Archie Henderson approaches his tightly mashed together collection of keyboards, vocoders and dick shaped instruments, sliding on stage to make them sing with a light touch. In Jazz Emu’s opening number he shows off an impressive array of talents, some useful and some completely pointless, but all of them demonstrating off Henderson’s proficiency as a musical comedian. The song is all too relatable to anyone with any sense of ambiguity in what you want to do with your life – you become a jack of all trades, master of none.
Probably most well-known for his appearance on Mr Box’s One Second Everyday, Henderson’s fringe show is an extension of his musical projects on YouTube. He explains that this has an impact on his brief career as a schoolteacher, where his students quickly flooded his channel questioning why he has a song on there about trimming your pubes in the shower. He’s able to turn these into little self-deprecating jams which use embarrassment to his advantage; lending themselves to operatic act outs of Facebook drama later on.
Jumping around from topic to topic, he shares his musings on daily life and his inventive takes on Queen, house music and James Blunt. The first thing that really draws you in is his one-man approach to composing music. It’s mostly done live by layering beats and synths on top of each other with looping software until it’s time to make a joke. When you’re making musically-inclined comedy you might make the easy mistake to forget to throw enough humour in, but thankfully each song is full of enough non-sequiturs and deep grooves to set a funny baseline.
Henderson’s brand of musical comedy isn’t anything particularly groundbreaking but it is blessed with a phenomenal level of production. He’s managed to shove so many little jokes within his parodies, remixes and newly crafted genres that at times you might be at risk of sensory overload. There’s no slacking off musically in favour of the comedic material pulling the weight. It’s clear that the work done in preparing for this show has taken a huge amount of effort. It does have the occasional overused call-back or obvious joke, but the audience still roars hysterically at it all with a feeling of captivation that is rarely seen from a debut act at the festival.