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SMART, FROM THE HEART, WITH POLITICAL BITE

Print Version

NZ International Comedy Festival
JAMES NOKISE in SO–SO GANGSTA
presented by HAIR OF THE DOG PRODUCTIONS

at Fringe Bar, Cnr Cuba & Vivian, Wellington
From 7 May 2013 to 11 May 2013

Reviewed by Hannah Smith, 8 May 2013


James Nokise does not immediately appear like a gangsta: he is a little over dressed for the Fringe Bar actually, in a tux and tie.  However, this show is all about defying and transforming perceptions, and so the fancy get up is apt.  

We begin with a brief and informative slideshow that runs through a history of race relations in NZ, and the impact of sport – the All Blacks in particular – on transforming society and politics, and from there we move on to New Zealand's gang culture, with some tales from the mean streets of the Hutt Valley. 

Nokise is an accomplished comic, quick-witted, charming and in command of the stage.  He has a deft hand; jokes that would be bad taste on the part of a less savvy performer are nicely judged, and his ‘Maori voice' and Polynesian/KFC material is used to interrogate racial stereotyping in comedy – as well as to make everyone laugh. 

He has silly walks, and a slow striptease and enough physical comedy to keep the stage alive, but there is a political message at the centre of the show that makes it more than just gags. What we see is only part of what we get. Kids in gangs are really just kids in T-shirts, and they are way less scary, and have a lot less power over you, than political parties, who are also colour coded. 

Nokise's comedy is smart and from the heart, and opening night in Wellington play to a full house who lap it up.  Book fast for this one, because it is going to sell out.
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 Patrick Davies