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NZ International Comedy Festival 2014
ROB HARRIS & NIK BRUCE-SMITH: The Professional Newbies

at Kitty O'Sheas, 28 Courtenay Place, Wellington
From 6 May 2014 to 10 May 2014

Reviewed by Hannah Smith, 7 May 2014

Nik Bruce-Smith and Rob Harris are not full time comedians, they both have day jobs and these day jobs provide the fodder for The Professional Newbies: two half hours of solo stand up inspired by the pair's various experiences as a part of the workforce. 

Nik Bruce-Smith is first off the bat, with a set loosely based around the sense of unease he experienced hitting his mid-twenties and concerns his youth is slipping away. Anecdotal accounts of pranks pulled and mistakes made are interspersed with observations of the typical behaviour of the young Kiwi male.

Bruce-Smith has a slick manner and a well-rehearsed set. The crowd responds warmly to his material and he relaxes more as the set progresses and he gets into his groove. 

Second to the stage is Canadian-born comedian Rob Harris, who has an affable and relaxed manner which belies the craft of his jokes. He covers his work-related RSI, his experiences as a Canadian living overseas, and the downsides of smoking.

There is some neatly observed humour here, and Harris's comfortable low-key stage manner makes some of his insights come as a surprise. The jokes are solid, and the pay-off is great – though a couple of times his sloppy diction means a good punchline doesn't land as hard as it should, not because it isn't funny but just because we didn't quite catch it.

On opening night it is clear that some of the ordering of material could use a rethink – neither of these guys closes his set on his biggest laugh – but there is plenty to enjoy here, and at $10 a ticket this is a great low risk/good reward offer from the festival.
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