Comedy Unplugged

The Classic Studio, Auckland

02/03/2011 - 09/03/2011

Auckland Fringe 2011

Production Details


Fringe Festival audiences are in for a treat when Comedy Unplugged delivers super-fresh material from some of our finest local comedians. The degustation style two-hour showcase in The Classic Studio gives audiences a taste of the new comedy creations.

With the 2011 NZ International Comedy Festival on the boil, Comedy Unplugged offers comedians a chance to test out their show concept and perform new material to a live audience. The feedback from audiences will determine what sinks or swims. Punters will get the rare opportunity to take a peek at their favourite comedians in full unedited glory, tracking what makes the cut in their Festival show in May 2011.

Guest hosts will command the 2-hour showcase of comedians. As hosts they face the challenge of wrangling the untamed gags into a fast paced, riotous night of unplugged comedy.

The Classic Studio, Upstairs from The Classic Comedy Bar, 321 Queen Street
at 8pm on Wednesday 2 & 9 March 2011.
BOOKINGS: (09) 3099241, / 
PRICES: $12 Full Price & $10 Concession/ Group 

2hrs, Weds Only

Become a shaping force

Review by Rachael McKinnon 03rd Mar 2011

Comedy Unplugged is where comedians with shows in 2011’s New Zealand International Comedy Festival submit their new material to a crowd-based litmus test. While family and friends are surely playing audience at home, the laughter – or lack thereof – of a Classic Studio crowd speaks the truth.

During the first of the two Unplugged shows many jokes were vetoed, or pencilled in for more work, by the performers but the vast majority showed that the standard of this year’s festival will be as good as that in previous years. 

MC for the night was the very capable Rhys Mathewson (who is keeping himself busy with another show in the Fringe Festival called NoneTreeHill). The line-up consisted of Reuben Lee, Tevita Manukia, Danny McChrystal and Simon McKinney as the headline act.

Mathewson established an immediate and easy rapport with the room. He told us a bit about himself – he’s now romantically off-the-market and is trying his hand at acting – and learned a bit about the crowd; an IT guy from ‘in the internet’, a bull and cow insurer and a racist heckler were present on the night. New material was well-received by all and, while he still loves a bit of self-mockery, there’s a confident and entertaining young performer on the rise.

Up first was Reuben Lee who started off with a string of snappy one-liners. He explained the unfortunate outcome to his mother’s dream of seeing her son’s name on an office door, talked about dealing with his children’s interest in the Harry Potter series, and dealt out a clever quip at Susan Boyle’s expense. The raw material was good, and once the delivery is smoothed-out a fine show will surely emerge come May.

Second on the bill was Tevita Manukia. His relaxed and affable style was enough to counteract the broken delivery. Each time a joke was lost on the crowd he would pause and cross it off his list, which is perhaps a little premature because with development they’ll probably go down better. He joked about running for parliament, his stance on the drug P and parodied the parody of the now infamous ‘double rainbow’ guy, to good effect. 

If Danny McChrystal, who began the second half, still has until May to put the finishing touches on his show, it’s bound to be a cracker; his set during the unplugged show was seamless and clever from start to finish. Drawing on standard comedy stock such as television adverts, office life and being broke, his material was still unique, surprising and coaxed ready laughter. He even managed to put a new spin on jokes about Christian creationism in the Bible – no mean feat.  

Last up was Simon McKinney with a brand new arsenal of characters that, unsurprisingly, had the crowd in stitches. Often, McKinney is at his best when embodying his family members, and Comedy Unplugged was no exception. A great anecdote about his grandfather’s frustrated attempts at flirting with a pretty fellow-student is bound to become a favourite McKinney gag. And good news, he is now the voice of new channel Four; he lets us in on his child-like joy at this role. The way McKinney turns the mirror on the many idiosyncrasies of characters in our lives (posh inbreeds, girls buying loo paper, family…) is just one of the reasons why he had everyone uproarious at the end of the show.   

Head along to the next Comedy Unplugged and become a shaping force for the mad but funny ramblings of comedians who are committed to bringing their A-game at this year’s comedy festival.

This review kindly supported by The James Wallace Arts Trust

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