2012 Melbourne International Comedy Festival:
• Tom Binns in Ian D Montfort: Spirit Comedium

Posted on 12 April 2012

After seeing Spirit Comedium I found myself thinking about how one would come up with a show like this. By the time I was through with this chain of thought, I had concocted the next blockbuster film in the spirit of Sixth Sense and Ghost. So bear with me, I don’t often get this silly here.

Let’s say you are a young man and you really do have the ability to see and speak with dead people. You’re a normal modern fellow and love watching Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking on the telly as much as the next guy (okay, I suppose that’s normal for geeks like me). You know that many of your friends would think you are a loon if you seriously tell them of your experiences.

Let’s say you feel drawn to know more about your abilities. So you hang out with the New Age crowd, but you realise that many of them really are loons. You find you can make a living giving readings, but it’s pretty depressing stuff. You are mostly giving an ego boost to a lot of desperate housewives, all much older than you.

So what do you do? You concoct the idea of putting together a comedy show. This show will include standup, magic tricks, witty banter, and mediumship. No one will know whether they are supposed to take you seriously or not. So, they just laugh. But a few people will walk away thinking, “That was spooky. How did he know that about me?” Of course one of those people would have to be a female detective. She ends up being the only person who sees through the act and later asks you to help her with a murder mystery.

Spirit Comedium really is a mix of standup, magic tricks, witty banter, and mediumship. Tom Binns sets his character up as a dodgy New Age guru. At the beginning he looks out to one side of the audience and asks, “I sense there is a Kevin, Bill, Todd, or Andrew in this side of the theatre” sending up the methods used in some cold readings. However, he loses that character a bit by the end, because he is so competent in what he does. This doesn’t prove to be much of a stumbling block, because the show is fun. However, it does open the door to my above speculations.

I was particularly impressed by Binns’s impromptu interactions with the audience. He was able to quickly find a humorous response to almost anything said to him. It’s the sort of skill Ross Noble and Adam Hills are famous for. Also impressive is given how freeform much of his material was, he still managed to keep the pace snappy and the experience coherent. I do think he could work a little bit on improving the quality of his multimedia elements, but it did provide insights into the scenario he was creating.

To paraphrase the Melbourne City Circle Trams when passing the old city jails, for a spooky start to your evening why not give Spirit Comedium a try? Tom Binns is an affable performer and the show is entertaining.

Peace and kindness,



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