18/01/2018 - 27/01/2018
Another Kiwi act who made it big! Card Ninja has been seen at the London Wonderground Festival, Southbank Festival, London’s Bloomsbury Theatre and as part of Pepsi Max’s ‘Unbelievable’ series – racking up over a million views online. He even won a World Buskers Festival Iron Chicken a few years back.
Warning: this show contains ninjas, not magic.
Back by popular demand, Card Ninja is an award-winning, riotous display of comedy and card stunts using playing cards as ninja weapons. Following his journey from mild mannered card player to silent assassin, Card Ninja is a one-man variety comedy show with upbeat humour for anyone who’s ever been a little bit ninja. Expect deadly and risky fun.
“…this is one slick performance of stand up and cards not to be missed.” Theatreview NZ
Theatre , Solo ,
Review by Tony Ryan 21st Jan 2018
I don’t remember why I chose Card Ninja as part of my World Buskers Festival review schedule, but I could not be more glad I did. Javier Jarquin (who also has another stand-up act in the festival) has the capacity audience of 7-to-70 year-olds laughing and responding with uproarious abandon for the show’s entire hour-long duration.
As my wife and I head for this, our fifth show of the festival so far, we wonder if anything will stand out as a real highlight. Admittedly it’s only day 3 of 10, but Card Ninja is certainly going to take some beating. After the show, we also realise that all the performers we’ve seen so far have originally come from Christchurch!
Now, there’s no doubt that no-one in the audience knows less about ninjas than I do, and you’d probably have to pay my wife a considerable sum to get her to a ninja movie of any sort, but oh how we enter so willingly into the spirit of this brilliant act!
Jarquin’s combination of seemingly spontaneous delivery, comic imagination and astonishing skill is an absolute tour-de-force of theatrical virtuosity. It’s not a kids’ show; it’s just ideal for any age, but having so many kids in the audience certainly helps the charismatic energy of this act (which statement will certainly surprise anyone who knows me!) – and there we are, calling out “Ninjaaaaa”, along with everyone else, at every pseudo martial arts achievement on stage. A few references that are mildly suggestive of more ‘adult’ jokes are followed with an “ask your parents” aside to the kids – in itself a humorous idea.
What this guy can do with cards quite defies belief. Even when, at the start, a single card falls ‘accidentally’ to the floor and he doesn’t bother to pick it up, the chance to draw attention to any OCD tendencies we may have is a comic moment symptomatic of the way that no opportunity is missed in a fast-paced act, saturated with entertaining detail.
By the end of the hour, the whole stage (and theatre) is littered with hundreds of cards (I wonder if anyone will ever discover the one that sailed into a narrow cranny above a heating unit?).
The show is based on a series of ‘Ninja Tests’ where Jarquin’s chosen weapons (playing cards) are used to demonstrate prowess in a variety of ‘disciplines’, often using adult audience members to act as his opponents. Special congratulations to a dad called Chris, who proves an ideal ring-in and who possibly foils some planned comic material by catching a fast-flying card at his first attempt – “No-one’s ever done that before!”. Tonight, Card Ninja seems especially lucky in his choice of ‘volunteers’, each providing him with opportunities for superbly improvised comedy; goodness, how we laugh!
As the show builds to its final climax, cards start to fly in all directions with increasing speed and spectacle like the finale to a fireworks display, and our laughter is as much for his unbelievable ninja skill with cards as for the comedy.
Throughout his act, Javier Jarquin keeps reminding us that “this is not a magic show”. That’s as maybe, but Card Ninja is certainly a magical show!
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