Deadpan by Chris Bell


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South Auckland standup comedy personality Ian Lethe is dead… Or is he? Most people’s death is untimely but Lethe is shocked to hear about his own demise on the radio. For an experienced comic, receiving news of your own death is no worse than being heckled. But what would the future be like with this new information to identify him? A chance meeting with charismatic community police constable Rose Topana at the scene of an armed robbery precipitates an unlikely friendship.

Rose identifies a special ability in Lethe after seeing one of his standup gigs and he’s soon undergoing police training as a crime scene negotiator. But his interpersonal style doesn’t always lead to the success he and his trainers hope for. Lethe’s escapades are punctuated by insights into his comedic technique; rants about technology, teenagers and traffic. Fortunately Rose cares enough for Lethe to see past the bleakness of his worldview to comfort him in a loss that appears to be both local and universal. A good line spreads faster than Chlamydia, retweeted a thousand times in seconds, shared, edited, given a humourectomy. I like to think of myself as generous but I’m not insane. Why would I give away material when I can sell it to you suckers?

‘Deadpan’ is about as darkly comic as things can get in 30,000 words.


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