“Barnie Duncan exquisitely takes comedy to a whole other level. Tap Head is not only out of the box, it is completely unmissable.”

Words Sarah Kidd

A tap walks into a bar and says…
Thanks to the genius mind of comedian Barnie Duncan, audiences of his scintillating Tap Head show will soon come to realise that a tap actually has quite a lot to say. He has hopes, dreams and a desire to be loved. Question is, don’t we all? Cleverly split between two separate characters, Duncan introduces us simultaneously to both stand-up comic Barnie Juancan who is perpetually running late and the main protagonist Tap Head, an ordinary tap who by day works in a public toilet while by evening he chases his fortunes at open mic comedy nights.

Duncan is an artist who is no stranger to the stage or screen, his performances at the Fringe Festival both here and overseas (especially when working with other such New Zealand talents as Trygve Wakenshaw) securing him prestigious awards on more than one occasion. Because of Duncan’s extensive credits and range, Tap Head embodies several different facets that make it stand apart from the rest. The theatre element to the production allowing Duncan to convey the actions and emotions of Tap Head brilliantly with sometimes something as simple as a few hand movements. Imagined scenery springs to life around him through his physical manoeuvres that have an impressive fluidity to them; ingenious sound effects designed by Daniel Nixon that emanate from a pretzel fed sound desk providing absolute laugh out loud moments.

It goes without saying, but anthropomorphism is a feature of this show that when moulded by someone as insightful as Duncan pulls the audience in, particular scenes eliciting emotional reactions from attendees that go beyond the realms of straight laughter. References to Juancans’ mother and her conversations with cups a statement on the beauty of youth, or just clever wordplay on the observations of everyday items. Do we as humans just naturally see our own characteristics within objects, or are we deliberately seeking them out, our desire for and to feel empathy part of our biological coding?
When Juancan appears absurdity and surrealism curl around the part mime/theatre/stand-up production, his dreamlike anecdotes often loaded with classic punchlines that occasionally border on the periphery of ‘dad jokes’ drawing you into something a little deeper, the meaning of which you may need to unpack yourself to discover. Juancans’ routine often sidestepping into outstanding musical interludes that swing between Berlin techno and the stirring vocalisations of Ultravox.

Witty as it is commanding, amusing as it is poignant; Barnie Duncan exquisitely takes comedy to a whole other level. Tap Head is not only out of the box, it is completely unmissable