Premiering at the 2012 Adelaide Fringe Festival before going onto to packed houses at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Robinson Crusoe saw Damian return to the autobiographical realm of comedy that brought him such success with ‘Spaznuts’.
From the outset Damian juxtaposes the story of the English privateer being marooned on a tropical Island for 28 years with an incident from his childhood where he found himself exiled in his garage. After inviting the audience to keep the 11 y/o Damo company, he takes them on a journey to his childhood with specific attention to the inordinate amount of ‘Lonely’ stories he amassed along the way. Robinson Crusoe ticks all the Callinan boxes: Storytelling, dance mash-ups, acutely observed characters and dodgy but hilarious props.
Not content with waiting for people to come to him, Callinan discovered he could take the show to them by performing the show in packed lounge rooms and garages. The show is available at short notice in whatever room you can squeeze it into.
Adelaide Fringe Festival – Tuxedo Cat 2012
Melbourne International Comedy Festival – Melbourne Town Hall – 2012
Lounge room/Garage Tour – 2012
Joe Calleri – Herald Sun
DAMIAN Callinan is a rare, clean-cut, clean-mouthed comic you could take your parents to see without anyone cringing.
His show’s success is its simplicity – clever storytelling, costumes, party games, killer dance routines – and no smut.
Callinan compares his lonely childhood with famous castaway, Robinson Crusoe, and his dance routine recounting Crusoe’s tale, incorporating songs with lyrical references to islands, ocean and being stranded, is worth the ticket price.
Callinan transports us to various stages in his life from four to 46, sharing intimate, often heart-breaking stories. His final dance routine is a ripper.
This is a cute, clever one-man show, light-hearted entertainment with few pretentions: The perfect comedy recipe.
Tim Richards – The Ember
Damian Callinan’s show uses the ‘Robison Crusoe’ theme as a loose framing device to bring the story of his childhood and adolescence to the festival. Childhood reminiscences may sound like fairly standard fodder for comedy, and indeed they are, but Callinan’s klutzy appeal makes this show a relentlessly funny experience.
The sheer awkwardness of childhood and adolescence is nailed perfectly by Callinan. The premise for the show is a flashback to Callinan’s getting locked in his parents’ garage during primary school. This experience is a jumping-off point for a series of inspired revisitations, covering his primary school days to his late teens.
Callinan’s descriptions perfectly evoke late-70s/early-80s Australia. His early life – including going to church, tentatively flirting with girls, and myriad other rites of passage – is often described with a Wonder Years sepia wash, yet Callinan’s humble charm prevents the show from ever becoming soppy or excessively nostalgic. Callinan is comfortable recreating the adventures of his awkward young self, but he’s equally relieved to have left all that behind.
The final section is the show’s highlight. I won’t give anything away about Callinan’s sexual awakening, but the sketch dramatising the end of his childhood and the beginning of adulthood is achingly funny. By viewing his awkward teenage self with such obvious affection, Callinan avoids comedy-killing self-pity. This endearingly goofy show does something much better: it reminds everyone in the audience how excruciatingly hilarious growing up can be.