Have you heard the one about the comedian that doesn’t speak?
Well it’s no joke for New Zealand comedian Sam Wills, aka The Boy, who has been gaining international acclaim, and some of the comedy world’s most prestigious awards. for his silent stand-up.
“I think comedy audiences wanted a breath of fresh air,” said 34-year-old Wills.
“They’ve become over-saturated with comedy panel shows so I thought I’d try something a little different.
“I’d had a substantial comedy career before this, so knowing what audiences responded to helped.
“It was only done as a five minute slot, I never expected it to be as big as it has been.”
With a piece of duct tape over his mouth to stop him talking, Wills mixes stand-up, music, prop comedy, mime and puppetry, to create his unique and hilarious act.
But he said being funny came in all forms.
“I try to avoid the mime word- it brings out associations of walking against the wind in a stripy top.
“Professional comedy is just watching someone do something funny.
“But I’m always trying to evolve it. It keeps it interesting for me too.”
Much of the show centres on audience participation, with Wills gently persuading a slightly confused audience member to become the punchline of his next joke.
It harks back to his street-performance and circus days. He studied at a circus school in New Zealand for two years where he majored in juggling and clowning, before touring on the carnival-comedy circuit.
“Lots of the skills I picked up as a street performer, it’s the bungee jumping of comedy. After you’ve done it, there’s no turning back.
“You know when people have stopped in the street to watch you, they can walk away at any time.” Wills moved to Britain three years ago and after sell out shows at the annual Edinburgh Fringe, he’s embarking on a UK tour.
“I think the UK has a very long history for comedy. In New Zealand we’re still finding our feet.
“We have more alternative acts, like Flight of the Concords.
“UK audiences are a wee bit more comedy savvy.”
The Boy with Tape on his Face will be playing at Glee in Birmingham on October 21.
For tickets, visit www.glee.co.uk/birmingham.