Some people are born to entertain and just thrive at being centre stage – Phil Nichol is one of these people and boy does he do it well. There is stand up comedy and there is Phil Nichol doing stand up comedy which is a totally out-of-this world experience.
Your Wrong is a crazy and capricious multi-layered narrative that takes you on an epic ride through Nichol’s life as a self-proclaimed hedonist which unexpectedly turns in to a journey of self-discovery following a curveball involving his older brother Andrew. He even throws in some rock and roll comedy on guitar for good measure.
Contrary to his accent, Nichol is actually of Scottish descent; he and his family moved to Canada when he was 12. He switches between the two accents with ease and his portrayal of his dotty mother Ethel who believes buttons are evil is a particular highlight.
The main pull of the show that keeps you engaged from start to finish is Nichol’s larger than life personality and infectious energy. He’s loud and brash but not divisively so; he is both over-the-top yet also deftly perceptive. In and amongst the silliness and outrageous antics, is some truly brilliant comedy. Nichol has his finger firmly on the pulse of the crowd and his material and it’s a joy to watch.
Your Wrong is a gloriously freewheeling, riotous affair with surprises on every turn and laughs at each corner. Nichol is the consummate entertainer in a league of his own – an absolute must-see for all comedy lovers.
Phil Nichol is performing at The Classic all of this week until 25 May. For more info and to book tickets, click here.
During the comedy festival season where stand up shows are in abundance, it’s nice to try something new to cleanse the comedic palate. Enter Space Couch: A Live Comedy Chat Show – a refreshing blend of comedy and conversation which takes inspiration from iconic talk shows like David Letterman and Jon Stewart.
This late night soiree is the brainchild of two-time Billy T nominee Tim Batt and electronic/ synthpop musician Luke Rowell (aka Disasteradio). Together they have created an entertaining and eccentric hour of comical banter, facetious commentary and riotous antics with some sketch comedy thrown in and even a commercial break.
Batt’s charisma and amiable persona make him the ideal host while Disasteradio provides well-timed musical cues as the show’s one-man house band. At centre stage is the titular Space Couch who we learn was named so after traversing space in 1958 and along the way found his voice, albeit a communist one. A talking couch may sound ludicrous but somehow doesn’t seem totally out of the ordinary within the context of this show.
Each night, in keeping with the talk show format, the audience is treated to a panel of different guests. For this show we had local comic Hamish Parkinson and his mum Lynette who took part in a guessing game with a shock factor that sent audible responses both onstage and in the crowd.
Actress Claire Chitham of Shortland Street/ Outrageous Fortune fame was the celebrity guest and who was just an absolute delight to have onstage. When she closed the show with an impromptu pilates class, we don’t even blink an eye – we’d seen far more outrageous things at this point.
With a bit of refining, Space Couch: A Live Comedy Chat Show certainly has the potential to be a permanent offering in the comedy festival programme. If you’re getting a bit of show fatigue and keen for something a bit different and unpredictable, this is a great late night treat.
Just one more opportunity to see Tim Batt fulfill his chat show dreams! The last show is at 10pm tonight at the Basement Theatre. For more info and to book tickets, click here.
It takes great skill to present a comedy show that is not only inherently personal and in many ways educational but also one that has a generous helping of funny. James Roque nails all three and makes it look effortless.
Boy Mestizo centres around Roque’s recent trip back to his home country to reacquaint himself with his Filipino roots. Or in his words, to embark on his ‘eat pray love’ journey. His sharp wit pair well with his self-deprecating humour to bring together a show that is packed with hilarity but has lots of heart at its core.
Over the course of the hour, Roque gives us a candid snapshot of Filipino culture through his interactions with family, own discoveries and he even throws in a quickfire history lesson for good measure. He draws attention to idiosyncrasies and common traits while also revealing some harrowing home truths particularly around the nation’s definition of beauty.
Roque’s French-Canadian girlfriend gets regular mention and could almost be another show in its own right. From being his lucky charm to receiving better service in shops in the Philippines to keeping his airbnb reviews in check, it provides another comical stream to the show.
Overall Boy Mestizo is a fast-paced, well-crafted hour with never a dull moment and fires on all cylinders. It’s easily enjoyable, heartwarmingly honest, thoroughly engaging and packs a comedic punch.
James Roque’s Boy Mestizo is on tonight at the Basement. For more info or to book tickets, click here.
He is also one third of the sketch comedy trio Frickin Dangerous Bro who also have a show later tonight at Q Theatre. For more info or to book tickets, click here.
With thirty years of experience under his belt, Arj Barker is a seasoned pro who has well cemented himself in the comedy circuit beyond his Flight of the Conchords fame. It’s been a couple of years since his last visit to our shores so he has a few things to update us on.
Organic is a fitting title for this show as while Barker’s style has always been more on the laidback side and this still holds true, there is something even more stripped back about his performance this time round. He is now a married man which could be the reason and it is adjusting to this new phase in his life which forms the comedic backbone of this show.
Barker’s recent transition to a gluten free lifestyle (thanks to his wife) is a recurring theme and particular highlight. He channels his struggle to adapt by giving popular gluten foods new meaning with amusing nicknames like “bread in a bottle” and “nautical seafaring bread” to hilarious effect.
