Local comedian Brandon J Mannarino makes his audience get up and dance before his set, and when it actually commences he is disarmingly relaxed; he chews gum the entire the time.
On the particular night we saw the show, the informality of it all had the cumulative effect of loosening us all up. It worked. We were readier to laugh.
If a show isn’t going well, there can often be a feeling in the room that there is an ever-widening gulf between audience and performer. When we saw Depression and Shoelaces, the atmosphere was warm and inclusive. Not to mention that Mannarino is a bloody hilarious, true blue Aussie comedic talent.
His show is structured around his personal history and it is, in a way, an investigation into why he thinks he developed depression. Depression and Shoelaces delves into stories about childhood bullying and alienation, as well as times in Mannarino’s life where he has felt depressed to the point of being suicidal.
Mannarino should be commended for wanting to tackle the issue of mental illness in his show, given that it is still seen as somewhat taboo to openly discuss one's mental health issues, even in 2016.
You might think that this does not make for promising comedic content, and of course there are moments in the show that are bleak. But in Mannarino’s capable hands we are induced into stomach-ache laughs at most of the things he says, ranging from an astute observation about “Burnside Mums” through to an impression of Colonel Sanders (they are all obliquely related to depression, trust me).
Depression and Shoelaces may be a show about depression, but you will leave it feeling exhilarated.
Depression and Shoelaces will be running until March 6