NZICF 2018: Billy T Jams

Another year, another comedy fest! The well established Billy T Jams kicks off as a precursor to the festival and is also a great opportunity to check out the acts who are in the running for the Billy T award which aims to recognize and support up-and-coming comedians in the local circuit.

This year’s showcase was hosted by former winner Rhys Mathewson who was in fine form with his charmingly self-deprecating style of comedy and sharp wit. It’s really great to see those up for the award were predominantly females which says a lot about the future of New Zealand comedy.

Last year’s Best Newcomer winner and indisputable “long human” Melanie Bracewell kicked the evening off. Her archetypal woes of the single woman were given new light and humor with her quirky yet spot on analogies on usual suspect topics like dating, sex and social media.

Next to take the stage was Alice Snedden with material that was similarly standard fare yet her dry observational humor had some good comic moments. Where she really got into her stride was when sharing stories about her mum who it seems has a penchant for comedy too.

Comedians turned self-proclaimed pop stars Two Hearts (Laura Daniel and Joseph Moore) closed the first half with their irreverent brand of musical satire. Though pairing music and comedy is not new, this boisterous duo easily entertain with their delightfully catchy and facetious tunes about love (the fan girling type) and slutty ghosts.

Donna Brookbanks‘ elaborate introduction which was like a reverse crowd surf was probably a bit overkill but it is very much part of her schtick. Her socially awkward persona couple well with the physical theatre she brings to her performance for an oddly endearing set.

James Malcolm rounds up the cast of this year’s nominees with casual banter about being a gay icon (according to a teenage fan) which he uses as a springboard to crowd test his gaydar and also a rather harrowing tidbit about his over-sharing mother. While he doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the table, his material had good comedic value.

Last year’s winner Angella Dravid closes the show with her unique brand of low key comedic storytelling. There is something really appealing about her trademark nervous disposition and awkward demeanor – you can’t help but be drawn in to her anecdotes.

All in all, it was a good laugh out that has got the laughing muscles itching for more. Bring on the festival!

All these 2018 nominees have solo shows at the upcoming New Zealand International Comedy Festival which kicks off from 26 April for just over 3 weeks. Check out comedyfestival.co.nz for dates and more info.

 

 

 

 

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Adrian Bohm Presents: Kevin Bridges

Kevin Bridges is a household name on the international comedy circuit and really needs no introduction especially if you are a fan of UK comedy. This is his New Zealand debut and judging by the fact there was enough demand to put on a second show in Auckland (to his surprise), hopefully this bodes well for Aotearoa to be included in future tours.

After a quick poll it is evident the audience is unsurprisingly largely made up of expats and while Bridges does play to this crowd he does so in a way that doesn’t exclude the rest. His material is well written, bitingly topical and rich with witty observations. From his thoughts on Trump to his amusement at the latest food trend of pulling everything, he garnered laughs effortlessly.

Bridges’ thick Scottish brogue does require a bit of tuning in to initially and he even opens the show acknowledging this, poking fun at commonly not being understood, to hilarious effect. Even with this in mind, his conversational style of stand up means the show is easily enjoyable and accessible.

Bridges takes to the stage with an air of confidence and swag that only comes with someone of his caliber. Even when the energy dips near the tail-end, it doesn’t seem to faze him and with so many laughs already had, the lull is easily shrugged away.

Throughout the show, Bridges engages in quite a bit of banter with the crowd with a select few singled out and getting regular mention which make for a very communal experience. Hecklers beware: he takes no prisoners and though there is a thin layer of arrogance in how he deals with them, it is highly warranted and you can’t help but be impressed.

There is something quite satisfying about going to see an accomplished, really good comedian just work his magic. Kevin Bridges is a seasoned pro that should be on every comedy aficionado’s must-see list.

Kevin Bridges New Zealand tour was short and sweet but hopefully he will be back on our shores again soon enough! To find out where he is performing next, click here.

NZICF 2017: Urzila Carlson – Studies Have Shown

South African Urzila Carlson, who has called NZ home for 11 years now, is a national treasure and no stranger to the local comedy circuit. This year’s offering brings more of her trademark straight talk and conversational style of stand up which Kiwi audiences have come to know and love.

Studies Have Shown sees Carlson poke fun at the silly studies and strange surveys that are being carried out online and beyond while also providing suggestions of alternate topics for research. A range of subject matters are covered from what researchers have to say about pets to her personal approach to parenting.

Carlson’s engaging delivery coupled with her conversable and laidback demeanor make for an easily enjoyable show. Her ability to highlight the hilarity in everyday predicaments and scenarios – like which is the best toilet cubicle to occupy? – feels so effortless which illustrates her seasoned comic chops.

While her findings were fascinating and often eye-opening, it is Carlson’s suggestions for what we should be focused on instead that is the driving comedic force of the narrative. From a hilarious anecdote about the worst time for your keys to fail on you to a facetiously contentious spiel around how being vegetarian doesn’t help the planet, her material had solid entertainment value.

Studies Have Shown is frequently funny, incredibly accessible and brilliantly combines topical with comical to entertaining effect. It is another superb offering from Urzila Carlson that is guaranteed to tickle your funny bone.

Urzila Carlson has finished her run at the Comedy Festival but will now be taking this show on a nationwide tour. For dates, locations and to book tickets, click here.

NZICF 2017: Luke Callaghan – Born in the US, Eh?

Having grown up in the US and having lived in NZ for the past 12 years, Luke Callaghan considers both home and consequently his comedy has an interesting dichotomy to it. Born in the US, Eh? sees him examine the hallmarks of these two countries through both American and Kiwi lenses.

