NZICF 2018: Phil Wang

When your last name is Wang, why not milk it for all it’s worth? Phil Wang has mastered the art of incorporating his name into any scenario or sentence to comical effect. It is this brilliant balance of silly and smart comedy that make this show such an enjoyable experience.

With a Malaysian Chinese father and mother from Stoke-on-Trent, Wang is a product of the British empire and it’s this dichotomy which shapes his material. He takes turns tackling both cultures, poking fun and playing in to common Asian stereotypes as well as critiquing the all too well known idiosyncrasies of the British.

Over the course of the hour we get to know a lot about Wang and what makes him tick. He hates scary movies, is a closet baby enthusiast (especially the fat, confused kind) and has a hilariously elaborate plan on how he will pull off a hero’s death. These eccentricities range from the relatable to the outlandish but all garner laughs effortlessly under Wang’s deft comedic eye.

In between these droll musings, Wang also takes the opportunity to share his political views with the crowd. His thoughts on racism, post-colonialism and notion of Britishness from the perspective of an immigrant are particularly compelling and insightful.

Overall this debut offering from Phil Wang was a solid and engaging hour of political-personal commentary without a dull moment to be had. His dual ethnic identity brings something quite unique to the table, one which resonated well among Kiwi crowds with NZ being such a melting pot of cultures.

Phil Wang pretty much sold out his entire run at The Classic so here’s hoping this is the first visit of many to our shores! There’s still an opportunity to see him in Wellington as part of The Big Show in Te Auaha which is on until 19 May. For more info and to book tickets, click here.

 

NZICF 2018: Alexis Dubus Verses the World

There’s no denying it: Alexis Dubus has a way with words. This show is not your average stand-up offering – in fact it is classified as “spoken word” back home we are told – but make no mistake; Dubus is an adept comedian so laughs will certainly be had.

Over the course of the hour Dubus uses his knack for rhyme and rhythm to deliver an enjoyable repertoire of silly songs and playful poetry with some jokes weaved in for good measure. He reels you in from the get-go with his whimsical opening number that is a catchy play on the title which perfectly encapsulates the tone and theme of the show.

From a harrowing but hilarious ditty about a belching masseuse to a fervent diatribe about bananas, he has the audience hooked on every cleverly crafted quip, ode and verse. We quickly learn that if he has an opinion about something, he’ll have written a poem about it in his trusty wee notebook.

As with his previous spoken word offerings, Dubus’ strengths as a skilled wordsmith and dynamic storyteller shine through along with his affable disposition to make for a captivating sitting. His dexterity at lyrical prose and ease at spinning comedic gold from a good pun is impressive and make him an absolute master of his craft.

Alexis Dubus Verses The World offers something a little different at the Festival from your standard comedy fare. It is a delightful jaunt of quirky yarns, fetching tunes and witty wordplay that will thoroughly entertain and resonate with you in the days following.

Alexis Dubus Verses The World is at Wellington’s Fringe Bar tonight and tomorrow (11 and 12 May). For more details and to book tickets, click here.

NZICF 2018: Andrew Maxwell – Showtime

With 22 years at the Edinburgh Fringe under his belt, Andrew Maxwell is no stranger in the international comedy circuit and Festival scene. It’s his first time back on our shores in almost 2 decades and he is still as fascinated with “Polynesian Scotland” as ever.

The thing that amuses Maxwell the most about NZ (and our neighbors across the ditch) is our lack of news, or rather what we deem newsworthy. As an avid news junkie, he craves to remain connected to the goings on around him and beyond so is sorely disappointed when he discovers the most exciting to happen is cats on buses.

Maxwell also pokes fun at countries further afield like Germany’s odd spa rules and the Italians’ desire to be heckled at comedy shows. He doesn’t spare his homeland either; his shrewd observations on Cork residents being obsessed with themselves and that scary Belfast accent are comically spot on if you’re in the know.

Amidst his thoughts on Brexit, racism and American police, Maxwell also weaves in more personal material like his relationship with his teenage son and being married to a Muslim. It’s an interesting dichotomy, pairing personal and political but he manages to make it work, proving he can nail the everyday slice-of-life type comedy too.

Showtime is a sharp, engaging and insightful hour of topical discourse from Maxwell who has his pulse firmly on the world’s happenings and uses his seasoned comedic eye to find the funny and garner laughs easily. His style of comedy is not for everyone but for those who like their laughs with a generous serving of political and social commentary, this is the ticket.

Andrew Maxwell will be performing at the Classic until 12 May. For more details and to book tickets, click here.

NZICF 2018: Jimmy McGhie’s Tribal Gathering

Jimmy McGhie has become a bit of a Festival regular having amassed a considerable Kiwi following since his debut two years ago. Tribal Gathering brings us more of McGhie’s trademark eloquent, charismatic discourse about life’s many intricacies.

As always, McGhie openly owns his posh English charm using it to win over the crowd. He has learned from previous visits that Kiwi audiences are a more tight-lipped bunch but that doesn’t deter him; if anything he is even more determined to engage in conversation with us and incite a response.

Over the course of the hour, McGhie tackles the joys of aging and the generation gap while coming to the acceptance that it’s the end of his youth as he knows it. His lament on suffering from three-day hangovers, millennials’ awful taste in music and somehow developing an inner dad voice overnight are highly amusing and hit home with many in the crowd.

A highlight of the evening was an elaborate, drawn-out anecdote in which McGhie reenacts a customer service meltdown that eventuated over a falsely advertised club sandwich. We get to see him exercise his acting skills – something we have not had the pleasure of seeing – by playing all parties involved to great comedic effect.

Whether you’re a millenial, baby boomer or Gen Y, Tribal Gathering will have something for everybody. Jimmy McGhie’s sharp observations make for a delightfully clever and compelling hour with not a dull moment to be had.

Jimmy McGhie is performing at The Classic from 8 – 12 May. For more details and to book tickets, click here.

NZICF 2018: Fern Brady – Suffer, Fools!

It was Fern Brady’s first time in NZ and hopefully it won’t be the last. She performed for only 2 nights in Auckland which is a right shame as this rising comedian is a force to be reckoned with.

Brady has led quite the eventful, outlandish life and she’s here to tell us all about it. Her thick Scottish brogue, dry humor and deadpan delivery are the perfect recipe for an hour of amusing personal anecdotes and witty social commentary.

Interspersed among stories of serving eggs to paedophiles, a drug-induced plot for revenge and a harrowing near death incident, Brady also dishes out her thoughts on dating, gender politics and mental health to name a few. We also get to know her anxieties, idiosyncrasies and what makes her tick, like her loathing of “tall-y small-y” couples and inexplicable obsession with wanting to murder her boyfriend.

Brady fully embraces her quirks and though many of her experiences are so outrageous it’s almost unbelievable, she convinces us to lap it up and buy in to the crazy. Her greatest strength is her innate ability to infuse comedy into unfunny scenarios, awkward situations and just making mad oddly appealing.

Suffer, Fools! takes you on a highly entertaining autobiographical journey through Fern Brady’s life. It is a candid and comic recounting of her colourful past that is thoroughly enjoyable, gloriously self-deprecating and packs a comedic punch.

To find out where and when Fern Brady will be performing next check out her website: www.fernbrady.co.uk

NZICF 2018: Marcel Lucont Etc. – A Chat Show

Storyteller, singer, poet, host – is there anything Marcel Lucont can’t do? (He will tell you the answer is no.) New Zealand’s favourite haughty French flâneur brings his acclaimed late night chat show to this year’s Festival which features live music and a different guest each night.

We are told at the start that this is a chat and jazz show but BYO energy – those accustomed to Marcel Lucont shows know it is always a low-key affair but one that is certainly not low on entertainment value. Lucont’s saucy tales and witty repartee are fittingly complemented by the jazzy tunes of house band The Marcelites (because of course they would be named after the bon vivant himself).

Lucont kicks off the proceedings with a jazz chat where he gets to know the audience and show off his improvisational rhyming chops in one fell swoop. Kiwi audiences tend to be a lot less forthcoming so most of the dialogue was one-sided but this doesn’t faze him one bit; in keeping with his character, he effortlessly uses it as an opportunity to show you can’t best him.

