Orlando Fringe 2022 review: 'My Dad's Deaths'

As side-splittingly outrageous as his material may be, his love for his dad is genuinely touching.

Australian comic Jon Bennett has traveled the world pretending things are his cock, done a one-man show about his incarcerated meth-addict brother, and generally done everything possible to make his conservative father embarrassed of him; this hilariously hyperactive PowerPoint-based rant practically ensures he’ll be written out of the will.

My Dad’s Deaths details with mirthful meticulousness the many ways Bennett’s dad has very nearly bought the farm — ironic, as he’s a pig farmer — from falling off a ladder on the day of Jon’s birth to choking himself unconscious on soda water bubbles to contracting a disease from drinking pig urine. When he wasn’t busy having near-death experiences, Bennett’s dad busied himself making his son’s life a living hell, in the way that only someone who is simultaneously your parent, teacher, coach and minister could do.

Bennett’s father wanted him to be a bush poet, like Aussie hero Banjo Paterson, but Jon wasn’t cut out to write endless unrhymed verse about horses; birthday poems that liken childbirth to “masturbating with a baby-sized dildo” are more his speed. But as side-splittingly outrageous as his material may be, the love he expresses for his dad throughout the jabs is genuinely touching. As their relationship develops, I became emotionally invested almost to the point of tears, until the twist-ending epilogue pulled the rug out from under me.

Embarrassing — and being embarrassed by — our parents is a universal experience everyone can identify with, and Bennett’s take on the topic provides some of the biggest laughs (and feels) to be found at the Fringe.

[This is an updated version of a review originally published in 2015.]

Tickets and show info: Jon Bennett: My Dad's Deaths

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