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Print Version

NZ International Comedy Festival

at Puppies, cnr Tory & Vivian Streets, Wellington
From 1 May 2013 to 4 May 2013

Reviewed by Lucy O'Connor, 2 May 2013

The venue is pretty empty when I arrive a mere fifteen minutes early. I am nervous for these guys – what's worse than coming to a new country only to perform to a tiny crowd? But it turns out ten minutes is a long time in Wellington Audience World as people arrive in multitudes. My anxiety is totally appeased when I spy Rhys Darby at a table opposite me. The rumours are true and if Rhys is in, so am I. They'll be just fine. 

But will I be fine? Not initially. My eyeballs are violated when a pasty Passman arrives on stage wearing short shorts, high top socks, a white singlet and a square vest your Granddad would have sported in the 80s. Hedluv is the more subtle of the two, wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

It becomes quickly clear that their clothing choices speak volumes deeper than the lowest bass tones in their vocal range. What need noting, even before the music, are Passman's dance moves. They're manic.

I have never seen a human body move with such commitment to creating an extreme interpretive dance rendition which incorporates the melody, the bassline and the essence of the story. Amazingly, he is always on the beat.  Any contemporary choreographer/director would have swooned – and not just for the outfit inspiration.

Hedluv is as chilled as anything and luckily for us, provides the fundamentals: the music from a Casio keyboard and some understandable lyrics. We are treated to song topics ranging from a PE report to the ‘relatable' swimming conditions in Cornwall. My personal favourite is a depressing Britney Spears cover reformed to be anything but. I wish I could comprehend more of the lyrics overall as often the story is lost through the sheer volume of the backing track.

Between every musical number, the mood is flat. Did I say flat? I meant if a stage could die and rigor mortis could set in we witnessed it here. Hedluv's melancholic confessions about lacking past performances provide the necessary twitches to keep this comedy baby alive.

Meanwhile, is Passman about to pass out? His breathing sounds … strained to say the least. I am sure he can't last. His enthusiasm levels have to drop as the show goes on at least physically if not mentally. But I am proven wrong in epic proportions. Spellbound by his extreme bursts of finesse, I jot down some notes for any of my own coming nights out. I'll be out to impress if I can pull any of his moves off.

Okay, yes, I'm glad I've attended. It is funny. It is intense. It is weird. It isn't always understandable, but it is true what Hedluv said: it is a very safe show if you don't like being harassed by comedians for their personal gain. But if seeing a pasty white man from Cornwall possessed by mania wearing only Y front underwear and running at high speed past your face isn't your idea of feeling secure - well the Compassion Centre is just up the road.
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 Stephen Austin
 Sharu Delilkan (TheatreScenes - the Auckland Theatre Blog);