Aaron Barber TEXODUS
02/03/2022 - 02/03/2022
01/03/2022 - 02/03/2022
Former Texan Aaron Barber found himself “stuck” in New Zealand during the pandemic. Unable to return to his adopted home in Malaysia and unwilling to go back to America for… reasons, Aaron jumped headfirst into the NZ comedy circuit.
As co-creator of the 2020 Fringe Show Tour “American Refugees” and producer of the hit series “Yeah…Nah Comedy” in Wellington, Aaron has been spreading big laughs to audiences across Aotearoa.
For Aaron’s first Fringe Solo hour, he recounts the hilarious stories of his progression from awkward theatre kid in Texas to awkward adult man and standup comic traveling the world seeking a new place to call home.
Brash and loud measured with wit and charm, he’s one act you won’t want to miss.
“Nothing but a comedy delight” – Merry Lion Singapore
“Aaron Barber easily disarms the audience with his southern charm and sharp wit. Fans are urged to catch him before he gets too big for his cowboy hat!”
– Dr. Jason Leong: Netflix’ “Hashtag Blessed”
The Fringe Bar, 26-32 Allen Street, Te Aro
Tuesday 1 – Wednesday 2 March 2022
The Fringe Bar, 26-32 Allen Street, Te Aro
General Admission $15.00 Concession $10.00 Fringe Addict $12.00 Ticket + $5 $20.00 Ticket + $10 $25.00
Aaron will be broadcasting the March 2nd show on live stream via his Facebook Page: Facebook.com/aaronbarber.us
Theatre , Stand-up comedy , Solo ,
Cultural contrasts and worldly humour
Review by Shauwn Keil 03rd Mar 2022
Sadly, I could not be present at the Fringe Bar to catch Texodus live. However, bless the technological pantheon, a livestream was made available! What a great resource to have in the terrible times of self-isolating, and one more blessing to add; not a single fault in the recording to hinder my experience. We’re on our way.
The set is simple, this is stand up and doesn’t call for more than the Texan Flag draped over a bar stool. A minute into the livestream, we are half-heartedly welcomed to the show in a stumble through of words by the tech operator (Myles McGuire), which at first seems unenthusiastic and careless but as the comical theme of the show unfolds over the hour, I look back and think perhaps this was a deliberate thematic choice. Still, an introduction like this could do with more caricature to make this clear, or even energy to work for the crowd’s anticipation, and my first impression is unchanged.
From here, it’s all up. Gavin Hews is introduced to the stage, and quickly warms us into our night, addressing the magnificent feat of selling out – to a Red Light capacity crowd. On the nose yet handled with grace. Hews plays this wonderful game of playing against the typical Wellingtonian expectation of relating to a more left leaning crowd, with what comes off as self-aware poking fun at much of the local norms.
Engaging interactions between himself and members of the audience, as well as clever antagonising with youthful yankee charm, Gavin Hews confidently reminds us that in 2022, we can still enjoy the harsher content provided when the Comedian wears a purposefully ignorant mask over a percipient mind. What a great choice for an opening act.
Once the audience is elevated, Gavin welcomes the headliner to the stage. Out from the left bounds Aaron Barber (writer, comedian) and immediately we are met with a new, fast paced energy. Barber leads us in with stories and jokes about a ‘Psy-Trance’ Festival, Twisted Frequency. While the core content of this first segment may not hit home with some of tonight’s audience, the comedian’s knack for delivery and ability to generalise enough of the specifics works in his favour.
Shortly after, vaccines, or rather, the mindset of getting them, are brought into question. The first clear link between the Kiwi experience and USA experience is here in a joke about Super Saturday. It does provoke thought: why was KFC a more attractive reason to vaccinate than the health and well-being of those near and dear for some? But to dwell on this would be a detriment to following the performer’s arc.
Observations and jokes that compare and contrast our cultures begin to fly in. The Kiwi accent is dubbed the sexiest in the world, while ironically, Kiwi men are rated the worst lovers in the world. Walking in Countdown barefoot, tall poppy syndrome, free healthcare versus the abomination they have over there (personal opinion), and the US penchant for beautifully titled media outlets, next to the simpler ones NZ provides, such as… Stuff. A re-enactment of an ‘Irvines’ pie advertisement gets a great response from the audience.
As far as content goes, I’ll save the spoiling; this scrapes the surface of what is put forward. Though a quick mention to my favourite moments: “give it up for the tradies”, Groot, and two hilarious call-backs pertaining to the military, strippers, and Jim Carrey (the latter of which closes the show to a great laugh).
Barber is entirely relaxed in his presence and hardly touches his beer. His experience is clear throughout, allowing enough air for laughter but having the sense to move on as appropriate. If he wants focus directed somewhere, he achieves it effortlessly. The character voices for the ignorant Texan and soon-to-be father-in-law are excellent, and my first criticism is on missing vocal dynamic for setups and punchlines: something that Barber already has a good handle on as a well-travelled funny man but also something that a Director could help bring the last ten percent out of him for a greater performance.
My second and final note is on some of the darker content. A chloroform joke is handled well as a mindful red herring, meets with scattered laughter. Other quips of borderline nature perhaps lack the same care around them on paper. Thanks to the constant trajectory and Barber’s presence in the moment, this never drops the audience off-side, but I feel that potential for laughter does sit in those riskier jokes as our opening act brilliantly displayed.
All in all, this is a show full of cultural contrasts and worldly humour. Aaron Barber has crafted an excellent observation over his time in New Zealand (and Asia) and provides Kiwi’s with a unique insight into our own culture, knowing that we can laugh at ourselves in the process. He may be a Texan by blood, but as far as I’m concerned, he’s one of us.
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