The hero you didn’t know you needed

Can Garry Starr save Greece? (Aaron Walker)

Garry Starr is no longer just a disgraced, unemployable Shakespearean actor – having single-handedly saved performing arts from extinction in his debut show, he’s now back to save Greece from economic ruin.

Actor and comedian Damien Warren-Smith’s one man show Garry Starr: Greece Lightning is the award-winning follow-up to his internationally acclaimed Garry Starr Performs Everything, wherein Starr defied his naysayers and demonstrated every form of theatre imaginable.

A blend of comedy, clowning and a touch of the burlesque, Greece Lightning involves Warren-Smith’s hapless alter-ego bringing to life the entirety of Greek mythology (or “mythogyny”, as he pronounces it).

“Garry Starr started off as the host of a troop of clowns called the ‘Plague of Idiots’, and I was the kind of emcee boss clown character,” Warren-Smith explained.

“And we all went to clown school together in France and we formed this clown troupe travelling round and I was the boss clown. So, I was always the straight character, I was the one that they bounced off and we toured for a couple of years.

As the clown group continued to tour and perform, Warren-Smith’s role in the show began to develop into a fully-fledged character named Garry Starr.

After the troupe had disbanded someone suggested he do some solo comedy. The idea of a Garry Starr show began to take shape in Warren-Smith’s mind.

“I’ll pretend that the clown troop have all decided that they don’t want to work with me anymore, but I want to continue the show so I’m going to try and do the whole show on my own and it just went really well,” he said.

“People were like, you should continue doing this, so it was really funny because that made me such an idiot character that thinks he can do it all on his own, you know? Garry Starr just really grew from there.”

To add further dynamism to the show, Warren-Smith routinely invites audience members on stage to help save his Hellenic homeland, often with unforeseen and hilarious consequences.

“It’s chaos now that I thrive on,” he said.

“I love it when things go wrong, and I have to find my way around it. The audience loves that as well. I think one of the reasons people are drawn to watching improv is because there’s that element of danger.”

Garry Starr: Greece Lightning is at the Geelong Arts Centre on Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2.