STAND-UP comic Dave Bloustien has introduced horror stories into his new comedy show, Grand Guignol, at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
His show has been inspired by the Grand Guignol horror theatre of Paris, which operated from 1897 to 1962 and was famous for staging plays with gruesome themes.
“It was hugely popular during its time,” says Bloustien. “The challenge for me was to come up with stories that were funny and scary.”
In Grand Guignol, two people get lost at a comedy festival and face a series of adventures when they enter a small theatre called the Grand Guignol.
“There are more laughs than horror in the show,” Bloustien insists. “I have a blog where I write horror stories and one of them was about the time I worked in a cafe in Bondi Junction. It got a great response so I included it in the show and it has become one of my favourite parts of the show.”
Grand Guignol is at the Melbourne Trades Hall until April 7 and features puppets designed by Henson-trained Lana Schwarcz, as well as music by Jewish musician Peter Hollo of the FourPlay String Quartet.
“This is the most elaborate production that I have ever done – normally it is just me and a microphone for an hour.”
Last month, Bloustien, who lives in Sydney, was at the Adelaide Fringe Festival – where he made his stand-up comedy debut 10 years ago – fine-tuning Grand Guignol.
In Adelaide he performed two shows back-to-back, which proved a challenge.
“I did Grand Guignol at 8.30pm and then had to run to the other side of town to do Social Contract on a boat as we went up and down the river for an hour,” he explains.
“I felt like a great comedian because I was getting so much time on stage!”
The Social Contract is based on a true incident when he was threatened with a lawsuit after a bad gig and went to court to prove he was funny.
Bloustien is taking The Social Contract to Auckland for the 21st New Zealand International Comedy Festival from May 8-11.
“It’s the first time I am performing in Auckland and I’m very excited about it,” he says.
“My day job is as a comedy writer where I sit behind a desk, but I really enjoy getting out on stage and performing stand-up comedy.”
Bloustien is also performing in the inaugural Jewish Comedy Showcase as part of the Sydney Comedy Festival being staged at the Comedy Store on April 30.
Grand Guignol is at Melbourne Trades Hall, until April 7. Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au.
REPORT by Danny Gocs
PHOTO of Dave Bloustien