Brendhan Lovegrove presents THE EMPERORS NEW SHOW

San Francisco Bathhouse, 171 Cuba St, Wellington

08/05/2007 - 12/05/2007

Crunchie Comedy Chamber, Town Hall, Auckland

23/05/2007 - 26/05/2007

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details

Brendhan Lovegrove

The leading man of New Zealand comedy, internationally renowned and award winning comic Brendhan Lovegrove, returns in 2007 to deliver his razor sharp wit in The Emperors New Show.

Following a sell-out 2006 season, Brendhan has gone on to win multiple New Zealand comedy awards, including the inaugural 2006 ‘Fred’ award for outstanding achievement in New Zealand comedy.  He was also named best male comedian by the NZCG, and was the owner of best show in 2006.

Throughout his career Brendhan has graced stages worldwide, being an invited guest at places such as the Sydney Cracker Comedy Festival, London’s Comedy Store, and UK TV’s ‘Live at Jongleurs.’ Along with hosting the most recent serious of ‘Pulp Comedy,’ Lovegrove has also recently performed on Australia’s Rove Live, a feat unmatched in New Zealand comedy.

This year Brendhan brings his unrivalled stage presence and biting social commentary to bear on topics that the rest of us would dare consider. Arguably the most dangerously talented stand up comedian in New Zealand, Brendhan’s ability to both challenge and delight audiences will be one of the highlights of the 2007 festival.

“Terrifyingly good.” – NZ HERALD

“Hilarious and always compulsive viewing” – THE DOMINION

Dates:  Tue 8 – Sat 12 May, 8.30pm
Venue:  San Francisco Bathhouse, 171 Cuba St, City
Tickets:  Adults $22 Conc. $18 Groups 10+ $18
Bookings:  Ticketek 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385)
Show Duration:  1 hour

Dates:  Wed 23 – Sat 26 May, 8.00pm
Venue:  Crunchie Comedy Chamber, Aotea Centre, THE EDGEā, City
Tickets:  Adults $25 Conc. $20 Groups 10+ $20
Bookings:  Ticketek 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385)
Show Duration:  1 hour

Theatre , Stand-up comedy , Solo ,

Like gangsta rap for whiteys without the rhythm?

Review by Nik Smythe 24th May 2007

From the instant he comes out on to the raised school assembly-hall style stage, directs the audience to applaud him loudly, notices two empty tables near the front and curses the sponsors using the c word for not even turning up, stomps down and barks at some people just seating themselves to take the empty seats up front, hustles them through making remarks about their clothing, scampers off stage, reintroduces himself on the mic offstage, comes out again directing us to voluminous applause a second time, we get a strong sense of Brendhan Lovegrove’s officious command over his arena.

He’s dressed in the proverbial emperor’s clothes, by which I don’t mean naked – as jugular as Lovegrove is wont to get he has enough mercy to spare his adoring minions a trial by fire of that magnitude.  I mean he’s classically underdressed in a black t-shirt and jeans with a dodgy button that he fiddles with all night, although it’s conceivable their was nothing wrong with it and it’s just another effective way of being weird and creepy.

For a guy who has paved a living commenting on his life as a slacker, Brendhan has an oddly republican air about him.  I guess that’s just the highly strung no hair thing.  And that air of ruthlessness and unstoppability.  And his assertion that if we don’t find him making fun of Pakistani’s funny, then the terrorists have already won.

In a starkly poetic allusion (whether or nor he knew his show had one of those) to his ’emperor’ status, Lovegrove is often rather impolite and even insulting to people who have paid good money to be treated this way.  A kind of Eat the Rich thing, unless they’re unwitting in which case the lesson would be never sit in the front for the show of a comedian whom you do not know.  He just chooses two or three suckers in the front and whittles and whales on them throughout the hour, hassling the 68 year old for being old,  the guy’s wife for being a woman… The guy is rough.

To refer to John Smythe’s analysis of standup in his review of Steve Wrigley and Simon McKinney: Doomed to Awesomeness, Brendhan’s ability to charm a polite audience member, and then drag their soul through those crazy standup mind-pictures of unheard of atrocities, often personal, sometimes scatological, puts him at the top of that ‘bully’ style game. Kind of like gangsta rap for whiteys without the rhythm? Is this what he is emperor of?

He certainly pushes the envelope with his subjects further than anyone I’ve seen in this festival, and that’s a tall order.  For that matter he’s set the bar for the ‘oh no you di’n’t’ factor on the popular topic of the recent gutter press the police have been receiving, at the same time viciously accosting one of his patsies.  My favourite snipe was "Any Americans here tonight?  …Thanks for ruining the world!" 

