Having never been to Australia, Danielle Walker paints a unique picture of life down under in, ‘Bush Rat’. Whilst tales of self-dug graves, worming, and questionable politicians don’t automatically paint North Queensland as the ideal holiday destination, they do make for an insightful hour of comedy with charming illustrations bringing Walker’s mind to life.
Luring the audience into a false pretence of wholesome comedy, Danielle Walker opens the set by presenting her family-tree through projected illustrations. Firstly, we are introduced to her Grandfather, a questionably rational man who dug his own grave in attempt to save money and converted it into a swimming pool to escape the clutches of his wife. Bit different from your usual war-telling, Werther’s Original Grandfather. The family-tree does grow more conventional with tales of Walker’s mother attempting to give up swearing, and her father refusing to remove his wrap-around sunglasses. Both tales gaining light-hearted chuckles.
Illustrations weren’t solely used with the purpose of introducing her family but also her surreal ideas, which varied in reception. Through Walker’s eyes, the pinnacle of her ideas was to replace the limbs of her Grandfather’s hunted prey with wheels. Whilst the first drawing of a wheeled-pig evoked a few sniggers, this laughter diminished with each additional slide. Being observational, Walker admitted this was a trend of most shows, which begged the question; why insist on including redundant material? On the other hand, illustrations of a horse and jockey were also used to teach her sisters about consent. Justifiably receiving the loudest laugh of the night, these images didn’t just rely on surrealism to evoke laughter, but also creativity and wit.
With respect to Walker, as this show was her debut in London, she did well to maintain audience interest using techniques other than projections. Namely, stories and gags followed with purposefully awkward, and manic laughter. Ordinarily, a habit like this could prove annoying, however, given its well-timed appearance it often evoked further amusement. Another technique Walker relied on was relatability. The unfamiliarity of life in North Queensland to a London audience emphasised the funnier side to her stories. However, the only Australian member in the audience was struggling to breathe with laughter, implying how crucial relatability was within her set. With this in mind, it isn’t a surprise that she won Best Newcomer at Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2018. How the show performs in London will dictate how pivotal this technique is for Walker.
Bearing the above in mind, and as a debut show, Bush Rat did strike me as more of a work in progress. However, it also gave London a necessary taste of Walker’s unique style and strengths. It will be interesting to explore how the comedian develops following this set. Hopefully with the inclusion of more witty illustrations, tailored material, and her signature laugh.