Callaghan is off to a great start with his observations on NZ’s favorite snacks and spreads followed by the ridiculously excessive menu items offered at family restaurants in America. His thoughts on the great culture war that is marmite versus vegemite and why he doesn’t trust Weet-Bix are hilariously spot on.

The rest of the show continues in this fashion with Callaghan seamlessly finding the funny in a range of topics spanning from pet food to pot. Though he has an indisputable American twang he regularly reminds us that he doesn’t meet any of the usual stereotypes which is another recurring talking point in the narrative.

Callaghan pokes fun at the oddities of both his home countries to humorous effect, like mocking America’s advertising tactics and pointing out the illogicality of finding a flatmate via TradMe. He delivers these from the perspective of both a native and outsider looking in which gives his material quite an intriguing quality and aptly mirror his duality of identity.

Born in the US, Eh? is a cleverly written and commendable debut solo show from Luke Callaghan. His keen and insightful observations coupled with his affinity with both NZ and US come together in a comedic collision of cultures that is incredibly engaging and easily enjoyable.

Luke Callaghan is performing this show one more time this evening at the Backbeat Bar on 100 K road. For more details and to book tickets, click here.

NZICF 2017: Rhys Mathewson – Rhys Classic

Rhys Mathewson started his career in comedy at a young age and has accomplished a lot over the years. Most notably he is the youngest comic to be awarded NZ’s prestigious Billy T and Fred awards, a fact which he shamelessly slips in during the show whenever he deems it necessary.

There’s one thing that Mathewson has not quite managed to master yet though and that is conquering the marketing and social media game. That and doing tech for himself which though unorthodox provided great comic relief. Rhys Classic is the product of his plight to discovering what his comedy brand is, which he ponders and talks through with the audience.

Over the course of the hour, Mathewson reflects back on his past like the pivotal moment he became a comedian and also talks about his hopeful choice of clothing for his future self. He recounts the time he played improv games at a friend’s funeral and how he resorted to a self-imposed sexual harassment charge as a result of being home alone all day.

A highlight was Mathewson narrating a hilarious email exchange between himself and a council representative to do with being inconvenienced by the Auckland Marathon. His ongoing, unabashed facetiousness which builds in each message is highly amusing and reveal his quick wit as well as irreverent sense of humor.

He may not know how to sell his shows but he sure knows how to market himself on stage. Rhys Classic is another solid offering from Mathewson; his assured bravado and seasoned comedic instincts come together brilliantly for a consistently funny hour.

Rhys Mathewson will be performing at The Classic until 20th May. For more details and to book tickets, click here.

NZICF 2017: Brendon Green – Best Friends

Life is going great for Brendon Green at the moment. At 32, he is in his first long-term relationship and after putting in the time and by sheer tenacity he is proud to have successfully befriended his girlfriend’s rescue cat Tilly, the most introverted and timid cat in the world.

Green loves writing short stories which he used to bond with Tilly, performing said stories to her (his harshest critic, no less) as a way to win her over. Consequently Best Friends was born, a delightfully charming and engaging monologue about friendship illustrated through three Tilly-approved vignettes.

Over the course of the hour, we are brought on an exhilarating journey of theatrical and fantastical proportions with tales spanning from childhood memories to holiday misadventures. The strength of this show lies in Green’s ability to tell a story which he does effortlessly; each narrative is perfectly paced and delivered with impeccable timing and charisma.

There’s no denying that Green is a skilled and eloquent raconteur. Whether it was a fast-paced account which mirrored his fervent vaulting on a trampoline or a moving anecdote involving his grandma and her trusty dog Shaggy, he has the audience completely transfixed and hanging on to his every word.

Best Friends is a heartwarming and compelling experience that will give you all the feels – it will make you laugh, gasp, ponder and maybe even shed a tear or two. Cat person or not, this wonderfully devised and riveting piece is sure to warm the cockles of your heart.

Brendon Green is performing at the Backbeat Bar on 100 K Road until 20th May. For more details and to book tickets, click here.

NZICF 2017: The Fan Brigade – Don’t Ask The Fan Brigade

Livi and Amanda, the two vivacious ladies that make up The Fan Brigade take to the stage with a gusto and bravado which far supersede the cosy space they are performing in. They instantly win the crowd over with their cheeky opening banter – you just know you’re in for a cracker of a show.

Don’t Ask The Fan Brigade brings us more of this dynamic duo’s trademark tongue-in-cheek and unabashedly risqué brand of musical comedy. Their opening number berating a boyfriend that watches too much porn gets the gasps and guffaws going from the get-go and is the perfect taster for what is to come.

This year’s repertoire boasts a deliciously saucy setlist that include a satisfying rhyming track about their visit to the RSA, a “Lana Del Rey-ish” ballad about shitty exes and a side-splitting song detailing the horrors of having sex in a public toilet. In between tunes, they deliver comic commentary on several hot topics and at the ’40 minute slum’ they even throw in an interactive game show for good measure.

It’s unquestionable: Livi and Amanda are a talented pair who complement each other superbly. They are a triple threat – gifted singer-songwriters, engaging performers and adept comedians in their own right. Every tune is melodically sound and has been deftly crafted with excellent witticisms and clever wordplay which pack a comedic punch.

Don’t Ask The Fan Brigade is a whole lot of fun – it’s brilliantly bawdy, fabulously facetious and exceedingly entertaining. If you’re looking for something a bit different at the Festival and are not easily offended by off-color humor, this riotous and wildly audacious hour is the ticket.

The Fan Brigade are performing at the Backbeat Bar on 100 K Road until 20th May, with an extra later show on the last day. For more details and to book tickets, click here.