Sam Wills: The Boy with Tape on his Face

The Classic, Auckland

21/05/2007 - 26/05/2007

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details

Sam Wills

Back with a brand new show SAM WILLS is proving to be one of the most prolific and inventive comedians in New Zealand.

Originally trained at the circo-arts school in Christchurch, WILLS turned his array of talents to the comedy stage both shocking and amusing audiences with his unique brand on physical comedy. WILLS has broken the stigma attached to so called ‘prop comics’ by proving there is more to his act than a bag of tricks.

In 2005 he won the Billy T Comedy Award for his solo show ‘DANCE MONKEY BOY’ a loosely biographical story of his formative years incorporating his many comic talents.

To follow up in 2006 he invented a brand new character, THE BOY WITH TAPE ON HIS FACE, an act that challenges his fellow comedians who are never short of something to say for THE BOY performs his entire show mute with a piece of gaffer tape across his mouth. Reaction from audiences has been astounding and recognition from his peers winning him the 2006 NZ Comedy Guild Award for Best New Show.

Now THE BOY WITH TAPE ON HIS FACE will enjoy his first full Comedy Festival season with 6 nights at The CLASSIC.

Theatre , Comedy , Solo ,

1 hr

Sam Wills ‘has’ the audience from start to finish

Review by Jacob Powell 23rd May 2007

How does someone with their mouth taped shut make you laugh? Is it through the kind of physical comedy reminiscent of old-time silent movies? God, please don’t let it be an hour or so of straight mime!

But dammit if Sam Wills doesn’t amble out onto stage on the opening night of his show, The Boy With Tape On His Face, dressed in a broad horizontal striped top that instantly puts you in mind of a French mime! That his accompanying (and routine filler) music was the soundtrack to the Jean-Pierre Jeunet film Amélie reinforced this association.

But Wills has taken the challenge of reworking mime by the horns to produce a show that is fresh, entertaining, and has an obvious point of difference to many of the other acts at this year’s festival. [Read more]


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Mad scientist of vaudevillian pranks

Review by Sian Robertson 22nd May 2007

He’s not just a guy with a mic, though he does have a mic and never once uses it: The Boy With Tape On His Face does his entire set mute.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, possibly lots of miming, re-enactments with minimalist props, a one man game of charades? Actually, the show relies on a plethora of well-chosen props, a soundtrack of whimsically-chosen pop tunes, and a smattering of mischievously-chosen audience members. And no, he doesn’t get his audience to do his talking for him, he gets them to dress up, hold props and sit in strange positions.

While still wacky physical theatre, Sam Wills’ new show is less extreme than his stunts of the past (such as squeezing his body through a tennis racket or hammering a four inch nail up his nose). Gone are the shock tactics: the cringe fest is replaced with a more subdued, reflective brand of physical comedy, his circus school background showing through in a Chaplinesque (but, thankfully, slapstick-free) one-man pantomime. A Jim Henson-created Buster Keaton Muppet springs to mind.

Theme tunes are put to good use – though the show lets itself down, I think, relying on the audience’s knowledge of movie soundtracks, pop songs, etc. There were times when I was lost at sea, with only enough going on to make the sketch mildly funny in and of itself. I know you can’t please everyone, but it’s a bit frustrating when someone else is getting the joke and you’re busy racking your brains for some clue, some reminder, some whiff of recognition of a cheesy scene in a bad movie you possibly saw once and probably didn’t see the end of… Okay, I’m exaggerating (comedy does that to me), there’s more to Boy With Tape than an excess of showbiz puns, so I’ll go with: beware of in-jokes.

Wills takes us on a romp through his swag of entertaining visual gags, approaching his craft with a zany, childlike inventiveness and deftly handling a compliant capacity audience. Captivating, despite not constantly generating a roomful of guffaws, he often takes his time to build up to ‘punch lines’ with a self-contained, deliberate preparation of the scene, finally breaking the suspense with his next hilarious and unpredictable manoeuvre.

Sam Wills is a hard working performer who’s not afraid to take risks, do something off-beat, occasionally ingenious and sometimes, well, cute. It’s amazing how expressive his face is, despite being half covered with black gaffer tape. He reminds me that life is an adventure, down to the most seemingly trivial discoveries – if you’re resourceful. This very likeable mad scientist of vaudevillian pranks brings us a tightly tailored and memorable show that will stand out in this year’s laugh fest.

The one hour set went quickly and I could have happily digested half as much again – a sentiment that I seem to have shared. When he announced (via a talking ventriloquist’s ‘dummy’) that the show was over, rather than obliging with applause, the audience let out a collective exclamation of disappointment.


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