Wearing a traditional mime’s black-and-white-striped shirt, Patrick Collins walks into the invisible fourth wall. This sure looks like mime. But is it? And don’t think that it’s a metaphor. This is comedy, a clearly-defined world where you can be a mime or a stand-up.
Collins’ show Mime Consultant convinced mime-haters that mime is brilliant. In 2020, Collins’ more personal The New Nine convinced people who had seen enough white-bloke-stand-ups to rethink their assumptions. But since I’m Not a Mime isn’t stand-up or mime, is it destined to disappoint all the fans? If only the space between the black and white comedy extremes were open to exploration and didn’t need to be justified or explained.
Collins’ particular mime style is combined with jokes about the B52s, starfish riding penny-farthings and some bonus bits from their Covid-cancelled show Mime Sheriff. And that alone would make it irresistibly and ridiculously hilarious, but these jokes are only skating on the surface.
Between the sketches, the stand-up and the talking to the off-stage therapist (with a very-familiar voice), Collins talks to the audience about not being comfortable being defined as a mime or a stand-up. This isn’t like being bisexual, it’s something deeper. It’s something that’s not as obvious as a mimed wall or not telling your parents about being bi and polyamorous at the same time. It’s even not as obvious as answering media questions about being the only person who found lockdown difficult.
Collins is a mime and a comedian, and their new show is as queer, positive and embracing as it is absurd, non-sensical, enlightening and smart. It’s as much about rejecting self-doubt as it is about the stress of playing real-life Survivor and having to vote real people off.
I’m Not a Mime is about being welcomed, loved and happy in all of the many-coloured spaces between the black and white. And it turns out that they can be a mime and a stand-up and tell the most romantic and loving story of the festival about buying an enema.