The Festival favourite is back to put her own spin on self-help culture in this new show
A veritable staple of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Canadian-American comic DeAnne Smith is back in a spirited show that she herself cheekily dubs a "non-stop romp of hilarity". Epiphany is indeed hilarious and features a host of romping topics, including jabs at the patriarchy, ponderance of shifting sexual appetites as one ages, a gentle look at the humanity of dog documentaries, and, of course, a dance break. Smith blends these smart and silly subjects with expert conviction.
The resulting high energy is down to Smith’s connection to her audience. She wants to know what her punters think, and she’s willing to investigate. If a joke draws ire, she digs in to find out why. If snorts are heard, or comments shouted, she addresses, questions, and follows up. She is so keen to know her audience that about halfway through the show, she opens the floor to questions and comments. This night, the crowd wasn’t giving much, but Smith found a comedy nugget in a 22-year-old audience member who admitted her show was his first ever live performance outing. Startled, Smith grabbed this thread like the boarding ladder on a life raft and managed a deft chunk of improvised gold, with funny references to Melbourne suburbs, throwaway jobs and millennial ennui. She even created a catchphrase for her new friend, which became a motif of positivity for the remainder of the show.
The audience is what matters to Smith. She builds connection, reveals communal vulnerabilities, and throws a creative spin on self-help, affirmation culture that comes together in Epiphany’s delightful final moments. This is a veteran at work, albeit one known to identify, at times, as a squirrel in pants.