Granary Festival Café, Founders Heritage Park, Nelson

23/10/2015 - 24/10/2015

Fringe Bar, Cnr Cuba & Vivian, Wellington

01/05/2013 - 04/05/2013

Hamilton Gardens, Rhododendron Lawn, Hamilton

19/02/2016 - 19/02/2016

Assembly, Roxy, Edinburgh, Scotland

12/08/2014 - 25/08/2014

Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

15/05/2013 - 18/05/2013

Playhouse Theatre, Dunedin

07/10/2016 - 07/10/2016

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Dunedin Arts Festival 2016

Nelson Arts Festival 2015

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2016

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Production Details


The author will use various body parts including his limbs, hands, mouth hole and brains to convey wonder. Music… is a sound. The author will use the boutique medium of record players to play sound from the stage zone, into the ears of the public audience. He will make amusing remarks and punchlines simultaneously. Two turntables and a microphone, plus maracas, and a beautiful handmade Calypso shirt.

Opening first in Wellington May 1st the show will only reach Auckland Wednesday the 15th of May, which is fitting, as the 15th is traditionally an odd number.

Calypso Nightsis presented by Barnie Duncan, aka Juan Vesuvius. An anti-comedy, nouveau-clown, ridiculous lurch at musical joke throwing. There might not even be that much talking, hence perhaps not many actual jokes.

Barnie has been making genre stretching comedic shows via his company Theatre Beating for over 10 years. His show Constantinople won the 2011 STAMP award at the Auckland Fringe, and the 2012 Hackman award for Most Original Production. He has toured it to critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Adelaide Fringe, the Melbourne Comedy Festival and the 2012 NZ International Comedy Festival.

He has performed experimental stand-up in Berlin, Melbourne and Auckland, but has never done anything in the stand-up field over 7 minutes. He was part of the faux-German Conceptual Art Duo Super Uber, which ran a TV show on the now defunct Alt TV for over a year, achieving cult status, and resulting in the stage version of the show This Is a Plum winning Best Outdoor at the 2006 Wellington Fringe Festival. 

“Duncan is a marvellously funny performer”The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 2011 

So beautifully focused on the scenarios, his performance added a truthfulness to the humour”  – In Search of LOLitanium, Melbourne, 2011 

“… A witty actor with a particular flair for physical comedy.”– Theatrescenes, NZ, 2011 

As part of the 2013 NZ International Comedy Festival


Dates: Wed 1 – Sat 4 May, 10pm
Venue: The Fringe Bar, Corner Vivian and Cuba Street

Dates: Wed 15 – Sat 18 May, 10pm
Venue: The Basement Studio, Lower Greys Ave, CBD

Tickets:  $12 – $18 (booking fees may apply)
Bookings: 0800 TICKETEK  (842 538) or  

For the sweetest deals and hottest comedy news throughout the Festival head to  

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Nominated for Best Newcomer, New Zealand Comedy Festival 2013. Genius funny clown education party dance. Do you like this?

Assembly Roxy (Venue 139)
12-25 August 2014
1 hour
Suitability: 16+ (Guideline) 
Group: Theatre Beating  

Granary Festival Café
Fri 23 & Sat 24 October, 9pm 



Calypso DJ Juan Vesuvius (aka Barnie Duncan)


A high energy, all-in, musical and comedic extravaganza.


“A blur of funky basslines, blaring horns and non-stop dancing!”

They never fail to bring their tropical cyclone of mad calypso rhythm to the dance floor.  Crisp suited and sharp-witted members include past favourites the Melbourne SKA Orchestra, Suitcase Royale, NO ZU and The Lucksmiths.


“One of the most jaw-achingly good musical-comedy shows New Zealand has ever seen” – NZ Herald

Calypso DJ Juan Vesuvius (aka Barnie Duncan) uses two turntables and a microphone, maraca virtuosity and a beautifully handmade shirt to deliver a truly unique experience. Almost indescribable, never usual and ending with an all-in Latin dance party.

