Breaking the 5th Wall – or What is Humour?

BATS Theatre, Wellington

06/05/2009 - 09/05/2009

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details


Breaking the 5th Wall is a Monty Python-esque sketch based piece that questions, investigates, probes and exposes comedy.

"What is funny . . . and why?"

If you are looking for an absurd, fast-paced flow of consciousness, slap-stick pastiche of comedy (that you can bring your Gran to) – Breaking the 5th Wall is the show for you!

Loosely based on the character-driven, ‘absurdity of daily life’ work of Python and epic mythology studies of philosopher Joseph Campbell, Breaking the 5th Wall wants to engage and entertain the audience in the possibilities of, rather than the answers to this question of ‘comedy’.

"Breaking the 5th Wall is a show about humour – finding the laugh where it should be and also where you didn’t expect it to be…like maybe in a trombone case?…" Josh Samuels, Writer-Performer and former Chairman of the NZ Society of Professional Quote Writers  

So open your mind and set it free. If it comes back, you’ll know it’s yours to keep.

Dates:  6-9 May 2009, 9.30pm
Venue:  BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
Tickets:  $16 Full /$13 Concession & Groups of 8+
Bookings: or 04 802 4175  


1hr, no interval

Well worth it

Review by John Smythe 07th May 2009

Well rehearsed and dynamically presented, Breaking the 5th Wall – or What is Humour? is a refreshing step up from stand up. Written by Josh Samuels (from the USA, trained in OZ), who also performs, it seriously sets out to answer the question in its title. But of course the anarchic nature of comic energy both subverts and advances it in a surprisingly intriguing way.

While clearly aware that analysing humour, in performance at least, can only kill it, Samuels with co-performers Lucy Edwards and Woody Tuhiwai, directed by Merrilee McCoy, play the game sufficiently to make us consider the question and observe proceedings in a different way.

The device of a Mum reading to her child, about the quest to find the oldest joke in the world, literally book-ends the show. Academics cross theories and play status games. A Vox Pop survey seeks to discover why the fart joke has fallen into disuse and even the Voice of God gets involved.

The role of truth is identified, improvisation is employed, there’s a whimsical play with the notion that memory loss and déjà vu are incompatible, late night comedy shows get a serve while providing a context for a clown psychotherapy sketch and a look at the ‘catch phrase’ syndrome.

Each performer plays to their strengths and makes a strong contribution to the whole. All in all it’s an entertaining 50-odd minutes, marred only by the finale: a piss-take of thank-yous culminating in a song called ‘If Jesus Was a Cricketer’ that’s just not funny enough to earn its spot.  

Well worth it, though.
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