First Published on

Dave Bloustien is an award-winning comedy writer, “grand-champion improvisor, lover, fighter, candlestick-maker, amateur sleuth, and professional derring-doer” according to his website- it also turns out he studied Philosophy- and it’s a good thing too- his show for the Sydney Comedy Festival “A Complete History of Western Philosophy” is based on it.

Dressed in waist coat, and rolled shirt sleeves, Bloustien looks like a thinker- his fringe a wild static spray- as if the synapses within his skull are firing at such a rate –his hair has been affected. He’s dapper. He’s charming. A super-hero for Philosophy geeks everywhere… this isn’t some bawdy college routine filled with vomit jokes fuelled by an apathy towards hygiene and the world. No. This is an elegant tracking of Western thinking by an elegant thinker. This is refined, schooled and accurate. Some would say the opposite to a lot of contemporary comedy stand up routines.

Aware of his surroundings- Bloustien’s set starts off tentatively. Not an easy job for a stand up comic to face a sober crowd at Australia’s formidable Institute for Dramatic Art- but he is saved by his disclaimer that if the show isn’t funny, then “it’s theatre.” Also aware that the show is part lecture, part routine. It isn’t a show completely about Western Philosophy. It does contain a history of Western Philosophy- and he manages to contain the headlining philosophers (and a few support Philosophers): Socrates, Plato, Galileo, Descartes, Montaigne, Derrida. And the timeline is the framework on which he hangs his comedy- his observations about the contemporary world which include examinations of racism, a stpory about an ornate pipe he bought in the middle east, reflections of being brave for/ infront of his pony-enthusiast daughter, anecdotes from his hometown of Adelaide… and this material is fun.

He’s self referencial in a Derridian way- making comments about editing the routine as he’s performing it. He’s sweetly self aware in a sort of Cartesian way- he tells jokes therefore he is. And asks the audience to remind him of the names of some of the philosphers when he’s forgotten their names – Socratic method methinks? So we have a first hand encounter with these ways of thinking. And it is delightful.

This is the second time I have seen Bloustien, the first being at the Newtown RSL in 2007. What I liked about him then, and this still is true, is that he is a joyful comic- sweet and friendly and slightly awkward- but the type of comic you want to hang out with and you want to laugh with. He’s not terrifying- if you needed to go to the bathroom mid way through his show, he’s not going to yell at you.. he may just shrug his shoulders and feel bad. He’s a nice guy- with an interesting mind- and some fantastic one liners. And this is a show for cerebral audiences- and if you are cerebral- or would like to impress your date with some intellectual comedy that teeters on the edge of a lecture or theatrical performance of Philosophy 101’s crib notes – Bloustien is the man for you.