Thursday 22 March 2018

The Comic tale of unexpected cash

Dozens of $100 bills line the floor of the Olympia Theatre. The pre-show soundtrack is an awkward yet appropriate mix of money-obsessed tunes (Aloe Blacc's I Need a Dollar, a dodgy Pink Floyd cover, etc). And then there are the T-shirts. Ah yes, Mr Patrick Combs has many T-shirts, each carrying a separate, and often comic, slogan. You know, to fit whatever mood he's in.

Tonight, they'll appear in chronological order, as the man who pulled off one hell of a prank takes us back to his San Francisco apartment in 1995 -- the day he received a junk-mail cheque for $95,093.35.

Combs was a young, 20-something go-getter who had yet to actually go anywhere. What's more, he was up to his ears in debt. So, for the hell of it, Patrick decided to lodge said cheque, despite the fact that a) it was clearly a 'sample' cheque (it said so on the face) and b) he had scribbled a smiley face on the back of it. Clearly, the bank didn't notice. The money was credited to Patrick's account -- Combs was now $95,000 better off.


Indeed, it's an incredible story, made every bit more enjoyable by the bizarre turn of events that followed. But what stands out about Combs' tale is that every word -- every document he shows us with the help of a PowerPoint presentation -- is true. The bank's reaction; the retired lawyer who assisted Patrick; the worldwide media interest. In fact, Combs was quite a star because of this story before he ever had the notion of selling it to theatre audiences.

These days, the floppy-haired entrepreneur makes his living as an inspirational speaker. And it's easy to see why. Even in a T-shirt and jeans, Combs has a tremendous presence -- a likeable character that comes across even when his audience should be questioning what kind of grown man would waste his time flirting with the law in such a childish manner. But it's not childish.

The way Patrick tells it, it's just excellent humour; a joke that got out of hand -- the story that just kept on giving. And what a magnificent storyteller he is. Very few props are needed such is the power of Combs' delightful delivery and terrific comic timing. A superb one-man show. HHHHI

At the Olympia Theatre until Sunday

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