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REFRESHING IF HESITANT

Print Version

NZ International Comedy Festival
PAX in PAX's MAGIC CARPET RIDE


at Fringe Bar, Cnr Cuba & Vivian, Wellington
From 30 Apr 2013 to 4 May 2013

Reviewed by Maraea Rakuraku, 3 May 2013


There is something very warm and likeable about Pax. I don't know if it's because he's brown, cheeky and has the white man accent down but not long in, I start comparing him to Russell Peters.  Taihoa, let me clarify: Russell Peters when he first started out.

The gig kicks off with a filmed clip of Pax recording on streets around central Auckland.  Well I'm assuming it is because he starts in Aotea Square. It's a bit loose and has that tv-hit-up-randoms-on-the-street-vibe so there's nothing new there.  What is new is that there is a single Asian.  As anyone will tell you, in central Auckland that's a rarity.  So, either there's selective editing or the recordings are a collage. Whatever, it's funny. 

He has a natural way with people. All sorts of people, even the bewildered tourists and star-struck One Direction fan. Anything that doesn't slyly mock the unsuspecting for cheap laughs is all good with me. 

When he finally enters the stage the laughs are fast and hearty as he riffs about his cultural background and racial stereotyping.  When he starts in on the media, I settle in and while he gets in a few jabs I'm waiting for more.  He skims across topics and just when you want him to take one a bit further he's off again. 

This could be due to not quite knowing his set, not feeling brave enough or nerves.  Either way, Dude c'mon bring it! as its apparent early in he's got the raw material and the smarts. It's like a type of awkward hesitation.  Tease.  If you're going to go there, go there!

He has a gift for accents (hello Russell Peters).  Has white people down pat, even Souff Awklan' but his Islander-Sole, please.

While there seems to be some structure to the set it could do with some editing.  What starts at a reasonable pace slows down noticeably when he seems to run out of puff halfway through.  When he starts to excruciatingly focus on drinking water (making me regress back to the Fasitua Amosa gig last year) it seems like we are destined to spend the next 30 minutes hoping for the end.  Yet, he's still able to pull out a few gems and you don't get the impression he's floundering.

Thankfully, he doesn't do the panic default swearing or the cock jokes – boring – though there is a reference to a Star Wars character I can't quite get out my head.

The set could do with less hesitation, more structure, test runs and I have no doubt with a few more national and international gigs under his belt, Pax could really be something.  I hope so. For want of sounding clichéd, he is refreshing. Well, for this country. I suspect internationally he'd have to go deeper with the material.

We need comedians like Pax who, secure in their culture, can bring it to the mainstream and can test, prod, poke and make uncomfortable its audience, and I mean that sincerely. You can't diss the culture you sit within, without it coming across as disingenuous or bitter. Think Billy T James. That takes some balls. 

Comedy like this can be potent, reminding us of what it is to be ‘othered' yet, at the same time, generous enough to give us insight though humour into that world.  My wero to you Pax: shake it harder.  Make us more uncomfortable. Stretch our thinking.
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Comments

Disappointed. posted 4 May 2013, 04:35 PM
 

I attended the same performance as the reviewer, and while most of this review is warranted, my experience of the show is that the second half was marred by various homophobic 'jokes' that were offensive and offputting. He delivered a piece of advice, seemingly completely unironically, on how to ensure that others did not think you were gay while dancing, and used 'That's so GAY' as a punchline for a section loosely related to John Key, but rather than offer a commentary on how ridiculous such statements are, he seemed to genuinely think that calling things 'gay' was hilarious, going so far as to inform the not-laughing audience 'Fuck you, that's funny'. No. It wasn't. Further jokes about how much of a 'bitch' he was (bitch = weak) didn't help matters either.

It was simply disappointing to watch someone so aware of the power dynamics in racial/cultural stereoptypes appear so blissfully unaware of his lack of tact or sense in another area of discrimination. It is also disappointing that this reviewer failed to notice or acknowledge the obvious catalyst for the shift in the evening.