InReview InReview

Support independent journalism

Adelaide Fringe

'If you didn’t laugh, you would just shrivel up'

Adelaide Fringe

Daniel Tobias’s own battle with testicular cancer inspired him to create a “tragi-comedy” that he hopes will not just entertain, but also help others going through a similar experience.

Comments Print article

The Melbourne-based actor, musician and writer was just 29 years old when doctors told him he had developed stage-four testicular cancer; stage five is terminal.

He says that during his treatment, he went looking for “life’s answers” and trying to understand why this horrible thing had happened to him.

Raised atheist, he didn’t find the answers in the Bible, but rather in reading cancer survivor and ex-professional cyclist Lance Armstrong’s biography.

“He was really like a modern-day messiah to me,” says Tobias.

“A few years ago, if someone asked me: ‘What should I do for a friend going through cancer?’ I’d tell them: ‘Just give them Lance’s book’.”

With inspiration drawn from Armstrong, he found the best way to deal with such devastating news was to find the lighter side in the things he was going through.

“When I was going through cancer, I was always finding ways to deal with it, to laugh at it,” Tobias tells InDaily. “If you didn’t laugh, you would just shrivel up and be a mess.”

His lighthearted attitude surprised his family. His mother questioned his methodology as he danced before going into surgery.

But he says: “I try to always find a lightness and humour in everything in life, and when I do, I think I’m better off for it.”

Tobias sees the performance arts as a way not just to share his passion for comedy and music, but also to help others who might be going through hard times.

“I’d seen a few shows in the Melbourne Comedy Festival that I was really inspired by,” he explains.

“They were all stand-up shows where they were telling very raw stories, but they were also funny, so I took that framework and worked it into my own stuff.”

Working alongside award-winning music comedians Die Roten Punkte, Tobias developed his story into a solo performance piece featuring original songs called The Orchid and the Crow.

He says the show, which has played in Canada and Scotland and is currently at Holden Street Theatres as part of Adelaide Fringe, cannot be described by a single genre such as comedy or cabaret.

“I think there are a lot of performances at the moment that draw on different genres which don’t really fit into one thing or another.

“If there is one particular, say, theme, then it is about faith and I end up having a lot more empathy for all people no matter how they move through tough times.”

In confronting topics such as cancer, Tobias says his comedy comes from how people deal with it and what their expectations are.

“I want it to be a good night out.

“I want it to be entertaining and engaging, and I know I’m dealing with some pretty heavy subjects, but so does Monty Python.”

The Orchid and The Crow is a 75-minute performance piece showing at Holden Street Theatres’ The Studio until March 13.


Make a comment View comment guidelines

Support local arts journalism

Your support will help us continue the important work of InReview in publishing free professional journalism that celebrates, interrogates and amplifies arts and culture in South Australia.

Donate Here


Show comments Hide comments
Will my comment be published? Read the guidelines.

. You are free to republish the text and graphics contained in this article online and in print, on the condition that you follow our republishing guidelines.

You must attribute the author and note prominently that the article was originally published by InReview.  You must also inlude a link to InReview. Please note that images are not generally included in this creative commons licence as in most cases we are not the copyright owner. However, if the image has an InReview photographer credit or is marked as “supplied”, you are free to republish it with the appropriate credits.

We recommend you set the canonical link of this content to to insure that your SEO is not penalised.

Copied to Clipboard

More Adelaide Fringe stories

Loading next article