NZICF 2018: El Jaguar – Telenovela

Retired wrestler turned stand up comedian El Jaguar is back in Auckland and this time he is teaching a masterclass! It has always been a dream of his to direct his own telenovela which he explains is a Mexican soap opera (or to put it in terms Kiwis will understand: “Shortland Street buy spicy”).

The hallmark of an El Jaguar show is that there isn’t a Fourth Wall and that it is very much an interactive experience. El Jaguar actively incites conversation with several individuals in the crowd, even managing to get some form of response from the more reluctant participants.

We are also told there are four cornerstones that build a good soap and throughout the course of the hour El Jaguar runs us through these components. Audience members’ improv skills are put to the test as he  enlists their help to demonstrate and inevitably bring his telenovela to life.

There’s something quite magical about El Jaguar’s style in that while the show relies heavily on audience participation, Derek Flores – the man behind the mask – is a deft improviser so pulls it off seamlessly with skill and cunning. From orchestrating a Mexican “look” wave to setting up an elaborate sequence of events which culminates in a family portrait, he brings the crowd on an escapade of fantastically farcical proportions.

Telenovela is an absurdly fun and frivolous caper that encourages you to get out of your comfort zone and embrace the silly. El Jaguar’s offbeat brand of comedy isn’t for everyone but for those looking for something a bit different at the Festival, you can’t go any more wonderfully irregular than this.

There’s just one more opportunity to attend El Jaguar’s masterclass Telenovela. Take a punt on something new at the Festival – go check this out tonight (19 May) at The Classic! For more info and to book tickets, click here.

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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 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.

4-stars

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.