Winner of the Genius Award in Edinburgh Fringe 2014.

Friday 19 Feb, 8.00pm – 11.00pm
Rhododendron Lawn
$ 49.00 Theatre+Music/
General Admission (seats available if required)/180 mins 

Winner of Skinny Magazine Fringe Genius Award, Edinburgh

Arts Festival Dunedin 2016

Playhouse Theatre
Fri 7 Oct 10pm
Bar 6:30pm – Late
General Admission
Adult $30
Student $20 
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Theatre , Physical , Musical ,

From bewilderment to dancing via calypso

Review by Kimberley Buchan 08th Oct 2016

Barnie Duncan presents himself as DJ Juan Vesuvius this night. He is immaculately dressed with frilled sleeves, sparkly red belt, tight tights and day spa slippers. He has the full set up: sound desk, turntables, records and a multitude of maracas.

Juan Vesuvius is very educational for a DJ. He is passionate about sharing with you everything that is important about calypso music, which is mostly sex and politics. Juan Vesuvius is extremely into one of those two things, but even more enthusiastic about his maracas. Possibly the best part of the show is when Duncan is demonstrating everything that a maraca can do or be. This allows Duncan’s aptitude for physical comedy to come to the fore.

Duncan is a great actor and has created a solid character in Juan Vesuvius. Even though every joke is stretched out to breaking point, his charm manages to win everyone over in the end. It is no mean feat to get every single member of a Dunedin audience up on their feet and dancing in the theatre at the end of a show. 

Audience bewilderment is built into the show at the start, so just hang in there. The DJ’s English rapidly improves over the course of the one hour show. Juan Vesuvius is a very friendly guy, and so will want to interact with nearly everyone in the audience. Sometimes you are fortunate enough to provide the romantic lighting for him as he poses for you, other times you get to touch his maracas and if you are really lucky you might get to participate in one of the more original uses for record covers that I have ever seen.

It seems that calypso music and DJ Vesuvius have a plan to make the world a better place. His geopolitical analysis of the North Korean situation is the best anthropomorphising of a reclusive dictator you will see in the Dunedin Arts Festival. When Duncan has finished with you, you will leave the theatre with calypso ringing in your ears and a new interpretation of some of the song lyrics. You may find them inspiring. 


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Sexy, mysterious and political

Review by Ruth Allison 24th Oct 2015

Mad from the moment we walk in. A faux DJ, Juan Vesuvius, with a libido as big as the flounces on his shirt, struts his stuff looking like a frilled-neck lizard as he welcomes the audience. His slightly bemused and self-delusional stare makes them giggle.

A stream of Spanish starts the show and his audience squirm with embarrassment. Apart from the odd word – Venezuela, maracas, Mexico – they understand nothing and neither does he until he calls his agent who explains the need to speak in English. Halting English … Suddenly a deeply New Zealand voice: “I lived in Auckland and used to roller skate …” Now we know he is one of us.

It’s all bullshit. Through skit after skit, so fast, wrapped in a cleverly arranged sound track he makes us believe he is the ultimate DJ. What he can’t do with LP album sleeves isn’t worth knowing. He flings them about looking for the right track to persuade us that Calypso music is different from any other. He has any number of musical oddities and wins us over. At the end of the night we are all dancing Calypso style. 

Skits tumble over each other to gain audience approval. After a particularly steamy number he pours his bottle of water not just into his mouth but all over his glamorous shirt, which is open of course; wide open with the glimpse of a gold chain. His timing is perfect, his idiotic gaze excruciating.

But it is his skill with the maracas that wins the audience over. He uses them to ski cross country, he is a bleating goat, his unsuspecting audience is made to indulge in a sexual fantasy. It is risqué but it works. The audience lap it up so to speak.

