as part of Sydney Comedy Festival 2017.