Lessons with Luis – Luis Presents: Kidney Kingdom
This article first appeared on Buzzcuts, Express Media’s cultural arts blog.
Awkwardness is evidently the new funny. I never thought this was possible, given the seemingly polar relationship between social discomfort and humour – but when you find yourself cracking up over a nonsensical joke about dentists, featuring puns not even your dad would dare make, you know the times are changing.
Lessons with Luis represents a new brand of comedy, one where punch lines are substituted for oversized fleeces, and where extroverted personalities are replaced with the kind of people you might meet in a library. Most significantly, the jokes in Luis presents:Kidney Kingdom are not funny. Most of them are downright incoherent and don’t deserve to be reimbursed with laughter. The funny thing is, these jokes aren’t meant to be funny.
Luis, Luelin, and their father Len are the true centrepieces of this performance; their general demeanor and mild dance moves are enough to negate the cringeworthy humour. Indeed, few other comic groups could pull off the awkward repertoire of this familial troupe without falling flat.
The three performers stay in character from start to finish. The protagonist Luis is both sheepish and confident; he thrives in the lead role, but never drifts too far from his self-conscious and concerned nature.
Len, on the other hand, is your typical proud father. All throughout the performance, he looks for opportunities to praise his two sons. His sentiment comes from the heart, as opposed to his intentionally stilted dialogue, which he recites off a portable music stand.
As loveable as Luis and his father are, the star of the show is Luelin, Luis’ mute and perennially deadpan brother. Luelin is a reluctant hero if there ever was one. Only once does he offer the crowd the semblance of a smirk, and one suspects that was accidental. The closest he ever comes to verbal communication is during an intermission sequence, in which he gives an unsuspecting audience member a moment in the spotlight.
Luis, Luelin, and Len’s social incompetence is unequivocal, but they do their best to ensure the awkwardness isn’t reciprocal. The fast pace of their show gives the audience little time to feel uneasy; before one has decided whether or not a skit is clapworthy, the canned laughter soundtrack has already played and Luis has thanked his crowd.
In doing so, Luis and co. gives their audience no choice but to embrace their unconventional act. Moreover, with the trio offering personal farewells to every member of the audience at the show’s end, this is one comedy performance that’s impossible to hate.
Lessons With Luis – Luis Presents: Kidney Kingdom runs until 5 October at The Ballroom, Lithuanian Club. Full ticketing information is available on the Fringe Festival website.