20 October, Spiegeltent, HBAF18 By Toby Blakey
Wilson Dixon is the comedic persona of Kiwi comedian Jesse Griffin. And Dixon – in his own words – is part cowboy, part country singer and one-fifth Village People.
In a very funny show, Dixon paints a vivid picture of his family with twin brothers Dennis and Dennis, intellectually stunted brother Jethro and Jesus-mimicking Uncle Cleetus all brought to life through hilarious anecdotes (think trailer trash hicks, think Deliverance).
Dixon’s retelling of the conversation he had with his brother about why taking a bus to New Zealand wasn’t really possible and the yarn about how he trained for the long-haul flight in his living room (waking up at 3am to have lunch) were wonderful.
Channeling a strong Matthew McConaughey accent, he told us of the exes Maureen and Rebachel (sic) who inspired his album I love you but want to hurt you and particularly the track “That thing you do but I wish you wouldn’t”.
Each song drew on Dixon’s insights and observations of life but they were second fiddle to the stories he told. Using by now familiar characters, these were woven together to create a solid backstory and character for Wilson Dixon, which gave the comedy a context to spring from. This made Wilson Dixon more real, more funny and more interesting.
There was some much appreciated edge to the show. Dixon roasted an unfortunate audience member caught texting and didn’t hold back in alluding to the in-breeding and child brides back in his home town of Cripple Creek, Colorado. Big laughs came during Dixon’s lullaby to reassure his niece that when Pappy called Ma a “cockmuncher with an open-all-night sign on her hairy beaver”, it didn’t mean what she may have thought it meant.
Jesse Griffin possesses a great talent for telling a story. The one about Dixon’s psychological war and relationship with his horse Andrew, “the pain in the ass”, was a particular highlight.
Dixon was available after the show to sell his CDs to anybody interested in the nostalgia of “paying for music”. I really hope he sold a few.