BEN TARGET - Discover Ben Target

Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

28/04/2015 - 02/05/2015

BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

05/05/2015 - 09/05/2015

NZ International Comedy Festival 2015

Production Details

A maelstrom of award-winning visual comedy, audacious high jinks and unforgettable audience molestation from this critically acclaimed absurdist sensation.

This is the sort of mad experience – ‘show’ doesn’t seem to be quite the right word – that ought to be part of everyone’s fringe” –

This highly physical performer is a true original and a legend in the making” – The Guardian

Best Newcomer nominee 2012, Edinburgh Fringe

  • The Thursday 30 April, 8.45pm show in Auckland will be interpreted into NZSL for the Deaf community by an iSign NZSL Interpreter


Auckland Dates: Tue 28 April – Sat 2 May, 8.45pm

Venues: The Basement Studio, Auckland


Adults $25.00
Conc. $23.00
Groups 4+ $23.00* service fees may apply

Bookings: 09 309 9771

Wellington Dates Tue 5 May – Sat 9 May, 9.00pm

Venues: The Dome at BATS Theatre, Wellington


Adults $20.00
Conc. $16.00
Groups 6+ $15.00* service fees may apply


04 802 4175

Comedy ,

1 hour

Oddly engaging quirky flirtation of wit

Review by Emma Gatsby 06th May 2015

Ben Target – pronounced Tar-jay (of course) – is setting what appears to be a new precedent in quirky comedy.  Being a nominee for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe 2012, I imagine I’ll get a few good belly laughs in.  How wrong I am!

I enter the theatre with some anticipation and excitement for what is rumoured to be a ‘physical experience’.  Ben is renowned for his use of props which litter the stage and further engage the anticipation.  I am concerned for him already though, having pulled in such a small crowd and with a front row that touches Ben’s socks! How will he handle the intimacy?  How will he keep us all engaged?

A rather clown like, bearded man enters the stage and begins to ‘mind-handle’ the audience into what can only be described as a submissive, trance like state.  Ben is quirky I’ll give him that; he is also very committed.  And his eclectic, heavily prop-driven, egocentric style of comedic entertainment should have you suitably confused.  

He very cleverly manages to have us in the palm of his hand and I’m almost certain that if he asked us to remove half our clothes and loop hands with each other between our legs in some kind of elephant dance and meander out of the theatre down Courtney Place, well we probably would. Is this funny? For the observer for sure.  Pretty certain Ben is laughing hysterically as he exits the space with a cheeky wink. 

It’s a very clever style of comedy, oddly engaging, punctuated with quirky flirtation of wit.  He is compelling I’ll give him that, it is hard to take my eyes off him and the whole show is an inquisitive journey into “what the hell’s coming next”? Ben faithfully teases with the question: improv or script?

Clearly this comedian has a penchant for weird which is a humour that admittedly doesn’t make me laugh in my bones.  If you have an eclectic sense of humour and enjoy engaging in weird shenanigans, then this show is for you.  To have heard that Ben’s work is surreal and unusual is an invitation into the adventure of what’s been claimed as the ‘genius’ of his quirky world.  However, to be honest, it doesn’t leave me wanting more, rather it leaves me feeling I have been humorously humiliated. 

On reflection – that’s quite funny! 


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Deliberately awkward and inevitably divisive

Review by Nik Smythe 29th Apr 2015

On a drizzly low-vibe Tuesday evening my companion and I set out to the Basement Theatre Studio to discover Ben Target.  What we discover is an unnervingly quiet fellow with a short mullet, in a white suit and trainers: a bit like Dr Who if he was played by the love child of Dean O’Gorman and Pete Townshend. 

To stand out among the plethora of competing festival stand-up shows, many comedians like to affect some sort of unique point of difference.  Target’s is to string toilet paper around like party streamers or a cordon strip – but why?  …By the show’s end we still don’t know; in fact it takes a while to realise it has ended.

Taking his sweet time, Target’s stern countenance is virtually an anathema to what most people would expect or think of as comedy.  He never smiles as he growls out his opinions and instructions with a menacing whisper clearly designed to disconcert. Some are clearly at a loss as to how to take what amounts to an intriguing social experiment of sorts.   

Audience participation is a key element, to put it mildly, as enforced by our disdainful host with all the self-entitlement of a passive-aggressive PE teacher. There’s also a degree of pseudo-profundity as numerous bizarre exercises conclude with the kind of personal development type pearls of wisdom as you might find in an affirmation book or fortune cookie. 

Generally speaking the dozen-strong opening night audience goes with it willingly, partly as a matter of mad-cap festivular anything-can-happen course, with an element of it’ll all be over quicker if we just play along.  Considering the amount of bewildering inertia that permeates the piece, looking back it’s actually quite remarkable just how many props and tricky devices Target employs throughout. 

Running at a lean 45 minutes on opening night, a larger or differently disposed audience could feasibly stretch it to the full hour, mostly adding more minutes of confusion and unease.  Fans of dark, uncompromising absurdism (like me) will be rewarded with this deliberately awkward and inevitably divisive show. Those with a preference for gregarious personalities and up-beat gags, less so.


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