Suddenly a change of tone. Politics enters the fray. The Miss World competition gets a ribbing. “It’s easy to win a Miss World Competition if you have the most number of beautiful women in the world. It’s a fact. Venezuela has the most beautiful women.” It’s true. I looked it up. Kim Jong-un gets a basting. A “little penguino who has lived all his life in a dark cupboard. It’s a fact.”  Corrupt politicians are needled. Juan (Barnie Duncan) Vesuvius’ riotous rendition of Calypso music – sexy, mysterious and political – is undisputed. Que Bueno.


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Cheeky confidence

Review by Dione Joseph 27th Aug 2014

It’s almost 11pm and for some folk the party is just about to start.

A microphone, mobile disco set-up, two turntables and ruffled sleeves – actually that’s ruffled sleeves from another planet – a thick Latino accent and charisma oozing from every shake of the eyebrows: that’s Kiwi clown Barnie Duncan or, as he’s better known at the Edinburgh Fringe, DJ Juan Vesuvius

On the surface Calypso Nights may seem like an opportunity to improve your Spanish, maybe learn the difference between the Mexican and Venezuelan flag, have a hippie huggle (halfway between a hug and a cuddle), listen to some retro tunes and giggle at cunnilingus references. And you can do all that and walk away happy. But the beauty of Calypso Nights is that it does a lot more.

This is a smart, subversive show challenging not just what we think we know but what we expect from a theatre show. Blurring the line between solo comedy and theatre, the performance is a beautiful mash-up of Latin tunes, an introduction to the maracas and soca, and a clever parody of how Latinos behave (and are expected to behave), especially within an Anglo-context. 

The show begins with Duncan introducing himself in rapid-fire Spanish, only pausing when he discovers the majority of his audience can only respond with the rather shy ‘si’ to his stream of questions. And so the show rewinds, quite literally with Duncan moving through all the motions he’d just performed, and begins again in English.

It’s a fantastic start because not only was Duncan successful in holding the audience’s attention for nearly fifteen minutes while he gabbled in Spanish but linguistic barriers and the lack thereof suddenly became very apparent – whether you’re in the theatre or in a Latin club. 

In all honesty there’s not an awful lot of Calypso music (again, that’s not the point) but there is Kate Bush, a lot of maraca shaking and cheesy lyrics that will have you wondering where is the difference between the ridiculous and the ridicule? 

Satirical in subject, the content meanders through socio commentary, dips into political comedy (with some slightly uncomfortable moments about North Korea) and is ultimately, fresh and celebratory. 

Duncan’s genius lies in the fact that his cheeky and confident portrayal goes beyond the politics of representation – he knows the stereotypes and he puts them front and centre stage with aplomb.

If you’re looking for a masterclass in Latin culture (would you really look for your future spouse in a nightclub?) then this isn’t quite the place to be but if you are eager to have an evening of fun alongside a very clever Kiwi then follow this show wherever it’s goes.


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Semi-cultural experience of love, politics and ‘making fun’

Review by Nik Smythe 16th May 2013

The laughter and simple joy that Calypso Nights generates makes it an excellent choice for late-night comedy punters who haven’t quite had enough yet, or even those who think they have. 

Two turntables and a microphone, and a box of mostly twelve inch vinyl discs (once a popular form of audio-playback entertainment, as we twentieth century folk recall) are reverently dressed in the Mexican flag.  Our host for the evening – one Juan Vesuvius, sweeping in ominously with his black cape across his face like Dracula – is actually Venezuelan. 

The absence of any substantial explanation for the flag discrepancy is one of several mercurial features in this bizarrely festive, music-based late-night festivity.  Another is the distinct language barrier, most acute during the first ten minutes or so as Vesuvius appears to be under some misconception about which country we’re in.  

If his segment in last Sunday’s Le Comique at Sky City was like the seven-inch played on a jukebox, then the full Basement Theatre hour is the LP in the upstairs lounge.  The more intimate setting makes it easier for Juan to project his sensual radiance throughout the small (full) house, and the crowd seems well lubricated and up for it from the get go.

By chance I heard actor Barnie Duncan interviewed on bFM earlier in the day where he explained how he came up with the character many years ago, when invited to a porn themed costume party.  Initially feigning shyness with his earnest queries as to ‘do you like this?’, Juan’s smouldering intensity seems to know no bounds, and his maraca-mad compulsions endear him to his adoring public, particularly in the front row. 

