It is difficult to remember how much you miss those ridiculous children’s programs, until they are parodied by a proficient performer.
Lessons With Luis is nothing short of quirky and fun. As an excellent example of “character comedy” (as well as parodying said style), the show is reminiscent of an episode of Playschool, or some of those overly enthusiastic kindergarten teachers. The audience is taken through a world of different jokes and gags, all under the pretence of “learning something”.
What was most innovative about the show was the seamless interaction between the performer and the recorded material. Even if someone disliked the content, it is impossible to dislike the way the show is presented. Bright colours, an old VCR, and over-sized props all work together seamlessly, indicating a thorough preparation – and a lot of creative planning.
Lessons With Luis is a show that has been meticulously planned, and it shows in its near perfect execution. The pacing of the show is excellent, with each segment running long enough to get plenty of laughs, whilst at the same time not dragging out too long and running their course. There was also a healthy mix of audience interaction, pre-recorder material, and live performance. Fortunately, the audience this evening played by the script (mostly), and kept the show quite light-hearted. This was helped by Luis’ performance, which although did sometimes veer into the “overly-happy-and-probably-hiding-something” territory, it did manage to keep the show fun.
One criticism that can be levelled at the show is the fact that there was a slightly dark undertone that wasn’t addressed. Due to the nature of the performance (the overly joyous performance that screamed “compensating for crushing sadness”), as well as some of the pauses after some semi-poignant moments, it felt as though there would be a dark reveal towards the end of the show.
This “dark ending” never eventuated. Which, being a comedy show, is understandable. However, there was that slight feeling of unease towards the end of the show, which wasn’t quite relieved by the happy dance song at the end of the show (or those stickers handed out at the door). Perhaps a slightly dramatic scene – or even a line or two that would have made the audience ask themselves “wait, what did he say?” to properly fulfil this darker undertone, then followed by ridiculous dances and a positive note.
Oh, and if you dislike cats, and think our feline pets will one day turn on us and begin a new world cat order, this show is probably not for you.
Lessons With Luis is on at ACMI until the 17th of April. Tickets are available online and at the ACMI box office.