Damian Callinan: Swing Man

comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Damian Callinan
Published 04 Mar 2018

Damian Callinan is well known for telling jokes, but who knew he could dance?

We begin with 17-year-old Callinan’s abduction by aliens, who order him to learn swing dancing by the time he is 51 to save their homeworld... or something. As he dryly says, alien abductions usually only happen to comedians in search of a narrative device.

This makes for an excuse to recount his favourite dance-related anecdotes from his youth – from ballroom dancing to bush dances – as part of a quest to cure his OTTDS (Over The Top Dance Syndrome). Other acronym gags include the DGB (Deliberate Boob Grab).

There’s also a “whatcha talking ‘bout willis” reference, some mockery of Spice Girls fans and Benny Hill chase scenes. If this sounds badly advised and all based on an indulgently nostalgic premise for a show, Swing Man absolutely delivers on its lack of promise.

Callinan does reveal his natural talent for comedy in occasional improvised banter with the audience. In these moments the show feels less awkward than the parts which are scripted. And Callinan is game, as is his talented, though underused, co-star Genevieve Wallis. But for all their enthusiasm, and sharp moves on the dance floor, it can't overcome there is very little to work with here.