BATS Theatre, The Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

21/06/2022 - 23/06/2022

Production Details

James Roque

You may have seen him on TV (Have You Been Paying Attention, The Masked Singer NZ, The NZ Comedy Gala and 7Days), now catch the Filipino stepson of NZ Comedy, live!  

Ever since he was a little kid, James Roque has always been called by his family by his Filipino nickname Badong. Now, after turning 30, he asks the question – is it time to retire the name?  

A brand new hour of laughs from one of NZ’s top comedians about growing up and finding joy in adulthood. 

Finalist2019 Fred Award For Best ShowNZ International Comedy Festival
“My Favourite Show Of The Festival” – Metro Mag NZ

“Bold, Unflinching… 4 Stars” – NZ Herald 

BATS Theatre, The Stage
Tuesday 21 – Thursday 23 June 2022
Full:  $25 
Concession:  $20
Group 6+:  $22 
The Difference:  $40

Solo , Stand-up comedy , Theatre ,

1 hr

A fast, furious, and funny dissection of racism and more

Review by Lynda Chanwai-Earle 22nd Jun 2022

As we enter the theatre to take our seats, we’re greeted by James Roque in a warm, familiar and disarmingly funny fashion, even though he says the show hasn’t officially started. It’s a clever ploy. Before we know it, he’s broken the ice and gained audience participation. Now we’re putty in his hands.

BADONG is a furiously fast-paced, witty combination of stand-up comedy interlaced with audio-visual in a power-point presentation. It’s a slick show by the Tagalog speaking, Filipino, generation 1.5 New Zealander. As he explains, James was born in the Philippines. He was a child of the ’90s when his family emigrated to Auckland. His wry humour has Taika Waititi overtones as he dissects the all too familiar and uncomfortable topic of racism encountered by new migrants.

Simply put, your experience as a five-year-old Asian migrant will be dominated by the three ‘Ls’: language, labels, and lunch. Language barriers aside, although many new Asian migrants may have learnt to speak English better than the locals, they will be confounded by “Aw, just pulling your leg!” idioms.

As the only Filipino child at a predominantly white Auckland primary school of the ’90s, James put up with the racist labels, but worst of all was criticism of his lunch lovingly prepared by his mum. True story: many traditional Asian mums show their love through food and for his first day at school James’s mum had prepared noodles and ‘Adobo’ (the unofficial national dish of the Philippines). When you’re desperately trying to blend in as a child of a highly visible minority community, lunch that stands out is your worst nightmare.  From that day on James begged his mum to make boring sandwiches for lunch like all the other kids, and as he retells it, he began his uncomfortable journey as a young wannabe ‘banana’ (yellow on the outside/white on the inside).

But what does ‘Badong’ mean? It’s a nickname given to him by his parents, after the unlikely hero of a famous Filipino movie of the ’90s. Exactly why his parents named him Badong is revealed in hilarious and self-deprecating ways throughout the show.

James splits his bitter-sweet experience growing up in New Zealand into three decades; his ‘desperate to fit in childhood’, his ‘angry teenage to early twenties’, and his present-day self. He’s just turned thirty and very comfortable in his skin now, but first he had to overcome that self-loathing that many new migrant children may experience, as the collateral damage of racism.

James deftly treads the fine line between ‘taking the piss’ out of his own Filipino culture(s) and the majority white or Pākehā culture(s), whilst not alienating his audience. We’re taken on an intimate journey full of self-directed irony through the highs, lows and extremely cringey ‘arsehole clenching’ moments of his life as a ‘broke actor’ and stand-up comedian. Ultimately, James Roque shows us that we come from a position of strength when we can laugh at ourselves.

Along the way you’ll meet the King and Queen of Malaysia, get to know some very unusual Tagalog phrases, and wish that your parents could cook adobo too. By the time the show finishes, you will, like James, have embraced the deeper meaning behind the affectionate nickname ‘Badong’.

It’s a short season and only on for one more night at BATS. Go see it and take your parents (or anyone’s parents!). They will appreciate the homage that is Badong, created by this talented Filipino New Zealander with a gift for the gab.


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