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

26/04/2016 - 30/04/2016

Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

10/05/2016 - 14/05/2016

NZ International Comedy Festival 2016

Production Details

Following a sold-out season at last year’s Fest, Alice Brine returns as a Billy T nominee.

Take a ride on the observational freight-train that is life inside the brain of Brine; she’s got a real ‘Beautiful Mind’ vibe going on – except instead of maths, there’s just a lot of really elaborate ideas. 

Going hundy from the minute she walks in the room, with a legit ridiculous approach to logic, Brine leaves you laughing at things you didn’t know you could laugh at. She delivers stories that have absolutely no chill; Alice Brine has a magic way of being relatable in the most unexpected ways.

Twitter – @alicebrine

The Dome at BATS Theatre
TUE 26 – SAT 30 April 2016

Full Price: $18.00
Concession: $14.00
Group 6+: $13.00
Cheap Wednesday: $14.00
*service fee may apply


Basement Theatre Studio
TUE 10 – SAT 14 May 2016

Full Price: $18.00
Concession: $14.00
Group 6+: $13.00
Cheap Wednesday: $14.40
*service fee may apply 


Theatre , Stand-up comedy , Solo ,


Review by Nik Smythe 11th May 2016

In the first few mildly awkward acclimatising minutes, pink-haired young Wellingtonian Alice Brine introduces herself and declares her clinically hyperactive condition, in part to explain any potential topic-straying or blanking out during the show.  Then the rear curtain is drawn back to reveal what she calls a ‘list of subjects’; in fact it is an impressively detailed, if concerningly frenetic mind-map scrawled obsessively on a few square metres of taped-together brown paper.

Her ADHD is the mainstay topic of Brine’s set, and there’s certainly plenty of humour to be mined from it as proven by her classically casually delivered, albeit motor-mouthed hour-long set.  The ubiquitous issue is interwoven throughout a range of others, including engaging anecdotes about work, flatting, social media and sexual encounters leading to medical emergencies, and more.

It makes sense for any comedian to talk about the issues they face in their everyday lives – ADHD being a case in point.  So, like many female comedians, it borders on inevitable for Brine to take issue with certain gender-specific concerns, such as the wage gap (in passing) and menstruation (in detail) and most appropriately, the difficulty some people have with the very existence of women in comedy.  It’s a shame in a way, though it’s certainly not the women’s fault.

The use of a microphone in the intimate Basement Studio space seems a mite conspicuous in its lack of necessity, but I suppose it could potentially be equally if not more so for a standup to not use one.  Regardless, Alice Brine’s fresh, honest demeanour and natural wit places her firmly in the category of young up-and-comer to watch out for.



nik smythe May 12th, 2016

You're right there. Pretty much everything Alice talks about in Brinestorm about is on point and hilarious, and in focussing on the socio-politics it seems I stingily neglected to emphasise that important fact.  Laura's show is also highly worthwhile, so if this was not apparent I am sorry.

Matt Powell May 12th, 2016

It's a real shame this review spends so much time on what Alice talks about in her set, and the varying degrees of "inevitability" with which she addresses her topic, and so little on how well (or otherwise?) she does it. With this choice you as a reviewer define the performer by her choice of subject material, rather than by her skill, and so anyone using this review as a guide to whether or not they want to see the show will do so based on what they think of those topics, rather than whether they want to see this particular performer address them in what may be a novel, interesting, or unexpected way. Instead you lump Alice in with every other time a woman has talked about her period on stage (which is not as often as it might seem from reading reviews, but might stick out more to men, in part because of confirmation bias). This is an attitude you yourself lament both in the third paragraph here and (kind of dismissively, it must be said) in your review of Laura Daniel's show.

You're right, Nik: it's not the women's fault.

nik smythe May 12th, 2016

I wholeheartedly apologise to Alice and Laura, and anyone else affected.  It's not my only benchmark, just the one that's most important to me in the context of these specific reviews.  I was trying to contribute constructively to the ongoing debate, rather than ignore it, and I regret that I clearly failed.  

Jennifer O'Sullivan May 12th, 2016

None of us are required to talk about anything in our comedy, every single thing we talk about is by choice. You're coming across as saying 'they can't help it, the poor dears' and you need to stop trying to justify it.

When a female comedian is reviewed with the line 'like many female comedians' your consideration should not be *just* the comedian in question, but the many comedians you are lumping together with that casual turn of phrase.

Women are not a genre, or a niche audience. We are individuals with a range of experiences and tastes and styles, and some of those individuals are giving you very solid feedback that you have made a mistake in your review here and have said things that reinforce the marginalisation of us in our industry.

Again, your intent is not the issue here, nor is your 'right to respond' in question (though I would recommend you think more about the responsibility that comes with that right). You can have all the good intentions you like, but if the end result is a piece of writing that contributes to an overall hostility and invalidation of our work and our right to be here, you need to take the feedback on and stop falling back on 'but I didn't mean it that way' as an excuse. It's not one.

Christine Brooks May 12th, 2016

1. You say you don't mean to invalidate this issue but three different women are telling you that it's a problem and you are not accepting that and instead defending what you wrote. Your intentions may be good but it's coming across as sexist. You might want to think about saying something along the lines of "Thanks for the feedback. I'm going to think about how I respond and convey my thoughts on this stuff in the future."

2. As to how Alice and Laura feel, there are some active conversations about this on Facebook and Twitter. Without wishing to speak for Alice, I think it would be fair to say she didn't appreciate your tone in the review.

