2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival:
• Lincoln Daw—The Next Superpower

Posted on 10 April 2013

Theatre and standup are separate, but overlapping art forms. You can approach standup as a theatrical production. You can invest more time in costumes, lighting, sound, dramatic moments, and more. It is 100% all right to write out and memorise your routine.

This is a very different experience to thinking up a few one-liners and an anecdote or two, testing it on an audience, then thinking up more material and testing it, until after a year you have an hour’s worth of finely honed routine.

Lincoln Daw’s The Next Superpower began life as a more theatrical comedy. Daw had only a few months to put together a show he had already booked into the Melbourne Fringe Festival. The best way to ensure success was to create something highly structured with plenty of cues to assist in recalling lines. An enriched theatrical experience is equally helpful to audiences, creating a memorable event.

I was approached to help with the writing and directing of this show. Daw had over two hours worth of material and together we trimmed it down to the time required. I also had a couple spare hours to sew together a ginormous Chinese flag. This all came together in record time and the show did reasonably well.

Fast forward six months and Daw is performing this show for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Only he has significantly changed the material. With reflection he has removed some of the structure and fitted the show to a more raconteur style. I liked our old show, but the new show is a delightful surprise.

The old show focused on Daw’s teaching experiences. The current show is more about cultural differences and included many stories I had never seen nor heard before. His new bit about the selling of canned air had me laughing all over again.

Daw spends more time this show chatting with the audience, comparing their experiences with his own. “Has anyone been to the Mao Mausoleum?” he asks. “What was your least favourite part?” He does this with sufficient ease that the audience trusts him and offers up their observations.

Core to all of Lincoln Daw’s Superpower shows is his exposing people to the alien-ness of modern Chinese culture. Despite seeing news events concerning China on TV and watching the odd Jackie Chan film, we know very little about that country. Whether or not everything he says is funny, his show is always interesting. I’m a great lover of documentaries and this is as informative as a David Attenborough nature show, but combined with a dollop of droll laughter.

If you have seen The Next Superpower before and enjoyed it, let me encourage you to see it again. If you haven’t seen it before, you’re in for a fun trip.


Lincoln Daw

Peace and kindness,


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