Cancer and Cartwheels

Te Auaha, Tapere Nui, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington

14/05/2024 - 14/05/2024

NZ International Comedy Festival 2024

Production Details

Written and performed by Jo Prendergast

Jo Ghastly - Jo Prendergast Comedy

Psychiatrist comedian Jo Prendergast finds the humour in her tumour!

Laugh through the tough stuff with stand-up, skits, and songs about Jo’s victory over cancer and her cartwheeling ability.

Jo is an award-winning Ōtautahi-Christchurch based stand-up comedian, best for her smash-hit comedy show Jo Ghastly: The Cool Mum.

Jo is also a medical doctor with a unique ability to share important health messages through comedy.

Venue: Tapere Nui at Te Auaha, 65 Dixon Street
Dates: Tue 14 May 2024, 6.45pm
Tickets: $18– $34
Bookings: // 0508 ITICKET (484 253)

Dramaturge- outside eye - Holly Chappel Eason Two Productions
Performance Director Eilish Moran - Court Theatre veteran
Backing tracks - Rose Duxfield
AV Jordan Edgar
Images Emma Smart and Dan Bain

[R18] , Theatre , Comedy , Solo ,

55 minute

Courageous and resoundingly funny

Review by Margaret Austin 15th May 2024

You can make comedy out of many things, but cancer?  

At Te Auaha Tapere Nui, here to see Cancer and Cartwheels, we’ve been given an expectation, and wow! does performer Jo Prendergast deliver on it! Her determined joyousness is a persistent theme throughout and that alone is a reason for watching this show.

A 2021 diagnosis of breast cancer is the unlikely premise for 50 minutes of send-up and fun-poking at this deadly disease. “There’s humour in my tumour,” she announces. The only downside is not being able to do cartwheels due to a disabled arm. She’s a champion at cartwheels – we even get to see her on video performing as a child – and now, she aims to be able to cartwheel again.   

Meanwhile, every ramification of cancer, physical and linguistic, is fair game. Prendergast casts her cancer journey as a fairy tale, an analogy as unlikely as it is hilarious. So is her imagined job interview as a cancer survivor, and an analogy with Covid and managed isolation. Even cancer spread, with its companion horrors of chemotherapy and radiation, gets the treatment (if you’ll excuse the pun). Nipples, bras and wigs don’t escape sometimes dry wit. There’s a bit of practical advice, given by way of – wait for it – a TED talk.

Prendergast’s humour now takes a more ribald form with a new definition of menopause, the upside of vaginal atrophy and – perhaps the show’s highlight – eulogies from the several men who’ve had intimate relations with her. In perhaps any other context, this material might offend, but no way. This aspect speaks volumes for Prendergast’s linguistic skill and upbeat attitude.

The show includes video sequences, subtly handled and humorously appropriate. She doesn’t move much but she really doesn’t have to because her words are enough to keep us happily riveted. Prendergast’s concludes with a friendly reminder about her show’s underlying message and her final video says it all.

The audience is comprised mainly of women, and we will be leaving the theatre uplifted by a courageous soul and a resoundingly funny performance.  


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