The Factory theatre played host to Victor Lee, a man given no more than two weeks’ notice to prepare his hilariously comedic, albeit sombre stand-up piece about the time he taught disabled kids in the Philippines to stand again. The title of his performance, ‘Lost and Found’, refers to his statement that he had ”lost his punchlines but found himself volunteering as a [physio]therapist in the Phillipines”.
Whilst at times the jokes were repetitive and reminiscent of your younger brother’s attempts to be funny – cute, worthy of a chuckle, but that’s about it – the rest of the show was thoroughly brilliant. Lee is charismatic, rocks tight skinnies, and knows how to work and interact with his audience.
While waiting for people to join us in the shipping container in which the performance was set, Lee sat and spoke with us, asking about our day and how we had come to know about the show. His seemingly genuine interest in our answers and presence carried on into the rest of his performance, and helped create a comfortable and not at all claustrophobic atmosphere within the tiny, dark container.
The show began with Lee perched on a stool, in relative darkness, typing words that appeared on a screen beside him. He introduced the idea that his show was a narrative, a story told from the perspective of real people with fictive names, whose interests centred on the disabled people in their care.
Two short videos were shown, one a typical go-pro experience of tourists jumping off waterfalls and seeing the sights, and another of people with twisted legs, pained expressions, and crying parents.. One moment you were laughing and the next you were crying, with Lee weaving us back and forth through these emotions with ease.
His jokes were tasteful, often self-deprecating and played on light-hearted stereotypes. They helped lighten the tension and rightfully sombre mood. When we looked at him, he said, all we saw was “dumpling, dumpling, dumpling!” However, when the Phillipino children saw him, all they saw was “meat pie, meat pie, meat pie!”
On his first day in the clinic, Lee felt something warm and slippery beneath his feet. A child had defecated on the floor, but in response to our horrified reactions he said that it was fine, that these things wash off and so there was no point in making a deal of it. By the end of the show he had converted us. A video of a young boy, laughing as he crawled his way across the floor to a chair two metres away, reaching his small hands up, grasping the chair and pulling himself up onto it, had us all in tears. Lee had shown us his dream, something so bittersweet that we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Victor Lee may think that he lost his punchlines, but what he helped us find was perspective. And that perspective is beautiful.