NZICF 2016: 5 Star Comedy Preview

5 Star Comedy Preview

A show like this is always a treat simply because of the sheer variety of top-notch international acts you get to see. Outside of the comedy gala, this is a great way to get a taste of what is on offer at the festival.

Rich Wilson, the compère for the evening, certainly looked the part when he walked out on stage. Striking just the right mix of charm, confidence and crass, his self-deprecating material had a good smattering of funny and served as an ideal complement in between acts.

Lloyd Langford was first to kick things off. His likable nature and deadpan Welsh brogue paired well with his witty, and often spot on, observations about New Zealand. Next up was Harley Breen who was loud and brash yet skilled in garnering laughs through his clever use of descriptive wordplay to paint a hilarious visual image.

In contrast self-declared ‘little bit posh’ Londoner Jimmy McGhie took to the stage with a more quiet confidence about him. His well-crafted running diatribe about being in his 30s translated brilliantly with the evening’s audience. Meanwhile Angela Barnes’ set about drugs, dressage and dating had some great punchlines and reflected her eccentricity which I quite liked.

George Egg rounded up the first half with something a little bit different. Unconventional cooking demo with a dash of comedy, Egg showed us that elaborate meals are possible within the confines of a hotel room with a bit of creative thinking and a ‘can-do attitude’.

The second half began with Finnish comedian Ismo Leikola who, judging by the raucous laughter, was the clear crowd favorite of the night. His fidgety demeanor worked extremely well with his quirky observations about his home country and New Zealand, all of which packed a comedic punch. Nish Kumar followed with his charismatic, upbeat brand of humorous commentary about the things that amuse and annoy him in life.

Festival favorite James Acaster was next with his awkward yet assured style of comedy that Kiwi audiences have come to know and love. Canadian/Filipino comic Ron Josol – whose audience cheers closely rivaled Leikola’s – closed the night with a highly enjoyable set which included him adeptly poking fun at various Asian stereotypes (read: himself) which had everyone in stitches.

This year’s 5 Star Comedy Preview boasted an excellent lineup of accomplished comedians and was thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. If you want more bang for your buck, this international showcase is unmissable.

5-stars

Lloyd Langford, Harley Breen, Jimmy McGhie, Angela Barnes, George Egg, Ismo Leikola, Nish Kumar and James Acaster have solo shows at the festival. Check out comedyfestival.co.nz for dates and to book tickets.

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NZICF 2016: 7 Days Live NZ v. The World Special

7 DaysFor those who are already following the long-standing topical comedy satire series on TV3, 7 Days needs no introduction. New Zealand’s version of the UK’s Mock the Week, this special comedy festival edition sees three Kiwi comedians take on ‘the world’, specifically Australia, Wales and England.

7 Days regulars Paul Ego and Dai Henwood along with Rose Matafeo made up the NZ panel while the international side was represented by Chopper, Lloyd Langford and James Acaster. Just like the televised show, the two teams took it in turn to poke fun at recent news stories through various games that are led by seasoned host Jeremy Corbett.

Jamie Bowen was excellent as the emcee-of-sorts, ensuring the crowd was informed of the cues involved with live recordings while also keeping us pumped for the evening’s proceedings. The panel are impressively quick-witted in ‘finding the funny’ in whatever words, images or scenario get thrown at them while also bouncing off each other’s jokes seamlessly.

I felt the first half started off a bit slow and took a while to rev up but come the second half things flowed a lot better. A brief appearance from Rhys Darby with his former band-mate Grant Lobban (together they form Rhysently Granted) to perform in one of the sections was a cool surprise and sneak peek in to what they are about.

Each comedian held their own brilliantly but for me the international corner had a bit more of an edge up. Chopper in particular stood out the most with some of the funniest punchlines of the night. Langford was probably the least vocal of the group but when he did have something to say, it packed a comedic punch. Acaster’s wonderfully awkward persona brought a different yet entertaining energy that complemented the trio nicely.

Overall, while you might not find yourself laughing non-stop from start to finish, more than enough material is dished out to keep everyone entertained. Be warned though, being a live recording session it makes for a pretty long sitting (over three hours) but this is all part of the experience.

The 7 Days format is a clever blend of infotainment meets improv that’s easily enjoyable and just loads of fun. If you love comedy and have always wanted to be a part of a live studio audience, this annual comedy festival special is definitely one to catch.

4-stars 7 Days airs every Friday at 9:30pm on TV3.

Jamie Bowen, Rose Matafeo, James Acaster, Lloyd Langford, Chopper and Rhysently Granted all have solo shows at the Comedy Festival. Go to www.comedyfestival.co.nz for dates and to book tickets.

 

Hello and Welcome!

Welcome to my shiny new-and-improved website! Whimsical Banana 2.0 if you will. I do hope you like it here.

As most of you know, I have had to take a bit of a break from the freelance writing game. This was for several reasons but most notably it was because I decided it was about time I go out and explore the big, bad world (read: go on my OE).

Between 2013 and 2015 I spent time traveling around the UK and also some parts of Europe. Lots of things happened in those two years one of them being I got to tick a HUGE thing off my bucket list: attend the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. I also had the privilege of joining Broadway Baby as a comedy and theatre reviewer.

As fun as my time away was, it’s so great to be back home! I returned to Auckland late last year and after just about getting over the thirty-four-hour flight and jet lag, I got a job at the Auckland Arts Festival. I’ve always wanted to work on the ‘other side’ of an arts festival so I was very excited to join the AAF team!

It’s been an eventful eight months and I’m so chuffed to finally be able to write again as I’ve really missed it. Since Whimsical Banana has been out of action for so long and as I feel my style/approach to writing has evolved over time, it just made sense to take this opportunity to rebrand.

Do have a look around – please note, however, that I haven’t yet loaded all my past reviews (listed on the right) but will hopefully do so ASAP!

Faith-Ashleigh x

P.S. One last thing, Whimsical Banana will continue to be live so if I’ve reviewed your show on that site, don’t worry! It will still be available there to read/link to/etc.