The chat show portion of the evening sees Lucont settle in for a conversation with an invited guest; in this instance it was musical comedy duo The Fan Brigade. This evening was definitely a treat as when you put a hedonistic Frenchman and two sassy ladies together it’s no surprise the evening takes a brilliantly bawdy turn.

Etc. – A Chat Show is a guaranteed good time which gives Marcel Lucont fans the chance to enjoy his famous sex poetry and hedonistic escapades again as well as introduce first-timers to his deliciously risqué brand of comedy gold. It is the perfect late night rendezvous to start off your weekend.  

Marcel Lucont Etc. – A Chat Show is on tonight and tomorrow at Q Theatre before heading to San Fran in Wellington. For more info and to book tickets, click here.

The Fan Brigade are performing in Wellington 8-12 May at Te Auaha in Wellington. Their Auckland season is the following week however they are all but sold out so they have added an extra show on 19 May at 5:30pm – best book now before you miss out! For more info, click here.

 

NZICF 2018: 5 Star Comedy Preview

The well established 5 Star Comedy Preview is always a great precursor to the NZ International Comedy Festival for punters and novices alike. This year’s showcase boasts a solid lineup of rising stars in the international circuit, returning favorites as well as more seasoned acts.

The Mexican bundle of energy that is El Jaguar was our dynamic host of the evening’s festivities and boy is he good at it! He is a natural entertainer and uses his jovial persona to easily keep the audience engaged and in high spirits, even managing to orchestrate an impromptu Mexican wave complete with party props.

After such a lively start, Ian Smith‘s easygoing style of comedy is the ideal first act to ease us in to what we’re all there to do – have a good laugh. He makes the usual run-of-the-mill humorous quips about being a first timer to NZ but where Smith really hits his stride is when he regales us with an amusing anecdote about the time he went dog sledding. He has a clear penchant for storytelling which leaves you only wanting to hear more.

Phil Wang is up next and if you hadn’t heard of him before, after his comic routine of recurrently introducing himself, you’re unlikely to forget his name. While making fun of one’s heritage is not a new thing, there is something quite refreshing about Wang’s approach. He uses his mixed parentage to great comedic effect, nonchalantly poking fun at and playing to popular stereotypes.

It’s quite satisfying to see a seemingly unassuming comedian totally hold their own onstage and this is what Lauren Pattison did. Don’t let her svelte stature and sweet persona fool you – her comedy has bite. From her lament about looking young to how she found herself a foster mum at the zoo, she had us lapping her every word.

Rounding up the first half is the irreverent Fin Taylor. He forewarns us at the start that his comedy has been described as provocative which is a pretty accurate assessment. We get swept up in Taylor’s impassioned rants which hurtle along at breaking speed; his harrowing tale about a spinning incident in particular had the crowd between horrified gasps and side-splitting guffaws.

NZ’s favorite Welshman Lloyd Langford is back and kicks off the second half. There is always something about NZ that bewilders Langford and this year it’s infomercials. His deep Welsh brogue just pairs so perfectly with his delightfully deadpan delivery which made his anecdote about a massage gone wrong even more hilarious.

The always well-dressed Jimmy McGhie, another Festival favorite, is up next with a solid set about how different generations view the world. His observations on the baby boomer generation in particular are so funny only because it’s so true and resonated with the audience. McGhie’s ability to find the funny in life’s hard truths is what makes his comedy so enjoyable.

Last to take the stage is Andrew Maxwell who draws you in effortlessly with his brand of sharp comedy and social commentary in that distinctive Dublin drawl. He is enjoying being back in NZ, or “Polynesian Scotland” as he likes to call it. Being a self-professed news junkie, Maxwell’s material is largely topical, though for this set he pays particular focus on Australia’s lack of newsworthy news.

Once again the 5 Star Comedy Preview delivers a solid night of laughs which will leave you hungry for more. To get a taste of the international comics that are on our shores for this year’s Festival, this is a great place to start.

All these acts have solo shows at the Festival in the coming weeks – click on their names for more info. Some of them are also performing at The Big Show and Comedy All Stars at the Bruce Mason Centre. Go check ’em out!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.