NZ International Comedy Festival
El Jaguar’s Cinco De Mayo Fiesta De HaHa
at Fringe Bar, Cnr Cuba & Vivian, Wellington
5 May 2009
[1hr, no interval]
Reviewed by Hannah Smith, 6 May 2009
New Zealand's inaugural celebration of 'Cinco De Mayo' (a Mexican holiday celebrating a bloody and unlikely victory over French forces) is a one-off variety show in its traditional sense. We are treated to a range of acts who sing, dance, tell jokes and, um, put things up their noses, with varying levels of skill and success, but every sign of enjoyment.
El Jaguar himself (stalwart member of the Wellington comedy scene - Derek Flores) is a Mexican luchador, complete with silly accent, preposterous outfit and self-esteem issues which he has been battling through six years of therapy. El Jaguar provides the framework around which the evening is built - warming the audience up with a quick lesson in how a wrestler of such fame and fortune should be welcomed to the stage - and providing links and gags between the acts which are to follow.
But everything does not run exactly to El Jaguar's plan. He is attacked by the very people he is trying to entertain in the form of his arch nemesis El Hecklor (Simon Smith) who issues him a challenge - in the traditional style of comedic luchador's.
The face off between these two characters provides a solid structure for what is essentially a series of improv routines. Smith and Flores are both well versed as improvisers - they support each other, keep things topical, reincorporate jokes that work, and recognize the ones that don't - this is comedy that is not afraid to take risks, and that is not afraid to fail, it acknowledges its own shortcomings, and in doing so is all the more charming.
This ability to fail with charm made the conflict between El Hecklor and El Jaguar the strongest element of the show and outshone all the variety acts that came between. It is a pleasure to watch performers enjoy such a sense of freedom and playfulness -without becoming self indulgent or ever losing the feel for their audience - resulting in an evening of very enjoyable, and silly, funtimes.
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