Sometimes it is just not your night, and you get the feeling that is the case for Demi Lardner tonight. Her show is bedevilled with technical hiccups, with both her mic and electronic clicker failing at various points.
Of course, given that Lardner has built her reputation on presenting seemingly chaotic and shambolic shows, certain interruptions are clearly built-in ‘mishaps’. But her real-looking frustration suggests this is not the case. Not only that, Lardner is not being aided by the crowd, a lot of whom seem baffled by her comedy style—she is definitely not for everyone. She makes fun of this though, telling us that we will be surprised to learn that this show has won awards.
The funny thing is, it really is not surprising at all, as there is a lot to love here. Lardner is undoubtedly a brilliant comic mind, and many of her sketches fizz with comic invention. There is also a heck of a lot going on here. There are video spots, voice-overs, songs, dance numbers—you name it—including a rendition of La Macarena that is both disturbing and hilarious.
Given the frenetic pace, she fires through the sketches; there will inevitably be hits and misses. An extended bit where she reads from a ‘film script’ she has written, for example, doesn’t really go anywhere. However, the hits far outweigh the misses overall. One of the highlights is a sketch featuring the characters Jennifer and Bunt. This is a skit that is done in the style of a prologue for one of those ‘odd couple’ sitcoms, and it becomes increasingly demented as it goes on.
In another highlight, Lardner playfully mocks the trend of comedians dredging autobiographical tales for emotional content because ‘that’s what wins awards’. She does so by telling her own delightfully bizarre true story from her childhood involving a kangaroo. It almost seems too on-the-nose Aussie to possibly be real, but she assures us it very much is.
Ditch Witch 800 seems like it could be a truly great show on its best night. Unfortunately, on this night it has the air sucked out of it a bit by technical mishaps and tepid audience reactions. Even with that, though, Lardner’s skill and daring as a performer (she is certainly not afraid to climb through an audience, much to the obvious horror of some) still shines through, and there are still plenty of laughs to be had.