Every festival there are a few hidden gems to reward the punter who ventures beyond the big names and the major venues. Dave Wiggins is one of those gems. Tucked away in the cosy student common room at Victoria Uni on Flinders Lane (a room which, incidentally, deserves the award for comfiest couches of the festival), Wiggins spins his stories with deceptive ease.
Wiggins is an antipodean American. From Maine initially, Wiggins made the move to New Zealand a few years back after he married a Kiwi girl. Now he's doing a stint in Melbourne with warm up act and buddy, er, mate, Michael Connell. Wiggins' material is based heavily on cross-cultural comparisons between the US, Australia and New Zealand. Having spent a decent amount of time in all three countries, he is well placed to get below the surface and understand the idiosyncrasies of each culture.
A lot of the humour comes from the lay back, dare I say very Australian, style of Wiggins. Though playing to a smallish crowd, he's not desperately eager to impress. He's a bloke having an Australian holiday, and telling a few gags while he's at it. Some of them work, some of them flop, but all the way through Wiggins is clearly enjoying himself. You'd be a sad sad person not to enjoy yourself as well.
Wiggins is the master of planting seeds. Not in the "lock up your daughters" sense, but in the sense that he loves to drop in an innocuous line early on, only to come back to it at the most unexpected of moments. It's a devise he uses to great effect.
His warm-up act Michael Connell is also worth a big mention. Unlike Wiggins, Connell is a local, a proud of it. He shows particular affection for Frankston and Nunawading, two of this city's most memorable suburbs. There's something very authentic and unpretentious about Connell's delivery, telling it like it is, including some very clever observations on gender that take a familiar topic and give it a new slant. Connell is definitely one to watch, and acts as the perfect lead in to Wiggins.