For me the moral issue comes back to the very most simple criterion of comedy – it must be funny.  I don’t like intimidation or social provocation, but when Brendhan baits his audience and then rips the hook out of their faces, it’s hilarious.  And I hate myself for laughing, because it is terrible.  So I love Brendhan for making me hate myself for laughing at his terrible behaviour.  Like the peasants in the story who laugh at their naked emperor, but also must laugh at themselves to some degree.  Perhaps Lovegrove is ultimately the emperor of disaffected middle class peasants in general?  More like a soapbox guru, but all right.

In conclusion I feel a need to explain that Brendhan Lovegrove’s humour is effective on many layers.  By no means is his work merely shock value.  I focus on that aspect because, even tough he is a slick professional with a genuine wit and an above average aptitude for caricature, his audacity is championship material.


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True stuff best

Review by Lynn Freeman 17th May 2007

It’s an interesting thing, watching an audience pour out of a comedy venue.  Depending on the calibre of the act of course, the people are smiling and immersed in conversation with their mates, talking over their favourite jokes.  They also tend to be in their 20s-30s.  You don’t see that nearly enough in our theatre audiences these days – neither the animation nor the age group (Bats excepted) and it’s a damn shame.  Leaves to be taken out of the comedy scene book.

In the queue to see Brendhan Lovegrove, Kiwi stand-up doing us proud in the London comedy venues, comes the man himself to chat to friends and fans.  Nice touch.  Behind the microphone he’s very assured – and very funny.  A few jokes from his gig last year made a return, which was a little surprising, but mainly it’s new material.  And if what he says is true, at least mostly, those true stories are his best stuff – an All Black saving him from a bashing in a pub in England, you couldn’t make that up.  Well maybe you could with an imagination like Lovegrove’s.

[Note: This is taken from a composite Comedy Fest Wrap review.- ed]


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Classic, honest stand up

Review by Helen Sims 12th May 2007

Apparently Brendhan Lovegrove doesn’t like opening nights. They have a weird awkward "vibe". If he hadn’t told us this at the end of his one hour show, I would never have known. Lovegrove is a confident, if self deprecating, stand up performer. He was more than up to the task of keeping the (full) audience at the Bath House amused. He did settle into the performance as time went by – and interestingly his use of expletives diminished as a result! [Read more]


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Boredom translated

Review by Thomas LaHood 10th May 2007

Mr. Lovegrove is widely promoted and acknowledged as New Zealand’s ‘premier comic’, and he is certainly a master of the embittered, withering wit that is the backbone of the stand-up form.  He looks the part too, shaved head, leather jacket, dragging heavily on his cigarette as he trawls along the queue waiting outside the venue, asking the punters "have you seen me before?"  The Emperor greets his subjects.

Onstage, he introduces his show as "a bit of a Greatest Hits, with a few new bits thrown in."  As a complete Lovegrove virgin I am none the wiser as to what material is new and what is old, but I soon realise I am in the minority. After the first volley of searingly witty one-liners about the Chinese population are fired off, the woman beside me wipes her tear-laden eyes and says to her partner, "He did that one last time but it’s still funny."

It is funny, it’s witty and it’s clever too.  Lovegrove’s best material complements his on-stage persona as a kind of wearied intellectual in a land of utter cretins – following dry and piercing observational jokes with mugging impersonations of  ‘typical’ kiwi audience members trying to get the punchline.  He talks about his touring overseas with a sort of wistful longing, even when the anecdote is a bad memory, as if even the worst that France, Scotland or Afghanistan had to offer must be better than playing to a home crowd.

The overall effect is, indeed, imperious.  Lovegrove is the seasoned professional, has seen it all, doesn’t have to try, knows what’s going to work and what isn’t.  His manner with the crowd is even more pronounced – he really goes to town, singling out unfortunates in the front rows and berating them for their own stupidity.  He pronounces his verdict, and the crowd duly roar with laughter – despite having heard all the gags before.

There’s a devilish side to this relationship with the audience.  Lovegrove plays up the dark humour, the inhumane stuff, which, coupled with his condescending approach equates to ‘I am evil, and a better man for it’.  He smirks with delight at his own offensiveness after describing his techniques for causing children emotional damage, distinct shades of Beelzebub flickering across his face.  Sometimes, to my eyes, this is not entirely convincing, and in fact leads Lovegrove into some quite sloppy territory.  He is prone to shouting, and an impersonation of a racist neighbour is positively suffocating to watch, as is his tirade against the hapless American in the front row (whose plaintive naivety could and should have been lampooned to much greater effect).

There’s no doubt that Lovegrove is a skilled comic.  Most of his material – presumably the old stuff – is high-grade wit, and the less strangulated impersonations work very well.  His timing is measured and doled out precisely.  But there is a tiredness that nags at his delivery throughout the set, and the material seems bitsy, unconnected.  It translates to a sense of boredom – his – and eventually, mine too.  The last ten minutes of the show trickle away, as Lovegrove repeatedly begins to wrap up and then takes another half-hearted stab at his victims in the front.  His final gag is beautiful, clever and strongly delivered, but of course as my tablemates point out, it’s one of his oldest.


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