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The New & Improved Dave Hill

Surreal storytelling comedian takes a new tack -- a show without guests.

The thing I hadn’t realized about Dave Hill as a performer, in retrospect, looking back at my 2006 review of his “Dave Hill Explosion” show, is how he used to cloak his comedic ability in a seeming lack of confidence. With his new show, “Dave Hill: Big In Japan,” seen at the UCB Theatre Aug. 20, that hesitation is all gone.

The conceit of Hill’s new show is an imagined world where his amateurish hard rock band is “big in Japan,” revered like gods. Hill tells his story through a combination of slides, musical performance and monologue, sometimes wielding an electric guitar, at which he’s quite adept -- playing Van Halen-style solos with great dexterity between anecdotes and at points even taking requests to prove he really can play and the music isn’t taped.

But Hill’s show is not a rock show and he hasn’t lost any of his surrealism either. Between “rocking the fuck out of people” in Japan, as he repeatedly puts it with his newfound confidence, he has strange encounters with Japanese toilets, becoming fascinated with a combination toilet-bidet, a testament to Japanese efficiency.

In fact, Hill professes to be as much in awe of the Japanese as they are of him. “They take photos of us all the time because they can’t believe how retarded we are,” he says, adding. “They’re just better people than we are. They’re super-positive all the time and really excited about everything.”

It’s hard to figure out where Hill’s comedic style comes from and one shouldn’t try. The one thing that’s sure is anytime one sees Dave Hill, he’s sure to amuse. In this latest show, he’s foregone all the guests and brought the focus more squarely on himself. The only other player on stage is a stagehand who handles his guitar and equipment, and at one point brings out a mirror for Hill to admire himself. He’s definitely ready for his close-up.




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