12/05/2006 - 12/05/2006
The ODDFELLOWS New Zealand International Comedy Festival kicks off with a Comedy Gala in Auckland.
Theatre , Comedy ,
World class laughs
Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 15th May 2006
If the Oddfellow’s Comedy Gala is anything to go by, this year’s Festival offers worldclass laughs for every conceivable taste. With no less than 24 acts on stage the Gala’s capacity crowd was treated to a superb evening of rich, diverse entertainment.
Musical comedy was a recurring theme, but at the end of the day, good jokes get my vote, and the evening was full of them.
As a Festival veteran, I noted with pride that this year’s Gala also screamed confidence and maturity from every New Zealand comedian. In particular, those returning to the stage having had a few year’s overseas experience, showed our comics are right up their with the world’s best.
Brendhan Lovegrove, fresh from the UK, mastered the traditional audience warm up. Without the strict time constraints of television, this man is slick, and quickly at his twisted best.
For the rest of the evening, we were in the iconic hands of one of the originals -direct from New York, and our host for the night, Dom Irrera. Smooth but with frightening bite, he served the audience with sweet perfection throughout the evening. He will never want for mints again.
New Zealand’s favourite Westie, Ewen Gilmour, respectfully acknowledged fellow councillors in the crowd then showed he’s got a bevy of great new yarns to share with his audience, starting with a nice twist on one of stand up’s staples, Dick jokes.
Australia’s wee gem, Charlie Pickering, was delightful, as he invited us into his quirky imagination, through characterisation, accent and silly carry-on.
The first of the evening’s musical offerings, Dos Gringos, were a tight, well-rehearsed duo. It’s easy to see why these guys have satisfied many corporate audiences.
Jimeoin ambled on and with his warm unobtrusive observations of everyday experiences reduced us to peals of laughter. A fart joke in the hands of one less brilliant would not fire. And thank you, Jim, for speaking at a speed we could all understand. (Many rushed their material, but what’s the point getting all your gags out within the allotted time, if they can’t be heard?)
Tripod, 3 lads from across the ditch, performing hilarious songs in very high voices, are a class act. Starting out in flawless 3 part harmony, then casually adding understated wit, these would-be-geeks-if they-weren’t-so-darn-talented, are a must see if musical comedy is your thing.
Next, Michele A’Court marched on stage looking like a sassy Stevie Nicks, and hit a home run with her "Dear Brent (from Beaconsfield) letter. Although she defies her digits, she just gets better with age.
American Adj Barker explored some unlikely material, from outlet stores to the merits of wearing a vest. His unique perspective and on-stage energy are as refreshing as they are funny.
Enter Dai Henwood, on the evening’s best comic mode of transport. From road works to appropriate drug allocation, Dai’s comedy stylings work for me. David O’Doherty from Ireland’s material is gentle but highly entertaining. He’s another musical act on the ‘must see’ list.
Rhys Darby, Al Pitcher and Benjamin Crellin, all New Zealander’s back from the UK, gave solid, confident performances. Rhys, who remains the king of rubber-comedy, was also particularly strong during his more conventional delivery.
Swoon, melt, gush…. Danny Bhoy walks on stage to a high-pitched rock star reception, and says funny stuff about scrabble and Vanking. Even if he’d recited a recipe for potato pie in Yiddish, I’m sure his adoring fans would’ve gone mad. He is quite simply marvellous, and deserves to sell out. Again.
When top Brit comic Stephen K Amos comes on, it’s like listening to a comfortable conversation… he simply picks up from where he left off last time he was here… When the calibre of comedy is this good, and the delivery so fine-tuned, it appears to be effortless. What a treat this man is.
The Jeremy’s of the night were both great – Corbett shared jovial ramblings about a man and his dog, while Elwood’s routine was as insightful as ever.
Wilson Dixon, in the form of Jesse Griffin (Kiwi lad and a very, very clever man), made me l.o.l…. Heartily. His song "Philosophy" is deliciously performed, and full of eclectic observations.
Rhod Gilbert of Wales was all upset about the weather, in an endearing worried-Nana kind of way. His original delivery was most enjoyable.
Sister Sally-Anne Upton didn’t fire on the night, but I’m sure when the congregation is more her niche audience, the whole act will start to flow.
Janey Godley from Glasgow had a great time on stage and her Old-Mother-Hobbit infused storytelling is very appealing to the ear. She’s worth her weight in whiskey.
UK’s Andy Parsons growled through his hilarious material and his statement – "Who needs comedy when the news is that good", referring to dear Don Brash’s latest whoopsy, brought the house down.
Papa Dom saved the most exposing for last – Canada’s Phil Nichol bared his best, taking us on a speedy tour of his favourite culture characters, which was far too enjoyable to watch. His is less of a routine and more of an assault. Jaw-dropping pant comedy. You have been warned.
So there you have it folks – don’t be frugal with your entertainment budget during Festival – It’s all good. Slap it all on the plastic, you won’t regret it.
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