Taping off the stage

Sam Wills, the New Zealand comic known as Tape Face, is bringing his act to Israel for three shows

SILENCE IS golden: New Zealand comedian, mime and street performer Tape Face. (photo credit: A.D. ZYNE)
SILENCE IS golden: New Zealand comedian, mime and street performer Tape Face.
(photo credit: A.D. ZYNE)
Sam Wills can get an audience of thousands to roar with laughter – without ever even opening his mouth.
The comedian, mime and street performer is better known around the world as Tape Face because, yes, he performs with a piece of black tape across his mouth. It’s a performance that is difficult to explain to those who haven’t seen it – but Israelis will be getting the chance to see it this week. The New Zealand comic is bringing his act to Israel, performing three shows this weekend as his signature character.
His show includes mime, music, physical comedy and a whole lot of audience interaction.
“The ‘Tape Face’ show came about as a bit of a joke really,” Wills told The Jerusalem Post in a recent interview. The 39-year-old had a lengthy career as a comedian, clown, circus act and street performer before ever pasting black tape across his mouth. “I took elements of my street performing into comedy so it was always audience interaction, but I talked a lot,” he said. Then, when he won a 2005 comedy award in his home country, he “kind of devised the tape face act to prove I could do a whole show without talking at all.”
Wills saw success in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, but one fateful TV appearance last year changed his life forever.
Wills, as Tape Face, of course, appeared on the 11th season of America’s Got Talent, wowing the judges with his comedy mime act and making it all the way to finale night.
“There’s just been genuine worldwide recognition of the act” after AGT aired, said Wills.
The YouTube clip of his performances on the TV program has now been viewed more than 38 million times. “It was definitely America that very much kicked open the doors for us touring and doing the show... we can start laying the foundation to going into even more countries and just start touring around.”
And in a way Israel will be the first stop on a global jaunt, before he heads to Switzerland, Germany, and then across the United States.
Wills said he is “ridiculously excited” to perform in Israel, a country he has never visited before. In town for just four or five days, he plans to get in touch with his “street performer friends who live there, because I find that local knowledge gets to see the better parts of the country and the city.”
He has gotten to explore many parts of the globe already, in particular because of the easily adaptable nature of a silent show.
“The thing I love about the show is that I can go anywhere in the world, to different cultures, because it’s a silent show,” he said. “I love just throwing myself into different environments.”
So Wills is on the road a lot, pulling tape off his face on a regular basis – which means he has to make sure to shave every day.
And when he has too many shows in quick succession, he sometimes ends up with “a red square on my face” from the tape. But he’s found the trick to curing the ailment: “Elizabeth Arden 8-hour cream... I don’t know what the hell is in that stuff but it’s amazing.”
Tape Face will be appearing Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night at 9 p.m. at Cinema City Glilot in Ramat Hasharon.
For tickets, which cost NIS 199, visit 2207.kupat.co.il.