His Spanish is impressively fast and fluent, his shirt extremely frilly and his cummerbund dramatically red.  He has the confident air of one who believes he’s God’s gift to women and if he’s really as skilled in a certain particular amorous pastime as his vocal obsession suggests, he just may be.

Through the medium of his decks, Juan illustrates the three themes in his beloved Calypso and its more electronic cousin, Soca: Love, politics and ‘making fun’.  The mention of politics admittedly brings to my mind the recent passing of President Chavez, South America’s greatest socialist hero of our time, but Vesuvius makes no mention of him.  Too soon perhaps?  Instead he waxes philosophical on the plight of Kim Jong-un – understandably more of a comedy goldmine. 

The satisfying hour of semi-cultural entertainment comprises a handful of key routines, my favourite being the ingenious interactive dance piece performed using album cover illustrations as sort of puppets.  It’s not all Caribbean music either, various contrasting styles are played for comparison purposes, one or two of which may surprise you… 

The message underpinning the whole audio-spectacle is the ever-welcome idealistic notion that the world would be a better place if everyone used their bodies to dance instead of fight wars.  The inherent truth of that is punctuated and given traction through the experiential all-in maracas-and-booty-shaking climax. 


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A master of unpredictability and subverting expectations

Review by John Smythe 02nd May 2013

Being of a generation that thought Harry Belafonte was the King of Calypso, cried “Day-O!” from Wellington hilltops, sang ‘Island in the Sun’ and ‘The Jamaica Farewell’ around campfires and heeded his warning about that other ‘Matilda’ who didn’t waltz but took his money and ran to Venezuela, I thought I was Calypso literate. But that was before I encountered Juan Vesuvius.   

The latest creation of Barnie Duncan, the ultra-suave and very sexy Juan Vesuvius hails from Venezuela (could he be the son of Matilda?) and comes with his own applause and laugh tracks the via twin turntables and mixing desk atop a table adorned by … the flag of Mexico (because he couldn’t get a Venezuelan one).

This we gather from his mucho speedy and fluent introductory chat in what I take to be Venezuelan Spanish (based on a Castilian dialect), in which Gloria Estefan gets a mention, I’m not sure why.

His on-mic vox pops with audience members suggests we all speak Spanish (or Creole or a convincingly accented gibberish; there are talented people at his opening night). Eager to get our measure, Juan checks out what we like and it turns out – amenable and malleable mob that we are – we like anything and everything, except the sudden and intrusive noise from the Fringe Bar fridges.

Despite our compliance, something tells him we want his show in English so he backtracks (think turntables) and on resuming discovers, with some consternation, that everything he does gets a laugh, albeit canned. I discern a critique of comedy audiences here, and/or the fabrication of audience responses on TV comedy shows.  

It has felt like a long warm up/introduction, saved from tedium by this audience’s absolute trust in Duncan’s judgement and skills. And now the show becomes more focused – on enlightening us as to the true qualities of Calypso. This he achieves – thanks to his two turntables and an admirable ability to juggle discs (not to mention album covers later in the show) – by comparing and contrasting Calypso with different genres, involving some surprising choices.   

We learn extraordinary facts about Trinidad and Tobago, the birthplace of Calypso; we’re alerted to the mysteries of the maraca; we’re initiated into the three essential qualities of Calypso music: sex, politics and making fun, and we discover how The Mighty Sparrow combines all three. (Google him.)

On the political front, we come to understand how the relationship – or lack of one – between Kim Jong-Il and Calypso has become a threat to world peace, via an ingeniously spun ‘documentary’.

Barnie Duncan is a master of unpredictability and subverting expectations so if you think you have the measure of this show from my indications, you haven’t. You really do have to be there – and there are many elements which, by their very nature, will be very different in every performance.

Calypso Nights is ideally scheduled as a late night show. Treat yourselves.


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