Brendhan Lovegrove: LIVE

Crunchie Comedy Chamber, Town Hall, Auckland

07/05/2008 - 10/05/2008

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details

Lovegrove’s Punch Lines to Fall on Deaf Ears
Sign Language first at NZ International Comedy Festival

Arguably New Zealand’s most naturally talented comedian, award-winning comic Brendhan Lovegrove returns to the 2008 NZ International Comedy Festival with a completely new show, showcasing the finest home-grown stand-up comedy has to offer, with an important and extremely worthwhile twist.

Lovegrove brings his award winning comedy to the Crunchie Comedy Chamber, teaming up for the first time with the art of sign language to bring the laughs to all comedy lovers this festival as part of New Zealand Sign Language Week. For the first time at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, the art of stand-up comedy will be paired with the language of sign, to create an outrageous partnership of physical movement and vocal hilarity.

Rachel Noble, CEO for the Deaf Association of NZ says that "it is a real bonus that the Deaf community will have access to top NZ comedian Brendhan Lovegrove, and even better that he is performing in the middle of New Zealand Sign Language Week! At last we will know what everyone around us is laughing about!"

As one of New Zealand’s finest and challenging comedians, 2008’s show once again expands the traditional comedy boundaries. Lovegrove’s rapid fire delivery and whirlwind trail of laughs will make this not only one of the most hilarious shows in 2008, but also one of the most fascinating displays of visual and spoken comedy the NZ International Comedy Festival has ever seen.

"Lovegrove’s humour is effective on many layers…his audacity is championship material" –

"He expanded my comedy boundaries, as well as exercising my belly laugh" –

Dates: 7th – 10th May, 8pm
Venue: Crunchie Comedy Chamber, Auckland Town Hall, THE EDGE®
Tickets: Adults $25, Concessions and Groups of 10+ $20
Bookings: TICKETEK – 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385)
Show Duration: 1 hour 

1hr, no interval

Pushing it

Review by Sian Robertson 09th May 2008

Relentlessly un-PC, Brendhan Lovegrove is a one-man version of South Park. He covers all the bases from racism to scatology, with something to offend everyone, except he’s got no ulterior motive, no political message.

Some of his gags are low blows, shocking for the sake of being shocking without anything intrinsically funny going on. It’s at these times he seems bored, knowing he can get the laughs purely because he’s a bad-ass who has his audience in the palm of his hand and can crush us if he wants to. I have to admire that he’s not afraid to take those risks, though; comedy is dull without a bit of danger.

Most of the time you’ll be laughing against your will, at yourself, the person next to you, the person in the front row, or your taxi driver. However, for Lovegrove, I suspect the risk lies in actually having something to say.

As with most comedy – live performances of any kind really – it pays to be up close and personal. Some of you are horrified at the idea of getting picked on and sit pressed up against a wall or near the back. Lovegrove is certainly one of the ones whose eye you should avoid catching if you’re timid. But others of us are willing to catch some flack, and possibly stray spit, for the privilege of getting the full force of the show and not missing out on anything.

Regrettably, I was locked away in the tower that is the ‘gallery’ of the Town Hall Chamber and un-pick-on-able. I wouldn’t be surprised if he put me up there on purpose – as we all know, reviewers kill the mood and make everyone self-conscious. Trouble was, up there it’s more like watching TV, and there were bits I didn’t catch – usually on those occasions when he keeps going at his undauntable pace while the crowd is still laughing hard from the last joke. The moral of this ramble: get stall seating if you can.

Pity I can’t read sign language because for the first two nights, it being sign language awareness week, he had an interpreter on stage with him, which, rather than distracting from his act, made for some pretty funny interactions, with Lovegrove asking what the sign was for ‘abortion’ and deliberately repeating filthy lines so that she’d have to re-enact them. The interpreter (whose name I didn’t catch, sorry) was very sporting. She had to work hard to keep up, but had the energy to match his pace.

He had few hecklers and none that dared identify themselves. Most of his audience interaction is initiated by the typical ‘where are you from?’ type questions, then he gives the compliant and unsuspecting fool who answers him a thorough bollocking. He called one audience member an ‘arrogant fuck’ and told another to suck his cock. As I said, not for the faint-hearted. It elicited some pretty funny impersonations, though, of crazy Scots, entertainment-starved Darvgavillians, etc. He’s very good at accents, which is lucky, given how many nationalities/regions he mocks the buggery out of.

The whole effect is a bit disjointed – a medley of stuff he’s thrown together that feels like he hasn’t put the effort in to create a cohesive and memorable show. But this is his style – lording it over us and to hell with what we want. If you’ve paid to come and see him and don’t like it, the laugh’s on you.

It’s not all lowbrow shock tactics though, that would just get boring and he’s not boring. Lovegrove has a talent for knowing just how far he can push it, then pushing it just a little bit further. He obviously has a line, though, because he doesn’t make mean jokes about deaf people.

Te Radar, who warms up the stage for the first 10 minutes ("because Brendhan can’t come up with more than 50 minutes of original material in a year!"), is his characteristically clever and good natured self, reminding me on this occasion of Woody Allen: geekily sincere and paranoid. He reckons he’s so inappropriate it’s only a matter of time before he ends up in prison after some unfortunate misunderstanding. Extrapolating worst-case scenarios and formulating ingenious but flawed escape plans, he has me laughing till it hurts.

Like Lovegrove, Radar includes the interpreter in his shtick, getting a kick out of her having to mime masturbating a bull, and enacting his rather painful analogy for how television work has been sucking the creativity out of him (although he does a pretty good rendition of this himself).   
For more production details, click on the title at the top of this review. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.  


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