Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Tape Face

Silence is golden. It’s also funny. Very funny. “The funniest show in Las Vegas.” 




Indulge me in some context…


When I was living in Auckland, whenever I would eat out, I could always spot American diners. Actually “hear” any American feasters may be more apropos: they were always loud, ready to engage the world, and they always exuded confidence.


We had an expression for such overseas visitors: loudmouthed Yanks.


Not the most polite term, I do admit, but one applied (at least in my case) from envy, and an unconscious desire to have a voice…a unique creative voice.


Ironically, this past Saturday (February 5, 2022), in an American location, I observed silent Kiwi prop comic, busker, clown, and mime Sam Wills speak volumes. 


A loudmouthed Kiwi? 


Hardly. He has black duct tape over his mouth, and is the star of the Tape Face show currently playing in Harrah’s Las Vegas.


For Christmas Past, I let Santa and his familial agents know that at the top of my wish list was a desire to see the Tape Face act. I had followed Tape Face on social media, seen the America’s Got Talent 2016 videos, and wanted to experience the silent treatment en vivo. After making the Nice List and receiving two TF tickets, it was time for a Vegas road trip! 

Post show: The challenge in writing this review is, as the website states, “simply mentioning any aspect of this diverse show would be a disservice—the less you know, the more you will enjoy this show.”




However, it would be remiss of me not to mention how much of the performance is fuelled by audience participation under the skilled and honed craftsmanship of Tape Face. It’s almost formulaic: a sprinkle of Kiwi ingenuity+household props you’d find in your kitchen, closets, and garage+engaged audience=PerdónWhat happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.


Okay, okay, no need to pack a sad. I will reveal that at the beginning of the performance I saw, as an air of anticipatory excitement surged through the crowd, an announcer did advise the audience of their esprit de corps responsibility, and encouraged those picked by Tape Face to play along and “not be a dick.” 

Fortunately, there were no mean-spirited patrons at the act I attended. I would say everyone, at some unconscious level, wanted to share the stage with Tape Face (projection, yes; you’re next).


This collective, “unspoken” desire was realized in a tension-building, race-against-the-clock final skit in which the entire audience did participate with Tape Face.


We all left the theatre engaged, enthralled, and entertained!


But wait—there’s more—at least for me.


For the past week since leaving Las Vegas, several thoughts have been playing in my mind as I reminisce about the show:


What was the creative process in which Sam Wills came up with the Tape Face character?


Secondly, as an author, one who frequently frolics in the world of make-believe, I’d like to ask Tape Face: “So, mate, what happened? The unkempt hair, the bulging eyes, the duct tape over the mouth? Two thugs jump you backstage? Your parents were old school and believed ‘children should be seen and not heard’? Or are you a punk-rock performer, silently raging against stereotype and conformity?”


“No comment.”


Outspoken English television personality Simon Cowell did remark in AGT 2016, “But you’re like Mr. Bean, or Charlie Chaplin, so, so recognizable. I like the fact I’ve got no idea who you are, and I never want to know. I like that.”




Some things are better left unsaid.


Good Night, Mr. Donut

I have a new illustrated children's book: