Auckland Encore 2017: James Acaster – Recap

After a quickfire run of his last 3 shows, James Acaster decided to treat Auckland with one more bonus show – a prologue to the ‘trelogy’ to fill in the gaps. Considering there was only a few days to sell tickets the turnout was great which is not at all surprising; he definitely has developed quite a solid fan base here.

While Recap does revisit and tie in to some elements of what was covered across the three shows, you do not need to have seen them to enjoy this one (though you probably wished you had gone!). Some material will be familiar to those who are not new to Acaster’s work but such is his talent as both an adept comedian and skilled storyteller that it will feel like you are hearing it for the first time.

Over the course of the show, we are regaled with amusing stories of early life in his hometown Kettering particularly his job as a lollipop man and we also get reacquainted with his alter ego, Pat Springleaf. In between, Acaster weaves in hilariously extensive research on a breakfast staple, a game of flirty Twister and a hapless tale involving a wooden duck. As usual, each anecdote is perfectly paced and impeccably timed so as to generate the most laughs.

Recap is another highly enjoyable and wonderfully whimsical hour from James Acaster which gives fans the opportunity to relive earlier material while introducing new audiences to old comedic gems. If you’ve not experienced one of his shows before, make sure you get tickets quick-smart next time he’s in town!

To find out where James Acaster will be performing next as well as when he’ll be returning to our shores, check out his gig list on his website. You should also follow him on Twitter.

Check out what I thought of the trelogy!
*Read my review of Recognise here.
*Read my review of Represent here.
*Read my review of Reset here.


Auckland Encore 2017: James Acaster – Recognise

When you consider the two extremes of stand up – conventional style versus more offbeat – James Acaster’s brand of comedy definitely sits in the latter category. His eccentric perspective is very much the pulse of his material and this show is no exception.

Recognise is the first chapter of the trilogy and is a cleverly written, multi-layer narrative in which Acaster discloses to the audience that he is actually an undercover cop posing as a stand up comedian so he can infiltrate a drug ring. This far-fetched yet somewhat plausible premise is the recurring theme but in between we are treated to an entertaining diatribe of a variety of things from the mundane to the farcical.

Over the course of the hour we learn of Acaster’s love for finding loopholes, the time he concocted a long drawn out revenge scheme involving bananas and what he thinks is New Zealand’s best kept secret and why which was an audible crowd-pleaser. His anecdotes all demonstrate a witty and devious mind which is a staple in his shows.

Acaster is an animated and captivating raconteur, using his signature whimsical and sardonic candor to superb comedic effect.  In this particular show, there is also a physicality which he adopts as well as audio and visual props he uses that add yet another humorous layer to his material.

Recognise is another enjoyable top notch offering and one that feels more personal than its successors which is refreshing. Whether or not Acaster really is a covert detective is debatable but what is undeniable is his innate ability to effortlessly garner laughs no matter what he talks about.

James Acaster is performing Recognise, Represent and Reset across different days and times at The Basement until April 23rd with a bonus show on Sunday evening. For more details and to book tickets, click here.

*Check out what I thought of Represent here.
*I saw Reset at last year’s NZICF. To read what I thought, click here.

Auckland Encore 2017: James Acaster – Represent

James Acaster is back on our shores for a whirlwind run of his last 3 shows. Tickets to see him always sell out – and quickly! – so this is definitely a treat for those who did not manage to get in the first time.

Acaster describes Represent as 100% whimsy which is 100% accurate.  His trademark idiosyncratic discourse and seemingly haphazard, impulsive style brings us on a side-splitting journey of outlandish proportions. With celebrity gossip updates, amusing snippets from his time as a juror and the most hilariously absurd fable, there is not one dull moment to be had.

Acaster is a skilled storyteller who reads the room and feeds off it extremely well, with every anecdote strategically placed and each punchline perfectly timed. His comedic instincts are second to none; even when the narrative takes unexpected turns at no point do you feel he has no idea what he is doing or where he is going – in fact this is all part of the fun.

The most impressive thing about Acaster’s delivery is his unostentatious yet apparent confidence and effortless way in which he has the audience hanging on to his every word. Even when the show brilliantly goes a bit meta in which he proceeds to actively analyze it, we don’t question it but keep going along for the ride.

Represent is a highly enjoyable and wonderfully eccentric hour, one that’s a fair bit quirky and a lot funny. It is the perfect taster to get those laughing muscles going in preparation for the upcoming comedy festival season.

James Acaster is performing Recognise, Represent and Reset across different days and times at The Basement until April 23rd with a bonus show on Sunday evening. For more details and to book tickets, click here.

*I saw Reset at last year’s NZICF. To read what I thought, click here.


NZICF 2016: Urzila Carlson – Unacceptable

Urzila Carlson

New Zealand’s favorite South African import Urzila Carlson is no stranger to the comedy circuit, having great crowd-pull every time she puts on a show. If you’re a ‘repeat offender’, as she puts it, you know your laughing muscles are in for a workout.

This year’s offering, we are told, is about celebrating the smaller things in life and equally openly recognizing when something is unsatisfactory. After a fleeting encounter on Facebook where Carlson discovered the power of the word ‘unacceptable’, she decided she was going to apply it to everyday life and consequently Unacceptable was born.

The show is essentially a collection of things in life that Carlson deems acceptable and unacceptable. Over the course of the hour, she shares her opinions about school sports, working in hospitality and ‘those green garden chairs’ to superb comedic effect, easily garnering many knowing, agreeing laughs. She also incorporated a crowd round to hear what we thought which added a brilliant interactive element to the narrative.

Considering the premise is largely about airing grievances which could have given the show a whiny tone, it is anything but. Even when she reveals an unexpected turn in a particular story, it does not significantly dampen the mood. This is all down to Carlson being an effortless entertainer with a well-honed comedic eye.

Carlson’s style of comedy is easily relatable and incredibly personable which is a big part of her appeal. She has an innate ability to deliver her material in a way that she instantly connects with her audience. She also has no qualms laughing at herself and her idiosyncrasies which is what forms the charm of the show.

Unacceptable is an exceedingly enjoyable hour of skilfully written, extremely witty comedy that will have you in stitches from start to end. Carlson is a gifted and accomplished comedian who is an utter delight to experience and an absolute must-see.


Unacceptable is on again tonight (May 14th) at SKYCITY Theatre at 7pm. Due to high demand, an extra show has been added after the festival on May 21st at 8pm. For more details and to book tickets, click here.

NZICF 2016: Frenchy – World’s Worst Adult


With over two hundred million views and one-and-a-half million fans on social media, Frenchy’s online reputation precedes him. This show comes with a warning that it contains offensive material which is accurate yet all the same is arguably putting it mild.

World’s Worst Adult is an off-color escapade in to what Frenchy refers to as his ‘immature brain’ in which there are no rules or boundaries and certainly no decorum. From unapologetic sexist jokes to pedophilia and even bestiality, no crude stone is left unturned as the most controversial of subjects are tackled without so much as batting an eyelid.

Weaved among the profanities and obscenities were amusing tales which included recollections from his surprising former life as a high school teacher as well as some hilariously outrageous sex encounters. Along the way, we were also treated to some audaciously tongue-in-cheek, bawdy songs one of which gave the world of Harry Potter a whole new outlook.

Frenchy pairs his twisted sense of humor with his underlying comedic sensibility to form just the right blend of shocking yet still somehow genuinely funny material. He uses his sociable manner with his cheeky charm to superb effect; as vulgar as some of his jokes got – and there were a lot of them – he never once lost the crowd.

It’s no easy feat delivering a show that is designed to offend yet is mindful to not cross the line to tasteless territory. The key to enjoying this show is to dispel all thought of what’s right or appropriate and just indulge in the hilarity Frenchy has unabashedly unleashed from topics of which laughter is an improper response.

Needless to say, Frenchy is not for everyone. If you don’t offend easily though, World’s Worst Adult is a gasp-inducing, no holds barred hour of gloriously filthy and irreverent comedy that doesn’t shy away from laughing at the taboo things in life.


