TWO OUT OF THREE HILARIOUSLY CRINGE-INDUCING
NZ International Comedy Festival 2014|
BRENDON GREEN SOME MORE MR NICE GUY
at BATS Theatre (Out Of Site), Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington
From 7 May 2014 to 10 May 2014
Reviewed by Shannon Friday, 8 May 2014
The main conceit of the evening is that Green opens up his deepest, darkest secrets (or at least the deepest darkest secrets he is willing to tell a room full of strangers) and then at the end of the night, we judge whether or not he is actually a nice guy. And I totally buy into this game. It's great. Who doesn't like judging people, really?
There are three main stories, and the first and last are brave, honest, and absolutely engaging; familiar situations in which no-one can really be ‘nice', only maybe be a decent human being. Green's comparisons of his shortcomings with his desire to be a nice guy provides hilarious, cringe-inducing moments.
The middle story feels unshaped; confessional, as such comedy must be, but I'm not sure where the laughs are here, and I'm mostly just really uncomfortable. It is also the one experience I've not had myself, and there may be something in there about how this kind of comedy works.
In between the stories is a random hodgepodge of different types of comedy. It reminds me of how my babysitter used to tell if spaghetti was done: throw it against the wall and see whether it sticks. There are two songs, including starting the show with the lyrics “everybody dies.” The title of the song is a great punchline, and prepares me for a wry night.
A second song of one-liners mostly falls flat; the jokes here feel pretty old hat, though combining all the jokes at the end provides a late lift. Doing familiar stuff means the joke becomes how it is executed, and it just needs a more complex payoff. And Green masters this in his first and last story – I want to know how he fouled up those situations from the moment he lays them out.
The observational bits are mostly forgettable. There could be more in there around this question of what does it even mean to be nice, such as in a great moment in which Green explains why the phrase “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be” is the best moral you could possibly teach kids.
For me, Green's greatest gifts are as a storytelling comedian, like Mike Birbiglia or Louis CK, rather than a one-liner guy like Jimmy Carr or witty observer like Nick Rado. Those stories, man – that's when Green really shines.
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