No one knew exactly what to expect when entertainer Robert Post stepped onto the stage at the Performing Arts Centre in Stettler on Sunday, March 30, other than it was a one-man comedy show.
By intermission, though, the crowd knew one thing: Post is funny.
“I think he’s wonderful,” audience member Joe Baltimore said during intermission. “It’s pretty incredible to go to a show any sort without profanity being a large part of it.”
Baltimore, who bought a season pass to the Stettler Variety Showcase, of which Post’s performance was the fifth of six shows this season, said that Post entertained him like some of the greats he knew of growing up, like Red Skelton.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I think the whole program so far is pretty amazing.”
Post, who hails from Ohio, relied on facial expression, props and what at times seemed to be absolutely liquid bones to entertain the audience.
Whether it was mime, ventriloquism, sleight-of-hand or his dry sense of humour, the audience was absolutely entranced.
Post’s show opened with a mime act of Burt the unlucky burglar, who in the course of breaking in and robbing a person, was bitten by a dog, tripped over a cat, woke the baby and had the window fall on his head.
It was easy to follow the narrative of the story through the use of Post’s exceptional mime work, ventriloquist-sound effects, and his expressive face.
He also made excellent use of props throughout his act, whether it was dancing with a pair of bright red long-johns or investigating a murder while playing six different roles with the use of hats, wigs and accents, all facilitated by a black board on wheels.
During the act, Post kept up an easy dialogue with the audience, teasing them for being so quietly absorbed by him and later making faces when they applauded – because he had dropped his juggling sticks. The crowd ate it up, being sure to provide polite applause when Post completed the fancy juggling tricks, only to genuinely and loudly applaud when he dropped or fumbled his tricks. Not that he did much of that.
He also talked about how his job as an entertainer brought him all over the world and how he’s seen lots of big things, like the biggest truck. The audience gladly advised he should make the trip up to Donalda to see the Big Lamp before he leaves the idea.
Post also tried out a new part of his act, one he said he’s only used three times to date. His act started, and resumed after intermission, with short videos that included insight and humour from his different journeys as an entertainer.
“I’m in Alberta,” he said in one clip. “It’s…” and was blown off screen by the wind. This elicited genuine amusement from the full house, who knows well about the strong winds received in the area at times.
It was Post’s final act that really got the audience going, however. Opening with an upbeat song that at times elicited reminders of Justin Timberlake and mainstream pop, Post as Pasquale the Cooking Show Chef entered the stage.
There, through a mix of sleight-of-hand and props, Post slid bowls and plates and pots and pepper and salt shakers around, seemingly without effort.
An explosive end of the act, when the “oven” fizzled, made the crowd gasp and then laugh, and loud and sincere applause for the comedic entertainer closed down the show.
“It was wonderful,” Mary-Lou Manson said as crews swept up the “explosion” on stage. She and her friend Debbie McNab took in the afternoon matinee performance. “He was really, really entertaining.. I liked the chef part the most – it was very funny.”
The laughter and enjoyment had by the audience is why Post performs, he said.
“Just watching anyone when I was young that was really skilled (inspired me),” he said. “I thought they were born with it.”
It’s hard work, though, and that effort appealed to Post, who is naturally athletic.
“I think I was attracted to the physical part of it,” he explained. He studied dance and acting as part of pursuing his dream, something that showed during his ballet skit, just one of many very different aspects of the show.
“The idea is not the secret,” he said. “What you do with it is a secret.”
Post said he was glad to see a mix of ages in the crowd, from the young to the elderly, but admitted that while travelling across Canada and the United States he’s seen a change where the audience is becoming older. It’s one of the reasons why he started to incorporate videos into his act.
“It’s scary to think of what it’ll be like in 10 years,” he admitted. “If you want to be a performer, learn everything you can. Don’t limit yourself to one thing – those days are done.”
The next, and final show of the 2013-14 Stettler Variety Showcase is on Sunday, May 4. Lynae and Denis Dufresne, known as the band Pear, will bring their country act to the Performing Arts Centre for two shows, a matinee and evening performance.
Tickets are also on sale for next year’s Variety Showcase. For $110, adults receive tickets to the dinner performance and five shows. Without the dinner, cost is $80. Student season tickets are $55 and $40 respectively. Tickets can also be purchased at Pfeiffer House of Music in Stettler for each show.
For more information, visit www.stettlershowcase.com.