World’s Worst Adult is on just one more time – tonight at Q Theatre at 9pm. For more details and to book tickets, click here.

NZICF 2016: Rhys Mathewson – Nouveau Rhys

Rhys Mathewson

Rhys Mathewson has been in show business for ten years and is heavily in debt which is very likely correlated. To commemorate this, he has a twenty-one-year-old hidden talent he wishes to share with us all.

Nouveau Rhys sees Mathewson change things up a bit by adding a bit of performance flair to his set. The show kicks off with a quite literally stomping opener which incorporated some brilliant toilet humor one-liners that worked an absolute treat with the audience.

After such a vigorous start, the direction of the show was uncertain and you wondered how Mathewson could keep the momentum going but he does so impressively without difficulty. It’s easy to forget that he has been in the circuit for a decade considering he is only twenty-five. He displays a confidence and ease on stage that could rival other more seasoned comics.

Over the course of the hour, Mathewson thoroughly entertains the audience with his intelligent and exceedingly witty commentary about various things in life. We learn about the time he heckled a bus driver, his hatred for ‘Irish tap dancing’ and how he measures time using food. He also shared some amusing and interesting opinions which included what he thinks of democracy and why the Lotto is a government conspiracy.

Mathewson’s casual, conversational style makes the show incredibly easy to just sit back, absorb and engage with. His greatest strength though is in the richness of the material itself which possesses a maturity and well-honed comedic dexterity that is well beyond his years.

Nouveau Rhys delivers a pitch-perfect set of sharp and endlessly hilarious anecdotal comedy that will have you in stitches. Mathewson’s charisma as an entertainer coupled with his undeniable talent at comedy make for an utterly enjoyable hour.


Nouveau Rhys is on at The Classic at 10pm until May 14th. For more details and to book tickets, click here.

NZICF 2016: Nic Sampson – Nic Sampson Has Fallen Down a Well

Nic Sampson

What happens when you fuse comedy and theatre together and want to see if people would be concerned or couldn’t care less at the prospect of a ‘white man in trouble’? You get Nic Sampson Has Fallen Down a Well.

In essence, this fifty-minute piece fuses together a solid repertoire of stand up with some comically exaggerated showmanship. It sees Sampson exercise his comedic and performing chops to deliver one brilliantly absurd, absurdly brilliant show.

From having conversations with strangers at bus-stops and discovering the wonders of nine dimensional cinema to playing the guy who has to fail guide dog puppies, Sampson’s material had great entertainment value and showed excellent comedic instincts. Along the way, different characters come into the mix with Sampson embodying each one to comedic effect.

In the wrong hands, a concept like this could easily veer into self-indulgent territory. Sampson toes this line well and even at it’s most farcical, it somehow still just works. His self-deprecating style of observational comedy pair well with his theatrical delivery to form a lively and boisterous comedy experience.

The premise to this show and how Sampson lets it unravel might be lost on some and if you are someone that just wants to see a straight stand up show then this is probably not for you. Judging by last night’s crowd though, Sampson has found a niche in comedy that overall translates extremely well.

Nic Sampson Has Fallen Down a Well is an offbeat, deftly written show that is a little bit dramatic, a lot eccentric and consistently funny. This cleverly conceived piece will give you more bang for your buck and is an enjoyable late night comedy treat.


Nic Sampson Has Fallen Down a Well is on at The Basement at 10pm until May 14th. For more details and to book tickets, click here.

NZICF 2016: El Jaguar – In Fiesta

El Jaguar

Clad in a wrestling mask and revealing outfit to boot, El Jaguar is quite the silly sight to behold. He takes to the stage with gusto and excited vigor however this is short-lived as he promptly tells the audience that the show has reached its peak and to lower their expectations.

This self-deprecating view of his abilities – which he even graphs visually for us – is punctuated by his desperate need to please and this becomes the source of much of the entertainment in the show. Though there are a few awkward moments and there isn’t really any tie-in or reason behind the costume, for the most part In Fiesta is an enjoyable affair.

