Hans is a local phenomenon.
That may seem like an overstatement but the sold out crowd may beg to differ between their screams and shouts of approval at Adelaide’s German Club on Friday night.
For more than a decade, Matt Gilbertson has been making a name for himself as the faux-German host, guest, and solo artist who first became known at the Weimar Room – the original home of the Cabaret Fringe Festival.
Disclaimer up front – the festival’s program listed Han’s Haus Party as a 40-minute show but that was only the duration of the first Act. I had to leave at interval due to other commitments as the show also started 20 minutes late.
Act two seemed set for lots of Beyoncé when Hans promised to deliver on emailed song requests and, after the first half, it was a sight I wished I could stay to see.
If you don’t know Gilbertson’s campy diva, Hans, then you don’t know nuthin’. He’s a dancer, a comedian, a bitch and the bae you wish you had. His dancing girls are called The Lucky Bitches and his five-member band is called The Ungrateful Bastards. Enuf said. No matter how good they are, this is all about him.
Hans can work an audience and, while he won’t win a Grammy, he can work a song just as much, whether it’s Minaj or Minogue. His tongue-in-cheek chatter takes a stab at Catholics, ISIS and chatty Italians in the audience. He can twerk and talk in equal measures and have the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.
Over the years, Hans has earned a loyal following that brings the haus down with their cheers when he brings out the accordion – which he plays to specific audience members. Other than those few numbers, the first Act was up tempo and hysterically funny.
Despite an acidic tongue against politicians and religion, Hans shows genuine affection for his guests, Bund Der Bayern, the German Club’s own Bavarian dance troupe who begin traditionally but devolve into comedy choreography to rapturous applause.
There’s a lot of audience singing, both invited and otherwise, as Hans delivers a songbook of modern and classic hits but honestly, it’s his banter in between that makes him a star. His quick wit can deliver a joke just as effectively as it can interact with the audience.
Hans down, he’s a winner with a predominantly straight, older audience lapping up his fabulously gay gaiety. Watch out for him in the future if you haven’t dared undress him with your eyes yet.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating (out of 5): 4
Where: The German Club, 223 Flinders Street, Adelaide
When: 26 June 2015 only
- Cabaret Fringe Festival
- Hans’ Haus Party
- Hans – official website
- Hans on YouTube
- The German Club, Adelaide
- Bund Der Bayern on Facebook