NZICF 2016: Stephen K Amos – The Laughter Master

Stephen K Amos

Not everyone has the bravado to get away with calling their latest show The Laughter Master. Not unless you are Stephen K Amos in which case it is not only justified but completely true.

Amos is no stranger to the comedy circuit and, lucky for us Kiwis, he does make quite regular visits to our shores. This year’s show sees Amos, once again, masterfully induce laughter through his trademark blend of weaving together a solid repertoire of funny anecdotes with effortless witty banter and good dose of sarcastic humor along with some pretty accurate mimicking of accents thrown in for good measure.

There’s something quite magical and gratifying about going to see a comedian who is a seasoned pro and can totally hold his own on stage. The audience got to see this in action right off the bat when a clueless heckler got absolutely shamed by a brilliantly drawn-out comeback from Amos. The quickfire way in which he responded and handled the situation without so much as batting an eyelid was impressive.

Over the course of the show, Amos recounts amusing stories from his travels and reminisces about the pre-Internet days as well as share thought-provoking musings about things that are happening in the world. Highlights include his sharp observations on what he facetiously tags as ‘casual racism’ and hilarious illustrations of online trolling on social media which had everyone in hysterics.

The Laughter Master is endlessly funny, exceedingly brilliant and packs a comedic punch. Stephen K Amos is an absolute master at his craft and a must-see. If you’re after a rollicking good time with guaranteed laughs, this is the ticket.

5-stars

Stephen K Amos’ Auckland season is over but he will be at the Aurora Centre in Christchurch (May 11th), Baycourt in Tauranga (May 12th), TSB Showplace in New Plymouth (May 13th) and finally the Opera House in Wellington (May 14th). For more details and to book tickets, click here.

 

 

NZICF 2016: The Walking Dead – The Funny Side of the Apocalypse

Dan Willis - TWD

You would have to be living on a different planet to have not heard of the AMC hit TV series of the same title. Zombies have very much become so ingrained in our pop culture framework that it is really not that far-fetched to have a survival plan in place…just in case.

Whether you are already a zombie aficionado or you’re thinking “What if?” and just want to be prepared, Dan Willis is here to help. Part seminar, part tutorial with a good amount of comedy dotted throughout, The Walking Dead is not only an introductory course to all things zombie but will also provide you with the best strategy to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

Having studied and been obsessed with the undead for a decade, Willis is legitimately your zombie trivia go-to guy. Over the course of the show, he leaves no infected stone unturned from revealing its Haitian origins to sharing what he feels will be his perfect secondary weapon of choice.

The hour is structured like a lecture but it is very much an open forum with Willis actively interacting with and seeking feedback from the crowd. There is a section of the show where the audience come together to form the ultimate group of survivors (using international and local celebrities) which I thought was a brilliant interactive addition to the set.

While he does include other zombie texts in the mix as well as some apt sci-fi crossover references, the majority of his points of discussion derive from the TV series, specifically the first three seasons. Thus you may appreciate the show a bit more if you watch the series but even so don’t let that deter you as it has been thoughtfully written to be highly accessible.

Considering the macabre theme, as with the show’s tagline, Dan Willis does manage to find the funny side of the apocalypse and it is this that makes The Walking Dead such an enjoyable and entertaining piece. Whether you’re already a fan or are just plain curious, this is the ideal late night comedy treat.

4-stars

The Walking Dead is on at The Classic Studio from April 27th – 30th at 10pm. For more details and to book tickets, click here.

 

 

 

 

NZICF 2016: James Acaster – Reset

James Acaster

We all have regrets, we’ve all made mistakes. How great would it be if we could just hit the reset button? This premise is the springboard which James Acaster leaps from for this year’s show.

Like his previous shows, Acaster’s signature awkward demeanor pair extremely well with his low-key, ever so eccentric style of comedy to form an endlessly entertaining hour. Over the course of the show, we are regaled with amusing anecdotes that are seemingly just random thoughts but are all perfectly placed to flow and fit into the jigsaw that is the overall narrative.

Acaster’s material, unlike his unassuming stage presence, is incredibly assured but also extremely intelligent. From a hilarious blinds decision-making internal monologue to his favorite Kiwi expression, every little detail has been expertly crafted and impeccably timed to have maximum comedic impact.

The second half takes a slightly bizarre turn, which Acaster himself acknowledges, but albeit claims that he has lost control, something tells us that this is all a clever ruse and we are in safe hands. His innate ability to effortlessly draw the audience in and have us hang on to his every word is impressive.

There is something quite special about what Acaster brings to the table – there is no one in the circuit quite like him. Reset is yet another solid, subtly brilliant hour from this festival favorite that will not disappoint and will leave you in stitches.

5-stars

Reset is on at The Classic April 26th – 28th then May 3rd – 7th at 7pm with an extra show on the 6th at Q Theatre at 9pm. He then kicks of his Wellington season at San Fran May 10th-14th at 8:30pm.

His Auckland season is pretty much sold out (hence the extra show) so if you haven’t already got tickets, best get in quick! For more details and to book tickets, click here.

NZICF 2016: Alexis Dubus – A Bl**dy Brief History of Swearing

Alexis DubusIf you want to know where the bl**dy hell your favorite cuss word comes from, look no further – Alexis Dubus has the answers. He even has handy visual aids and an activity sheet you can take away with you after the show.

Part discourse, part open forum with a good serving of expletives as well as related humorous anecdotes to boot, this show, put simply, looks at the ‘science of swearing’. Dubus presents us with the what, why, who and how of the wonderfully offensive and eclectic world of curse words through a well-crafted lecture that both educates and entertains.

Throughout the hour, the audience is taken on a fascinating and in-depth journey of positively swear-y proportions. We become acquainted with our favorite four-letter friends as well as learn some new, and hilarious, cuss words. Along the way a swear captain is elected and even Shakespeare, we discover, had a bit of a sneaky potty mouth.

There’s a lot to like about this show and this is largely due to Dubus’ skill as a gifted wordsmith and adept storyteller. During the show, there is no Fourth Wall – he easily converses with the crowd and it becomes apparent that swearing is very much a shared activity. He is a natural and accomplished orator with an affable disposition that makes him extremely easy to listen to and engage with.

If you’re not, as Dubus puts it, a ‘lover of the swear’, then this show would probably give you an ear sore. But don’t let the profanities put you off; this is a fun and under-stated piece with solid edutainment value.

A Bl**dy Brief History of Swearing is incredibly informative, thoroughly entertaining and just bl**dy brilliant. Just f**king go!

4-stars

A Bl**dy Brief History of Swearing is on again the following weekend on April 30th and May 1st at the Montecristo, 53 Nelson Street at 5pm. For more details and to book tickets click here.

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.

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.