2015 was the worst year for El Jaguar and consequently he wants to focus on living a life that is filled with moments of joy, happiness and laughter. Thus El Jaguar is hosting a fiesta and we are all invited to join in on the festivities. The hour is spent planning and preparing for what he describes will be an ‘anti-climax’. Crisps are shared, party poppers passed around and we get to know each other along the way.

The strength of this show lies in the crowd banter that takes place. At its core the show centers around and thrives off crowd interaction and Derek Flores, the man behind this masked maverick, pulls this off admirably. He is a skilled improviser and incredibly quick-witted, seamlessly engaging with the crowd and bringing everyone together through their responses.

In Fiesta is absurd as it is amusing, celebrating the good and bad in life in the form of riotous antics and festive merriment. It is a lighthearted, off-the-cuff comedy that is loads of fun, wildly frenetic and gleefully exuberant.


In Fiesta is on until May 14th at the MonteCristo, 53 Nelson St at 8:45pm. For more details and to book tickets, click here.

NZICF 2016: Ismo Leikola – Observing the Obvious

Ismo Leikola

The title ‘Funniest Comedian in the World’ – awarded to him at an international stand up competition in 2014 – is quite a reputation to live up to. This is Ismo Leikola’s New Zealand debut though judging by the turnout, he looks set to be a Kiwi favorite.

Leikola takes to the stage in the most unassuming, cordial way and the crowd immediately warm to him. His awkward disposition coupled with his seemingly anxious tics and fidgety mannerisms are endearing and all part of the show’s idiosyncratic charm.

Observing the Obvious unfolds as a series of concise and witty observations of the everyday things in life – including comical stories from his marriage – that amuse and baffle him. The brilliance of this show lies in Leikola’s perceptive ability in exposing and poking fun at the often illogical, blatantly apparent aspects of life that have been hidden in plain sight.

Silent letters in English words, the dichotomy of ethical eating, toilet signs and even the humble earthworm all get given new perspective. The audience are consistently reminded of his Finnish roots as he openly fumbles on words and draws cultural comparisons, effectively playing the ‘bewildered foreigner’ to humorous effect.

Though there were a few lulls, they seemed to be more from the audience not picking up on the more subtle jokes than anything else. He recovers from these moments well, either simply moving on or sometimes even playfully explaining to the audience what we missed.

Observing the Obvious is an offbeat, excellently crafted hour of quirky and insightful one-liners that pack a comedic punch. Ismo Leikola’s undeniable dexterity at this style of comic misunderstanding, especially with English as his second language, is impressive and a must-see.


Observing the Obvious is at The Classic at 8:30pm until May 14th with an extra earlier show (at 5:30pm) on the last day. The season is already close to selling out so get in quick before you miss out! For more details and to book tickets, click here.

NZICF 2016: George Egg – Anarchist Cook

George Egg

George Egg likens the art of anarchist cooking to that of casino card counters, the difference with him being the ‘best practitioners don’t get caught’. Fueled by a desire to best over-priced hotel food, he decided to come up with innovative solutions to creating meals within the limited means of a hotel room.

Anarchist Cook blends cooking with comedy to form a unique and fascinating concept of a show that is part engaging discourse, part cooking demonstration. The stage is set to mirror a typical hotel room which Egg uses to impressive effect to effortlessly whip up three appetizing courses.

Over the course of the hour, hair dryers, towel rails, irons and coat hangers take on new meaning and purpose. Egg has the audience completely captivated as he proves that anything is possible with a little bit of creative thinking and a can-do attitude.  From making cheese in the bathroom to flipping pancakes over an upside-down iron, this really is anarchist cooking at its best.

In between the chopping and poaching, Egg keeps the audience entertained and engaged with lighthearted banter as well as amusing food-based material. His genial, good-humored persona and enthusiasm for what he does is endearing; before we know it we too are invested in his plight and excited for what is coming together in front of us.

Anarchist Cook will give you an entirely different outlook on cookery and the boundless culinary potential a hotel room has. It is a brilliant premise that is deliciously crafty, delightfully ingenious and has to be seen to be believed. Be ready to soak in the smells and bring your appetite with you.


Anarchist Cook is on at the Herald Theatre at 7pm from May 10th – 14th. For more details and to book tickets, click here.