3. Regardless of 2, I disagree about whether the only test is whether Alice and/or Laura feel marginalised. When you write a sexist review, that impacts on other women who perform, people that watch shows and y'know, society at large.

nik smythe May 12th, 2016

I don't mean to invalidate this issue, as these concerns are valid, and in fact I considered them as I wrote these reviews.  I say 'borders on' inevitable because while they aren't required to talk directly about these issues, they choose to do so as it's prevalent in their own lives and work.  I say 'it's a shame in a way' because the fact it is an issue they feel compelled to point out is an indication that society is still in a place where such stereotypes persist, which as I clarify is not their fault.  I assume the main reason they go there is that to comedians of all genders, bigotry can be a comedy goldmine.

Inasmuch as it's their right to broach these subjects, it's my right to respond, which I thought I'd done sympathetically.  I feel that to avoid acknowledging the issue these talented artists raise themselves during their routines could in turn be construed as sweeping it under the carpet.  I am mostly concerned as to whether Laura or Alice themselves feel marginilised by what I've said in the context of their work?

Penny Ashton May 12th, 2016

Simply review the content is all we ask. The end. No need to couch your observations informed by her gender before you start. Nik we deal with this all the time, I have had people say to me; "Oh it was so good seeing a female comic not do that usual stuff about her tits". For a start I have a lot of stuff about my tits, which I find it interesting I'm not allowed to talk about them when so often I am defined by them, but women generally first have to prove we are not bad, before people will listen further. It is not a level playing field that way and language like; "Like a lot of female comedians" plays right into this. Men can have whole routines about their dicks, and in fact get them out onstage which I have seen many times, but that's not reviewed as gendered more often than not. Theatreview and yourself do a great job at covering many many shows that often don't get reviewed, let's make them inclusive and informed.

Jennifer O'Sullivan May 12th, 2016

Simply acknowledging the content would preclude the judgment inherent in the phrase "like many female comedians, it borders on inevitable". 

As Christine has pointed out, it is exceedingly rare (if not completely absent) for reviews about male comedians to say:

"like many male comedians, it borders on inevitable for Dudebro to take issue with certain gender specific concerns, such as the difficulties in finding a girlfriend as a man (in passing), masturbation (in detail) and the difficulty some people have with yet another straight white man in comedy."

We're not asking about your intent here. We're telling you that the result is sexist, and explaining how you can avoid it in future. Just think 'would I write in this way if it were a male comedian?' Or maybe ask a woman to read it and let you know if anything sets off her spidey sense. 

Christine Brooks May 12th, 2016

And again, as with my response on the other review, I'm telling you that you're coming across as sexist in the way you are writing reviews and that you might want to rethink that as a strategy.

nik smythe May 12th, 2016

Again, as with the Laura Daniel review, I am acknowledging the content of the performer's own material.  I say 'borders on inevitable' because while of course not actually inevitable it's clearly a very present thing for these women, therefore they raise the subject, therefore I respond.

Christine Brooks May 12th, 2016

Hi again Nik,

This is the second review of yours I've commented on about sexist language! Again, I haven't seen Alice's show but the following strikes me as a very strange comment:

"So, like many female comedians, it borders on inevitable for Brine to take issue with certain gender-specific concerns, such as the wage gap (in passing) and menstruation (in detail) and most appropriately, the difficulty some people have with the very existence of women in comedy.  It's a shame in a way, though it's certainly not the women's fault."

I really think it would helpful to stop treating women comics like some special rare species of bird in your reviews. I don't think you're intending to be patronising and a bit sexist but that's really how it is coming across in these two reviews of yours I've read today!

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Indelible images

Review by John Smythe 28th Apr 2016

You’d think she’d been doing this for years, such is her confidence at the mic. But just last year she was still in ‘comedy nappies’ when named Breakout Performer at the Wellies Comedy Awards and nominated as Best Newcomer by the NZ International Comedy Festival. Now Alice Brine is a Billy T Nominee. That has to count as a meteoric rise to ‘comedy puberty’.

On the other hand, given she announces her ADHD is “full blown”, that’s not so surprising. Although she does warn us she may lose concentration and forget why she’s here. So Brinestorm does attest to her capacity to deliver a packed, speedy, wide-ranging yet tight show.  

When the titular image is revealed, covering a square metre or two, it reminds me of the collages Nola Millar used to get her drama students to make of their characters many decades ago. I image Nola, a forgotten fag adding more nicotine to her fingers, frowning at the melange of a million words, drawings and stuck on elements if significance, and declaring there’s enough here for a trilogy of three-hour plays. Yet, from what I can see at a distance, Brine pretty well covers the field in her allotted hour with an extraordinary capacity to keep us with her all the way.

Her pre-diagnosis symptoms give her great material – the nail polish / wallpaper incident is a classic – not to mention her mum, the ADHD boys at school, her current and past flatmates, and work experiences. Except she does mention them, of course, with entertaining relish. The bathmat issue is hysterical.  Likewise the implications of butterflies blu-tacked to a computer monitor.

True to her name, her language is salty. Having had a go at “the cheap c*nts who got in for free” (oops, that includes me) then laughed at herself for not knowing what ‘no complimentary list’ meant when booking for a movie, Brine treats us to the longest ‘haiku’ in history. Why limit yourself to 17 syllables (5-7-5) when you can have 1700-odd?

Being “a massive extrovert” takes her to places she’d normally avoid, which generates more priceless observational comedy, not least concerning the health-nut paradox; we’ve all seen it but it takes Brine to nail it.

There was a time when women-in-comedy were stereotyped as purveyors of ‘period humour’ so most have avoided that clichéd territory but Brine brings it back with a vengeance – ingeniously drawing an analogy with Auckland house prices! The incident involving ‘Fedora Boy’ imprints yet another indelible image on her brain, as does the ‘years later’ sequel involving her veterinarian flatmate.  

If you have developed a bias against stand-up comedy, let Alice Brine and her Brinestorm rehabilitate it for you. If you love stand-up, this will feed your passion.


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