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Print Version

Produced by the Humorous Arts Trust

at San Francisco Bathhouse Heat #1, Wellington
14 Mar 2013

Reviewed by Lucy O'Connor, 15 Mar 2013

I don't think I'm sadistic, but I certainly do enjoy a good old classic awkward moment. Raw Comedy. The opportunity for valiant members of the human species to take me on and ideally, prove me wrong. It is a cruel set up.

These comedians enter a chicken fight. If they win, I stroll out grin intact.  If not, they are left in a pool of their own embarrassment, weak and red faced as I snootily exit, swiftly forgetting that I am proven none the funnier.  The only difference between our chicken fights and the Mexican interpretation is that our human chickens enter willingly and sometimes overly optimistically only to feel the defeat of stone cold silence.   

Enter the MC: an endearing young man named Sam Smith. Off the bat, the audience seems unforgiving, responding with little hope for progression.  Am I impolite in relating this to a high school party, wanting nothing more than the 'hot guy' to come and rescue me with charming wit …?  Call me kind.  But then, thank goodness! After a descriptive warning that there may be swear words throughout the show, the seemingly unbreakable stern faced gentleman bursts into hysterics.  A communal sigh of relief and we are thawed.   

Enter comedian one – Wyeth Chalmers.  Perhaps to his misfortune, the audience seems to react more to clever wit as opposed to crass description of past sexual encounters. A delightful Tom Reed follows with his tales of coming out and staying out at a religious school. Ben Caldwell makes all gingers feel the same pain while Alexander Sparrow shows us why he is New Zealand's sexiest comedian. If he doesn't win overall, perhaps he should consider a position at Dreamgirls. 

Come the second half, Dan Shenton describes his remedy for mob mentality while Kent Lambert parallels Christian belief with Christian science.  Naavin Pillai lists off 8... somethings comparing Wellington to Iraq. Nik Bruce-Smith ends the show with some clever pillow talk.

With the only a microphone and a stage resembling carpet from a 70s porno, the performers have little to bounce off.  Looking at the floor will not save them.  And nor will one gentleman in the audience who extends what I am sure are meant as supportive comments but they sadly lack conviction. With expressions such as “weak” and “well done, that's you”, the audience promptly offer their thoughts on his unwanted vocals.

The four winners of round one are deserving recipients. They come in the forms of Alex Sparrow and Nik Bruce-Smith who present well timed-wit served with self-effacing off plays; the self proclaimed cultural aspect of the evening, Dan Shenton who really should follow through with renaming the Mongrel Mob the Happy Chappies; and Kent Lambert who should offer his insight to Pope Francis.  

But the real winner of the night is Sam Smith who provided a dependable and genuinely hilarious plethora of talent. The saying "All work, no play" will never be the same so thank you, Sam, cultural differences in work ethic are now extremely apparent. 

Night one of Raw Comedy came with some serious contenders.  Long may they endure the chicken fight at hand. Or should I say claw?  
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