It takes a certain degree of self-confidence for a performer to simulate having sex with himself on stage – never mind if he’s decked out in a blue Lycra suit and an aluminium foil helmet. But Marek Platek says his suggestive show is all part of physical comedy.
“I like to involve myself in the jokes and physically just go really over the top.”
Worm Hole is Platek’s third show, performed at North Melbourne’s Club Voltaire, as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. The performance centred on the adventures of a time traveller from a distant future, ruled by Poland, whose actions inconceivably change the past, but not in the way Hollywood blockbusters would have us imagine.
“Some people often have the idea of going back and changing things, their mistakes or changing the past to make a better world,” Platek says.
Worm Hole tosses the heroic time traveller cliché aside. Platek’s unnamed character spends much of his time bragging about life in the future and his only notable contribution is changing the price of dim sims.
“It’s quite funny because people will expect the show to be like Back to the Future when Marty McFly goes back in time to save Doc Brown, whereas I go back in time and change the past by accidently increasing the price of dim sims. They go from 50 cents to 90 cents,” he says.
A fast food price hike is hardly irreversible damage, but travelling back in time to meet, and have sex with, his past self, inevitably leads to Platek nursing a broken heart.
But he dismisses the intimate moments with himself onstage as worm hole-induced tangents, saying excessive time travel fried his character’s mind. “There are a lot of tangents but I blame them on the wormhole, because one of the side effects of travelling through a wormhole, as a use of time travel, is you come out with wormholes in your brain,” he says.
Even when armed with his exaggerated swagger, Platek’s character was at times upstaged by his own obscenely skin tight, blue Lycra suit.
But the suit itself has a history: it’s featured in both of its wearer’s previous shows. For Platek this was reason enough to bring the suit back for his third stint at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
“My first show was called Adventures in the Blue Lycra Suit and I really wanted to bring that suit back because one of the characters in Party at My House, my show last year, is called Domestos the Acid Fairy and he wears the suit. People love the suit,” he says.
People might love the suit, but they also love Platek. He’s recently acquired his first diehard fans, a young couple from Brunswick who attend nearly every show. It’s a small following and his shows never sell out, but the man in the blue Lycra suit isn’t fazed. Even when faced with an audience of just eight, he was unperturbed and began to jokingly spruik his character’s new book, complete with an impressive mock cover.
In Club Voltaire’s foyer Platek is warm and engaging, happy to compete with the loud screams heralding the show before his that evening. It becomes clear how much time he has invested into Worm Hole when Platek explains the popularity of the sci-fi genre, his speech is littered with scientific terms and sci-fi jargon.
“There’s the theory of general relativity and all these scientific formulas that show that wormholes can exist. Things like time travel, parallel universes, warp speed and the speed of light. I think people’s imaginations can always relate to that as a really great basis for stories and movies. You can do anything with sci-fi.”
“I’ve done a fair bit of research about time travel and parallel universes, but I didn’t want it to be too science-orientated,” he says.
It’s not easy juggling a full-time job with Fringe Festival commitments, but Platek’s day job isn’t something you’d expect either.
“You’ve got to do everything; I’m my own producer and I work full time as well…I’m a land surveyor, so I stand behind the instrument on the tripod and I’m constantly talking to myself, just pushing buttons and thinking up ideas for shows.”
Next year the stand up comedian, who earned his stripes hosting trivia nights for six years, plans to employ his own producer and take Worm Hole to the Melbourne Festival.
If you’ve ever wondered what those people with tripods on the side of the road are doing, they’re probably writing comedy shows.