Possibly the best gag you'll ever see
Mixing mime and stand-up, The Boy with Tape on his Face is a very different kind of comedy. Its New Zealand- born creator Sam Wills reveals all to
SAM WILLS was given a magic set when he was 12, and after "making" his parents "watch the same tricks over and over", he found out that there was a clown in the neighbourhood doing shows. He knocked on his door and asked to be his assistant, and ever since has been filtering clowning, magic and vaudeville into his comedy act, which has more in common with Harold Lloyd and Memoirs of a Sword Swallower than it does traditional stand-up.
The Boy with Tape on his Face has been Wills's most popular project, and was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2010. He has become one of the festival's adopted sons, even though he only first brought the show there in 2010.
"My time in Edinburgh was great fun because I got to experience both aspects of the festival. I took a kids' show called The Prince of Cringe, as well as the evening show of The Boy . . . The kids' show was fun but we were not getting the audiences at all. So I would sell out and have standing ovations in the evening, only to be greeted with having to flyer for several hours in the morning to get five people to see the kids' show. I think that kept my feet very much on the ground."
In one sense, that is a typical Edinburgh experience, yet Wills had several years of success in New Zealand, before moving to London for a kind of re-imagining and re-emergence into a different kind of scene.
"New Zealand is a very supportive scene. One of the joys of my time in New Zealand was the fact that I could have an idea that afternoon and then make a call to the club owner and ask for a spot, and within seven hours, I would have found out if an idea worked. Over in London, you have to spend a lot longer waiting just to get stage time. I love living there, but I am very happy that I developed my act back home, and in Australia, as I do think that it helped me rise through the circuit a bit faster."
Wills's approach to comedy reflects a great love of Coney Island sideshows, carni-culture, and counterculture references - think Katherine Dunn's Geek Love expressed through stand-up; intelligent, playful and different.