Whether it’s debating Uber versus taxis, discussing flying business class or lamenting about the social etiquette around talking about Game of Thrones in public, Barker has the audience thoroughly engaged with his comic wordplay, sharp irony and perfectly timed punchlines. His closing set sees him treat us with a bit of musical comedy which adds another great comedic element to the show.
Organic is another enjoyable offering from Arj Barker filled with perceptive observations and entertaining anecdotes delivered in that signature style of his. As an added bonus, if after the show you still can’t get enough, after the show you can purchase some funny “Arjisms” to take home with you!
Arj Barker had only two shows at SKYCITY Theatre this year but I’m sure he will be back in NZ again soon! To find out when and where he is performing next, visit www.arjbarker.com
He has also started a hilarious DIY YouTube channel you should totally subscribe to – check it out here.
Retired wrestler turned stand up comedian El Jaguar is back in Auckland and this time he is teaching a masterclass! It has always been a dream of his to direct his own telenovela which he explains is a Mexican soap opera (or to put it in terms Kiwis will understand: “Shortland Street buy spicy”).
The hallmark of an El Jaguar show is that there isn’t a Fourth Wall and that it is very much an interactive experience. El Jaguar actively incites conversation with several individuals in the crowd, even managing to get some form of response from the more reluctant participants.
We are also told there are four cornerstones that build a good soap and throughout the course of the hour El Jaguar runs us through these components. Audience members’ improv skills are put to the test as he enlists their help to demonstrate and inevitably bring his telenovela to life.
There’s something quite magical about El Jaguar’s style in that while the show relies heavily on audience participation, Derek Flores – the man behind the mask – is a deft improviser so pulls it off seamlessly with skill and cunning. From orchestrating a Mexican “look” wave to setting up an elaborate sequence of events which culminates in a family portrait, he brings the crowd on an escapade of fantastically farcical proportions.
Telenovela is an absurdly fun and frivolous caper that encourages you to get out of your comfort zone and embrace the silly. El Jaguar’s offbeat brand of comedy isn’t for everyone but for those looking for something a bit different at the Festival, you can’t go any more wonderfully irregular than this.
There’s just one more opportunity to attend El Jaguar’s masterclass Telenovela. Take a punt on something new at the Festival – go check this out tonight (19 May) at The Classic! For more info and to book tickets, click here.
Brendon Green knows many Daves and he is pretty sure you do too. When he was at a wedding and there were seven Daves present (three of which were in the wedding party alone) this sparked his fascination with the name and what it is to be a Dave.
My Mates Dave takes the audience on an anecdotal journey through the Daves in Green’s life and explores the theory that your name determines the person you are and how you live your life. There are seven drawings on stage, one to symbolize each Dave, which serve as reference points to each short story.
There is frenemy Dave (Green’s first Dave that sets the Dave bar), serial online dater Dave, surfer friend Dave, even a furry feline Dave. Green talks about these characters and recounts his chosen memory of them in that detailed, illustrative way that he is incredibly adept at, painting such a vivid picture of the interaction it feels like we were there ourselves.
Though they are all different Daves, Green points out that every one of them uncannily bears similar traits, applying the notion that every Dave is an exact, specific type of person. This seems far too general a statement to make yet Green does an excellent job at convincing us.
This is another enjoyable offering from Brendon Green that is the perfect blend of comedy, charm and candor. Green is a charismatic storyteller who just knows how to spin a good yarn and this is what makes his comedy so wonderfully compelling.
Brendon Green has just one more show at Q tonight (19 May) at 10pm. Go get some late night yarns! For more info and to book tickets, click here.
From off-stage, Tony Lyall gets the crowd’s attention with the big F word – fornication. Quoting Michael Bolton’s famous words, Lyall explains that when a man loves a woman something amazing can happen. For him, that something was becoming a father.
In this year’s show Just Kidding Lyall shares with us how his life has changed now that he has a baby to care for. He is especially cynical of nursery rhymes, fables and Disney films – he doesn’t trust them to teach kids about the world which he proceeds to prove by acutely turning the tale of the Gingerbread Man on its head, revealing the underlying dark message beneath.
He also shrewdly analyzes that iconic scene in The Lady and the Tramp swiftly dispelling the notion that dogs behave so coyly around a plate of spaghetti. What about the other diners? What is their food hygiene rating? These are pertinent questions Lyall poses to drive the point home. One huge serving of trout spaghetti (do not try at home) and an ill-fated road trip later, we are thoroughly convinced (and more than a little bit queasy) that dogs should never be offered pasta.
From cracking that cryptic real estate code to his logic behind why his son Arden is not named after the Prime Minister, Lyall’s material is a wealth of sharp witticisms that is engaging as it is entertaining. He has a very “every man” quality about him which make his material accessible, even if you’re not a parent.
Just Kidding is another enjoyable hour from Tony Lyall, this time with added world-weariness from being a new father. It is an hour of insightful dialogue and keen observations from an adept comedian that will surely tickle your funny bone.
Tony Lyall’s Just Kidding is on at Q for 2 more nights (until 19 May). For more info and to book tickets, click here.