Monday, 20 September 2021

Non-speaking comedian is a festival talking point

HAVE you heard the one about the cutting-edge comedian who doesn’t say anything?

HAVE you heard the one about the cutting-edge comedian who doesn’t say anything?

It’s possible you might have. New Zealander Sam Wills aka The Boy With Tape On His Face — recently shortened to Tape Face — is no stranger to Henley.

“A couple of years ago I dropped in for a wonderful show in a tent with a wonderful audience,” he says. (Albeit whilst off-duty.)

Having racked up at least one previous appearance at the Henley Festival, he is returning this year to perform on the last night — Sunday, July 10.

With a 10.30pm slot at the Salon Comedy Club, he will be among the acts closing the 2016 festival.

He is preceded on the comedy stage by beatbox star Shlomo at 7.15pm and Richard Herring at 9pm, with Will Young headlining the floating stage from 8.30pm.

Funny, magical, innovative, spectacular and inspiring, The Boy With Tape On His Face has won the hearts and minds of the critics and public alike since starting out in 2005.

This is stand-up with no talking, drama with no acting and punchlines with no words. No wonder he cites Buster Keaton, Fozzie Bear and Wile E Coyote among his biggest influences.

And, viewed from an international perspective, at least the language barrier is never going to be a problem.

“It’s one of the reasons the show exists,” says Sam. “I am a fan of going to new and interesting places and a few years ago I really wanted to go to Japan, so I developed this silent act in the hope that one day I could go to a festival there.

“Unfortunately I have been too busy in other parts of the world, so I haven’t made it there — yet!” But how does a comedian first get the idea to tape his mouth shut?

“I was doing a prop comedy show involving circus sideshow stunts where I talked a lot and I decided to try something new and created a silent character who at the time didn’t wear tape.

“On the first night trying out the character in a show I ruined it by talking to the front row, as I panicked, but the next night it was suggested to me that I tape my mouth shut to resist the urge to talk. The rest is history.”

For the Henley Festival he is billed as The Boy With Tape On His Face, but on Wednesday, November 9, he is playing the South Street Arts Centre in Reading as Tape Face. Tickets are available, priced £18, from

Is Sam, who also performs under his own name and as one half of the double act Spitroast, rebranding? “Yes,” he says. “It’s better for a bigger international market.”

Does the tape hurt when he takes it off? “No. This is the most popular question that I get in every interview — every interview of 11 years as The Boy with Tape on His Face — and in every interview I always say the same thing... No.”

Would he ever do an “untaped” show? “I spent several years before the tape doing shows and maybe one day there could be a behind the tape one-off special, but for now I think it’s best to say nothing at all.”

Tickets for the Henley Festival can be booked by calling (01491) 843404 or online at or


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