The comedian with tape on his face

Funny acts at this year's Flipside festival include (from far left) Sienta La Cabeza and The Boy With Tape On His Face.
Funny acts at this year's Flipside festival include (from far left) Sienta La Cabeza and The Boy With Tape On His Face.PHOTOS: MAT RICARDO, COURTESY OF ESPLANADE - THEATRES ON THE BAY
Funny acts at this year's Flipside festival include (from far left) Sienta La Cabeza and The Boy With Tape On His Face.
Funny acts at this year's Flipside festival include (from far left) Sienta La Cabeza and The Boy With Tape On His Face.PHOTOS: MAT RICARDO, COURTESY OF ESPLANADE - THEATRES ON THE BAY

New Zealand funnyman Sam Wills takes along a roll of tape whenever he goes on tour

Unlike some of his other colleagues, New Zealand comedian Sam Wills never worries about what he should wear on stage - his regular ensemble is a black-and-white striped shirt and a blazer.

Oh, and some black gaffer tape. However, it is not for any eyebrow-raising reason. The tape is used to cover his mouth for his hour-long silent comedy act, which is naturally titled The Boy With Tape On His Face.

After 10 years as The Boy, Wills is an advocate for the Nashua 357 brand of tape. He takes along one roll of it on every tour, with 40m of tape lasting two to three weeks.

"My parents in New Zealand send me boxes of gaffer tape for my birthday. It's a very strange gift, but I appreciate it," he says during a telephone interview with Life! from London, where he is based.

His silent comedy show is part of the line-up at the upcoming 10-day festival, Flipside, at the Esplanade. It focuses on lighter and more playful disciplines of the arts, such as mime, street theatre and physical comedy.

The festival, which is in its 12th year, starts on May 29 and runs till June 7, and features both ticketed and free performances.

Wills himself is a former street artist. In fact, he makes it a point to take part in one street-art festival a year to get away from the character of The Boy and to "get the buzz of performing".

Last year, he went to Germany to perform circus tricks, skills he picked up in circus school when he was younger.

However, the 36-year-old has not tired of the child-like persona of The Boy. With his shock of black hair and expressive blue eyes, some have remarked that The Boy looks like a character from a Tim Burton film.

"Mentally, I'm about nine years old. There's an aspect of me in the character.

I enjoy going back and playing on stage with toys and with people," says the chatty comic, who is married with a daughter.

His shows - which have played to sold-out audiences on London's West End - are buoyed by the sounds of hits from the 1980s and 1990s, such as anthems by rock band Bon Jovi, and the clever use of household objects, which seem to magically transform into characters before the audience's eyes.

They also rely a lot on audience participation. Participants who come on stage usually find themselves in an unusual game or situation with The Boy.

However, he adds: "It's the nice kind of interactivity. I celebrate people who come on stage and make sure they leave the stage a hero."

nabilahs@sph.com.sg